Time To Go Home, Joe
Most incumbent senators do not face a serious challenge from within their own party when seeking re-election.
Unfortunately for the DLC-Party, too many of their veterans don't understand the situation any better:
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye [D-HI] said he will stand with U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman even if Lieberman loses in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut and runs in the general election as an independent. But Inouye's explanation for sticking with Lieberman goes beyond friendship or courtesy. "I am very concerned about a trend in my party," Inouye said in a statement. "It mirrors what has happened with the Republican Party, where one issue —such as abortion — is paramount in defining 'a good party member.'
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is mentioned in this NYTimes article as among the few Democratic colleagues of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman who are going to support the Connecticut senator regardless of whether he wins next week's Democratic primary.
One is Inouye, and another is Colorado's Ken Salazar. Another article names Bill Clinton, Barbara Boxer, and Joseph Biden.
Over at The American Prospect, Harold Meyerson says:
Lieberman ... will also likely be the rejected incumbent of an overwhelming majority of his state's Democrats.
is to tell the party rank-and-file that its votes don't matter
when they dethrone the longtime friends or associates of Democratic higher-ups.
Rightist columnist Debra Saunders has declared Joe Lieberman to be the Democrats' Version of John McCain, and Tom DeLay, Ann Coulter, and William Krystal offered public support for Lieberman in various ways.
Stuart Rothenberg thinks that a Lamont primary victory would create "an entirely new dynamic" in the Democratic Party, which may be why Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said he would switch his allegiance to antiwar candidate Ned Lamont if Lamont prevails in the primary.
The old ways of being GOP-Lite and kissing the royal (pain-in-the-) ass every time it's offered isn't going to work with the voters anymore.
Over in America's Dairyland, they see the same thing as Stuart Rothenberg:
The Connecticut race may be seen as an intensification of the partisan, polarized politics of the Bush era. Lieberman is paying a price for being an advocate of bipartisanship. Lieberman enjoys the support of the party’s national leadership, along with most of organized labor and key constituency groups. If Lamont wins the primary, they will be forced to shift allegiance.
A victory by businessman Ned Lamont on Tuesday would confirm the growing strength of the grass-roots and Internet activists who emerged in Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. For at least the next year, any Democrat hoping to play on the 2008 stage would need to reckon with the implications of Lieberman’s repudiation.
The full ramifications of a Lieberman defeat are far from certain. One may be to signal immediate problems for Bush and the Republicans in November, but another could be to push Democrats into a more partisan, anti-war posture, a prospect that is already adding powerful new fuel to a four-year-long intraparty debate over Iraq.
An upset by Lamont would affect the political calculations of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who like Lieberman supported giving Bush authority to wage the Iraq war, and could excite interest in a comeback by former vice president Al Gore, who warned in 2002 that the war could be a grave strategic error. Both Clintons have said they will support the winner of the primary and other party officials plan to do the same.
Needless to say, such a prospect as a Liebarman loss causing Hillary to show her opportunistic stripes fills the wrong-wing with glee:
What makes the Democrat Senate primary in Connecticut so interesting is not that the Left is pulling out all the stops to defeat one of its own, but that a Democrat senator in an adjoining deep-blue state has also supported the President's policy in Iraq, albeit purely as a political calculation to appear as a moderate. And this senator, Hillary Clinton, is the current front-runner for the Demo presidential nomination in '08. Where Joe's campaign goes, might Hillary's campaign follow? The implications for Hillary Clinton in '08 ... are ominous.
And they should be! Whether or not you support Hillary, changing so many of her positions in the short period between elections isn't going to engender confidence in her reliability. It opens her up to the sorts of challenges that will cause support for her to weaken.
Such weakened support for Independent Joe is what the Connecticut GOP candidate for Senator is hoping for.
Despite the intent of [Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan] Schlesinger's news conference, he was still dogged by questions about his use of a fake name on a Foxwoods Resort Casino customer rewards "wampum" card in 1992 and earlier lawsuits from Atlantic City, N.J., casinos to collect $28,000 in gambling losses, which Schlesinger paid. The revelations caused Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell several weeks ago to suggest Schlesinger reconsider his candidacy.
Schlesinger said he's taken aim at Lieberman, rather than the more liberal Lamont, because he shares a block of voters with the incumbent.
Said voters are not happy with Joe to the point that they could consider abandoning him as their champion:
Mark Aronchick, a former chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and longtime Democratic fund-raiser, said the choice, for him, would be 'a torment'. "My first response would be that I'm going to fall in line with the party and support the Democrat," Aronchick said yesterday. "It would be a difficult decision for me, but the bigger issue would be about the Democratic Party holding together."
That opinion was shared by another Joe supporter:
Josh Weston, former board chairman of Automatic Data Processing Inc., a contributor to civic causes in New Jersey, said he was "more interested in seeing the seat go to a Democrat" and would not back Lieberman as an independent. "That's not a good decision because it's going to split the Democratic vote and might help the Republican win," Weston said.
Admittedly, such opinions don't help Schlessinger, but they do weaken the current formation of the Democratic Party:
Arthur Makadon, chairman of the Ballard Spahr, a law firm in Philadelphia, said he 'wouldn't be torn in the least' if Lieberman became an independent. "I think his opponent in the Democratic Party is so unworthy I could never support him," Makadon said.
Personally, I find that such affirmation of the man AS the Party to be a sign of poor judgement in the supporter. I could live much easier with his decision to support Joe for his positions rather than declare that the party candidate is 'unworthy' just because his man lost.
But even this I could support if it was happening to both parties, as such affiliations are bad for the welfare of the nation. My continued lukewarm support for the Democratic side is only because not to do so would prove to be the worse choice.
I have been an avowed advocate of enhancing the prospects of the lesser parties in the American spectrum, but what is one to say when the parties themselves aren't interested in a losing has-been? As one Libertarian puts it:
[I]n my opinion, there is nothing libertarian about Lieberman. His economic policies are socialist. His foreign policy is interventionist. And his social policies are the kind of social engineers advocated by social conservatives. It's sad and pathetic to see Libertarians trying to recruit non-libertarians who don't even want Libertarian support.
However, Quinnipiac's poll shows Lieberman well ahead in a three-way race. The problem for Joe is, the election isn't going to be for several months yet, and people will hear a lot about him compared with the other two candidates and that support will weaken.
[T]he only way the Republicans would even have a shot in Connecticut, a deeply anti-Bush state, is if Lieberman wages a three-way race.
So the real question here is for Lieberman himself, who protests that he will remain a Democrat come what may, and a loyal member of the Senate caucus if he's re-elected as an independent in November. If Lieberman runs as the overwhelming rejectee of his party, he can count on his support from all wings of that party to dwindle to a hard core -- and not a very large core at that -- of Liebermaniacs.
Lieberman should understand that he also threatens his own political legacy by opting to run as an independent. His protestations that he still identifies with the Democrats and cares for their cause will be mocked by every word he utters and move he makes as an independent candidate.
Joe Lieberman can go out with class. Or he can go down as the guy whose last act in electoral politics was a spoiler. The choice is entirely his.
If there were any true justice, or if karma really had an effect on a person, the fact that Election 2000 spoiler Ralph Nader has welcomed Joe into Life in the Third-Party Lane should end his pathetic attempts to remain aboard the luxurious lobbyist gravy train.
He should retire to his ill-gotten spoils and enjoy the memories of his career - and leave the running of the country to those living in the present.
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