Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Two Liebermans

Joe Lieberman drags out the ghost of John Bailey in an interview with David Broder to talk about the evils of primaries:
"John Bailey genuinely believed that primaries were not only divisive but often didn't pass the ultimate test of finding the candidate who could win," he said. If Bailey were alive, his attitude would be, "We have an incumbent senator who is quite popular in the state; we have an opportunity to elect three Democratic congressional challengers; we have a very tough race for governor. Why would we want to challenge an incumbent senator who could lead the other candidates to victory?" (Broder)

Bailey was a smart, strong chairman whose specialty was getting Democrats elected, and keeping them in power once they got there. He and other party bosses weren't especially good for democracy. The current system, which allows much easier access to primaries than was ever the case in Connecticut, devolves power away from the parties and puts it in the hands of the voters. Which is where it belongs.

Lieberman also made this troubling statement:
"I know I'm taking a position that is not popular within the party," Lieberman said, "but that is a challenge for the party -- whether it will accept diversity of opinion or is on a kind of crusade or jihad of its own to have everybody toe the line. No successful political party has ever done that." (Broder)

Well, first off, the Republicans have done that. The nearly-successful primary challenge to Arlen Specter is a good example of that trend within the GOP--and they're a moderately successful bunch.

Secondly--jihad? You're kidding. Please tell us you didn't mean that. Please?

The interview is a good example of the Two Liebermans. There's Noble Joe, who is principled and unafraid to put party aside and take a stand for what he believes in. This is admirable and all-too-rare in a politician. I like Noble Joe, even though I sometimes disagree with him. Then there's Baron Joe, who believes he deserves his seat for life, that his opponent has no right to challenge him, and that he is entitled to go to any and all lengths to retain his spot in the peerage. Baron Joe is the one who released that dumb bear ad yesterday. He's the one spouting nonsense about jihad, invoking kingmaker John Bailey's ghost and issuing vicious statements, press releases and advertisements. He's paranoid, angry and unafraid to put party, people and common decency aside in order to win. I don't like Baron Joe. He has no place in a democracy.

This split personality seems to happen to good men who spend too much time in Washington. It's sad. I have to think that if John Bailey were alive today, he'd be quietly taking Lieberman aside and saying:

"Joe. Too much. Back off. You're losing us. You're better than this. Right?"

But Lieberman has no one to do that for him. I wonder if he's even listening anymore.

Source

Broder, David. "Antiwar Crucible in Connecticut." Washington Post 17 June, 2006.

30 comments:

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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BRubenstein said...

Joe does more shining and crying in the article....no wonder he bombed as a presidential candidate....and when he says in the article " i want to put my record before all the people of connecticut..." look for him to bolt..leaving all the Dems whose arms he and his minions twisted...twisting in the wind...

The issue is not whether the party will respect diversity..the issue is..having been presented with good evidence of fake and misleading evidence will you admit it and do what you can to end this war now..or just give Bush another kiss and a vote for Bush's war anytime Bush wishes....

Joe is transparent....been in DC too long..tries to have it both ways...and is the willing tool of bad interests.

He should just leave and go be a "I"

BRubenstein said...

i meant whining not shining

GMR said...

The Lieberman-Lamont spectacle is great for the Republicans.

You can compare it to Toomey-Specter, but there are differences. There was no serious talk of Specter running as an Independent. More importantly, however, was that conservatives were not upset with just one main issue: when Toomey was running against Specter, Specter voted more conservative than he usually does. Lieberman is more consistently liberal, and he's a bit more steadfast in his positions than Specter.

If Lieberman drops out of the primary and goes to the general, or if he loses the primary and runs in the general, that's great for Republicans. National leaders will likely support Lieberman, and in doing so, they'll say something to the effect of "We don't trust our own primary voters".

If Lieberman wins the primary against Lamont, then Lamont supporters may very well stay at home on election day. Lieberman will still win against Schlesinger by a mile, but donwticket, the Democrats could be hurt. Especially if the governor's race is a foregone conclusion. In Larson's and deLauro's congressional districts, liberal Democrats might have little reason to vote if the gov, senate and house seats are all decided, and their liberal senate candidate isn't there. This could flip a few state house and state senate seats.

If Lieberman loses the primary, and doesn't run in the general (mainly because he doesn't have the signatures), then Lamont would almost certainly win a two-way race with Schlesinger. But it'd be horrible for the national Democrats. What do they do about Hillary? She has never really renounced the war. Will Lieberman speak out against the "extremism" in the Democrat party?

All the while, no matter what happens, this race will take significant funding from other Democrats, and more significantly, will take up media time and coverage.

cgg said...

I'm still stunned by the jihad comment. What the hell was he thinking?

ctkeith said...

Joe Lieberman is a peice of sewage!

For him to use the words Jihad and Crusade to describe a simple Primary to rid this State of a second rate hack Created by William F Buckley shows how big his overinflated opinion of himself and Ego really are.

Heres a Question Joe.

When your ass is kicked by 20 points on August 8th will you use the Word Holocaust to again boost your own importance?

Integrity my ass,Joe Liberman is
a total Putz and deserves to be thrown down the Spiderhole of Deniability his legacy is about to enter!!

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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MikeCT said...

The Lieberman ad has been redone.

cgg said...

Angelina I would very much like to see an example of Kerry's being in tune with Al Qaeda. A statement like that deserves something to back it up.

And as a liberal, one BTW who watched as Al Qaeda blew up part of the city I called home and murdered many good people I knew, I take serious offense to your assertation that those of us on the left would like to see the USA be blown up. When you've actually witnessed terrorism firsthand you not to speak flippantly about these things.

MikeCT said...

Tom Swan and Sean Smith will be on Fox 61's Beyond the Headlines on Sunday.

Chris MC said...

GC, I don't agree entirely with your post, but your opening sentence is well put. Bailey was a man for his season, one of the greats. And he has been dead for over twenty years. As I've said elsewhere, the fact of the matter is that the party is divided. The ways and means of John Bailey passed with him and his era.

In this day and age, political candidates are their own franchise. Joe is such a franchise. There is no bigger franchise in Democratic politics than a Presidential nominee or President, and as Gore's VP candidate (and the winner of the popular vote in 2000), Lieberman is in the top tier of Democratic players.

Coming from a guy like that, the Bailey reference is indeed weak. Instead, Joe should welcome the debate with Lamont. Joe should take this opportunity to articulate his vision for the Democratic Party and for the policy choices he espouses, and make the upstart Lamont account for his own positions and philosophy.

To paraphrase one of our founding fathers, I might violently disagree with your views, but I'll defend forcefully your right to speak freely. If you agree with that principle, you should share my enthusiasm for this debate.

But there is a hitch. It really is all about the war. From Lamont's own account, without the war, he wouldn't be a candidate. It's right there in the Broder piece.

[Liebeman said] "I think we did the right thing in overthrowing Saddam, and I think we are safer as a result," he continued. "Second, while I have been very critical of the Bush foreign policy before the war and the Rumsfeld-Bush policies in Iraq after Saddam was overthrown, I also made a judgment I would not invoke partisan politics on this war."

That was the point of a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece Lieberman wrote last November endorsing the president's announced strategy to defeat the insurgency and establish a democratic government in Iraq. That article infuriated Lamont and launched his candidacy. "It was decisive," Lamont told me in an interview. "Lieberman suggested that the critics were undermining the credibility of the president. I thought he was wrong."

"My opponent says it broke Democratic unity," Lieberman said. "Well, dammit, I wasn't thinking about Democratic unity. It was a moment to put the national interest above partisan interest."


Yet when I look again at that excerpt, I see something less circumstantial, something profound, crystalized in this one issue, but part of nearly everything in American politics.

The American people and their representatives allowed this Administration to actively mislead us into this situation. The era of machine politics ended over twenty years ago. The era of franchise politics appears to be coming to it's end. If nothing else, at least a few more people have begun to pay attention and act like the sovereigns of the greatest global hegemon in the history of mankind that they are. I am strongly of the view that we need to do this, that the time has come and it is up to us to make it real.

So let's have Joe Lieberman articulate and argue for his principled position. And let Ned Lamont articulate and argue for his principled position.

And then we'll elect a Senator for a new era, whichever of these individuals wins.

FrankS said...

Didn't Bailey support a Lieberman primary against the then incumbant State Senator Ed Marcus?

BRubenstein said...

I knew John Bailey personaly...he ate at the concord lunchenette on farmington avemue or sometimes scolers on farmington avenue...when he ate at the concord i would sit whith him and learn some great, great stories from him...at the time i was in law school and on the democratic town committee....he didnt mind a primary when he thought his candidate had the leverage to win it...and yes..he supported Lieberman over Marcus in that primary...

Chris Mc...bailey didnt die " over 20 years ago....try 30 years ago dude.

Chris MC said...

31 years, 2 months, and 7 days "dude".

Sometimes you might read a bit less literally if you want to get my point.
;-)

BRubenstein said...

chris...i knew him so i didnt need to check anything...and as usual i was pretty on the money...i knew it was around 30 years ago

BRubenstein said...

chris...this is one time when i agree with you...we are in a new era of politics...

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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MikeCT said...

Litchfield,
As usual, your Rove-ian logic is impeccable. Obviously, anyone who doesn't want to go "into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the – of – the historical customs, religious customs" is a terrorist.

As is "Jihad Ned." When can we round them up for the prison camps for enemy combatants? That's what I want to know.

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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cgg said...

Wow Angelina. That's really over the top. Applying your logic anyone who is against slaughter is in tune with Al Qaeda. With that line of thinking you could even claim that Jesus is in tune with Bin Laden.

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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middlesexist said...

I, unlike most people on this thread, have actually read Joe Lieberman's biography of John Bailey, "The Power Broker" (not to be confused with Robert Caro's biography of Robert Moses, with the same name, which is basically the published version of Lieberman's senior thesis at Yale.

Bailey only opposed primaries when he was the boss of the Connecticut party. When he was younger, he was notoriously disloyal, opposing his own mentor, Hartford mayor Tom Spellacy in primaries, and attacking fellow Democrats, as it suited him, variously from the left and from the right. Ironically, the young Joe Lieberman seems to take the view in his book that insurgencies by young Dems against older, more conservative out-of-touch Democratic establishments have the effect of strengthening the Party. I guess things change.

I do actually agree with Lieberman that primaries are generally bad for the party, but citing Bailey on that is ridiculous. Lieberman should reread his own book; if he did, he might find himself supporting Mr. Lamont.

cgg said...

You're right Angelina. That's ewxactly what I said. I love to slander our troops. It's my hobby and my passion.

Your reading comprehension skills astound and amaze me!

bluecoat said...

cgg: LA may have piloted a swift boat in 'nam too....

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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BRubenstein said...

angelina...if you think liberals are all taking orders from Bib Laden then come all the way out and advocate death camps for us..since 70% oppose th war..thats alot of deaths to do...are you up for it?

LitchfieldAngelina said...
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Chris MC said...

middlesexist - I don't know if that "most people" was intended to include me, but FWIW I have read and own a copy of both Lieberman's The Power Broker and The Legacy. And a first edition of Caro's book, one of my all-time favorites.

Genghis Conn said...

I'll add that I actually have read The Legacy, which is an expanded version of The Power Broker, from my town library. I've been trying to find a copy that sells for less than $20, but so far have been unsuccessful. It's a good reference for that period in state history.

BRubenstein said...

gc..i became active in the early 70's and actually lived and was part of alot of the events of those books ..though a small part in the early days..In 1982 i co-ran Eric Coleman's successful race for state rep. and went on from there..both books are well written and a wonderful glance of politcs in earlier times.