A Lieberman Loss Will Change Behavior
After seeing the possibility that Joe Lieberman will lose the Democratic primary next Tuesday largely over his support for the Iraq war, it seems that both the media and national Democrats suddenly are taking notice that the anti-war portion of the party isn’t a fringe group but actually a large part of the party and the country. New Jersey Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg said in the last half hour that if Lieberman loses next week, he doesn’t think that Lieberman will go ahead with an independent run. If he does, Lautenberg has changed his mind and won’t support such a run.
Hillary Clinton, seeing how decisive the anti-war position may be in the Lieberman race, took a hard line against Rummy yesterday in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and after seeing his detached from reality performance, called on Rumsfeld to resign, something she has heretofore not done.
MSNBC’s Tom Curry is labeling Lieberman as a potential casualty of the Iraq war, as if Lieberman’s support for the war was the only reason for Democrats to oppose him. Curry fails to mention in his piece that Lieberman’s support of Bush is the other reason.
There have been many Beltway Democrats and pundits who have opined that a Lieberman loss would be crippling for the Democratic Party because it would somehow unleash an extremist, toxic cloud over the party at a time when it is on the verge of regaining power this November. Rubbish. Those are the ramblings and whinings of access-hungry, cowering members of the media who were only too willing to allow this cabal to lead us into this illegal war, or the pitiful wails of Democrats too afraid to go against the Rove smear machine and who would rather back their way into a victory this November as GOP-lite.
Besides, how is it possible for a Lamont victory and an emergence of the anti-Iraq war message to be disastrous for the Democrats when Chuck Hagel says we need to begin withdrawing troops not in 12 months, but in six?
More likely, a Lieberman loss will force the media to acknowledge that the war is not just an issue for the crazies, but for a large part of the country as well. More than half of the country now wants our troops out of Iraq in 12 months. More than half of the country thinks that Bush has no clear Iraq policy, definition of victory, or idea of how to get out. And the polls have shown for months that a majority is now against the war, thinks the war has done little to make us safer, and is not worth the losses we have suffered. But now that a member of the Beltway elite like Lieberman, who is more popular with the GOP than he is with his own party, may be bounced from office over the war, the media or punditocracy suddenly no longer ascribes his opposition to crazy leftists but rather to a more broadbased and growing opposition to this war.
Similarly, if Lieberman loses next Tuesday, watch the Beltway Democrats change their tune as well. There will be more challenges of Bush over foreign policy and Iraq, and the messaging will be a little bolder. Democrats may actually crawl out from under their rocks and regain their spines, all at Joe's expense. And if that happens, then we can thank Joe for something after all.