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