The Risks for the Blogosphere of Taking on Lieberman

Believe it or not, I'm not sold on a primary challenge to Lieberman.  As I have written before, Connecticut is a machine state; facing down a machine is not easy.

We face real risks should we pick this fight.  The progressive blogosphere is right now facing a crisis of legitimacy.  Though blogs funneled massive amounts of money to Kerry in 2004, to the DNC when Dean was elected, and to individual candidates, we are seen as disorganized, immature and incoherent.  We tend not to break through to the established media. Big donors do not fund us, unlike all the other groups in the party.  We truly are on our own.  Our latent allies - Dean, Reid, Slaughter - cannot work through us because we don't bring enough to the table.  Contrast this to Redstate, which has around 20,000 readers, around 2% of the traffic of Daily Kos, yet has played some role in the current House leadership election contest.  They know politics, they take politics seriously, and they are taken seriously as a result.  They also have advantages we do not - the founders of Redstate were already members of the Republican political elite.

But still, what have we accomplished?  Individual actors - Josh Marshall, John Aravosis, Steve Clemons - are taken seriously, but they were established before blogs emerged.  How have we made the country better?  It's not an easy question to answer, but it's the same question we put to the party establishment every day.  If we have no answer, then we don't deserve to be taken seriously, because we really are whining.

Here are the risks as I see them should we decide to go full bore against Lieberman.  Lieberman, despite relatively low approval ratings among Democrats, is still popular.  And he has strong links with civil rights groups and environmental groups.  

  • The Connecticut party will line up against us.
  • Howard Dean may line up against us.
  • Harry Reid may line up against us.
  • Environmental advocacy groups may line up against us.
  • Labor may line up against us.
  • Dodd may line up against us.

That's a lot of firepower.  It's a lot of fractiousness that will be engendered by this fight.  Now, there are ways of putting pressure on each of these groups - Howard Dean will be in a tough spot should he get behind Lieberman, and we can pressure different advocacy groups.  And to some extent, it'll be nice to see who's cards are on the table.  Who's really with us?  But the reality is that there are a lot of factors, a lot of money, and a lot of direct mail pieces lined up against us.

So should we pick this fight, and should Lamont get crushed, we will once again be thrown into the 'loser' bucket and be dismissed as weirdos on the internet.  But that's not the real reason I'm concerned.  My concern is about what we stand for as a group, and how we define ourselves.  One of the things Crashing the Gates laid out is how we're a different group of lefties.  We aren't 1960s and 1970s liberals who act in a reactionary fashion against those who don't share our point of view.

Yet, in picking this fight against Lieberman, we're not really running 'on' something.  I see no thread of articulated principles here that would justify a Lieberman challenge.  The Sierra Club at least looks at your environmental record.  What do we look at?  The number of times someone has reiterated right-wing frames?  What are we looking for in a candidate, that Lieberman isn't?  I'm looking for principles here, things to wrap ourselves in.  

If we are making demands, which supporting a primary challenger is doing, what are they?  If we simply make the demand that a candidate not be Lieberman, then what kind of legitimacy does that confer on us as a group?  How can other politicians follow that lead?  They can't.  And if we are demanding leadership from our party, and from our political system as a whole, we have to show some ourselves.

I'm going to ask people who don't support a primary challenge to refrain from commenting on this thread.  I'm trying to get to some level of understanding here.  Why would you oppose Lieberman?  What are the principles that define your opposition?

UPDATE: I'm really liking the comments so far. Three points in particular are principles that define what he does that we do not like:

- His support for policies that are ruining America's military and standing in the world
- His support for borrow and spend policies that are bringing the American economy to a grinding halt
- His failure to hold the executive branch accountable

Tags: Blogosphere (all tags)



For starters...
  1. As mentioned, Joe Lieberman reinforces right wing frames.
  2. Joe Lieberman appears regularly on television and is set up specifically to criticize other Democrats. He allows himself to be used as cover for the Bush administration, specifically on the Iraq war.
  3. Connecticut is not Nebraska. We don't support a primary challenge to Ben Nelson because we recognize the political realities of his state. Connecticut is solid blue.
  4. This is not about Party Purity or ideology. This is about partisanship and throwing someone over when they repeatedly refuse to stand with us.
by MrExcitement 2006-01-19 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: For starters...
Those are not principles.  Why will getting rid of Lieberman make the country better?  That's the case we have to make.
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-19 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: For starters...
I understand what you're driving toward, but isn't the first case that we have to make to Democratic primary voters in Connecticut?

Or is what you're saying that in addition to adding our voices to the primary challenge, we have to make a larger case in the media about the specific principles of the blogosphere and how they relate to this fight.

If so, partisanship is a principle. To be a Democrat, you have to stand with Democrats in spirit (if not on every issue). Joe supports a variety of our issues, but he disses the party every chance he gets. Partisan zeal is one of the things the blogosphere has come to stand for.

by MrExcitement 2006-01-19 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: For starters...
I don't think that's the case that has to be made at all. That's a general election argument. Primaries are about choosing someone to represent our party.

It seems perfectly legitimate to say that Bob Democrat will be just as progressive as Joe (or more so), just as pious (or more so), just as any other good thing Joe wants to claim he is, AND he won't go on talk shows and slag the leaders and positions of the Democratic Party. He won't be the Semi-Honorable Senator from the State of Lieberman. He'll be D-CT. That's the bottom line.

I'd even say that that alone does make him better for the country, because what this country desperately needs is an aggressive Democratic Senate and a coherent Democratic Party. The Republican Party is taking this country to hell. Joe Lieberman is helping them to do it.

by tatere 2006-01-20 12:50AM | 0 recs
What I think we are demanding...
We demand that our representatives have some self respect, for God's sake, by putting their party ahead of their concern for their own reputations

The challenge to Joe Lieberman is a reaction against the Republican demonization of the word "liberal" and of anyone who disagrees with them as being traitors.  

Joe Lieberman is not proud of being a Democrat. Joe Lieberman cares more about his own reputation than about the principles of the party he signed up for.

We want representatives that are proud of the people they represent.  Joe is not, he must go.

by One Hand Clapping 2006-01-19 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
Those are not principles.  Why will getting rid of Lieberman make the country better?  That's the case we have to make.
by Matt Stoller 2006-01-19 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
The principle is protection of the healthy two party system.  This requires that both parties be strong and independent of each other.  Having Joe Lieberman claiming to represent a party he is not proud of is a Republican foothold in the Democratic Party, and inhibits its ability to compete, which weakens our democracy.

How is that for principle?

by One Hand Clapping 2006-01-19 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
That is not principle, it is anger.  You don't know what Lieberman is or is not proud of.

Principle might be saying something along the lines of 'Lieberman takes the side of the economic giant with his support of not expensing stock options.  We believe that economic power is simply too concentrated.'  Or 'Lieberman supports an imperial role for US military power.  As an American, I believe that he betrays what America stands for, and I want to see candidates who work to restore America's moral leadership in the world.'

The political case, that he undercuts the party, is compelling, but it's not why we oppose him.  It is the symptom of some of the larger ideological disagreements.

by Matt Stoller 2006-01-19 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
Matt, your question is a straw man, poly sci class question.

It's not organically political.

Getting rid of Joe for a Dem who better suits and represents the brand we are building will be good for the party and good for the country, but that's not why Joe has to be challenged.

He has to be challenged because he is out of step with the direction of the party and the direction of the activist base of the party in Connecticut.

Your question is a straw man question.  It's a TNR "blog" question.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-19 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
"The political case, that he undercuts the party, is compelling, but it's not why we oppose him.  It is the symptom of some of the larger ideological disagreements."

Opposition to disloyalty is not a 'principle'?

The man represents a wing of the party that has allowed corporate donations to dilute the party's loyalty to its rank-and-file.  That alone is reason to oppose him.  

by RickD 2006-01-19 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
The principle behind ousting Lieberman is the simple principle of representative democracy.  Every 6 years, every seat in the Senate is up for reelection.  Senator Lieberman has to earn his reelection, and he has not done so.  Getting rid of Lieberman will make the country better because it will reaffirm the democratic process.

A legitimate threat to Lieberman should be enough to remind Democrats that they can't just take us, and their party, for granted.  

It that isn't enough for you, then go with the principle that Gore spoke of on Monday.  The job of the legislative branch is to hold the executive branch accountable for its actions.  It is sad that legislators in the President's party have failed to do so.  It is unacceptable for a Democratic Senator from Connecticut to similarly fail.

by ZamboniGuy 2006-01-19 06:01AM | 0 recs
Re: What I think we are demanding...
Defeating Joe Lieberman will change the tone and content of the national discourse.  It will tell Democratic Senators and Congressmen that criticizing their own party and its leaders is NOT a road to advancement.  It will make it harder for Fox to even appear balanced and will help us either to make our case or to at least show Fox for what it is.

Remember, Joe was put on the ticket because he criticized Clinton loudly and publicly.  He then provided most of Bush's margin in Florida (351 of 537 votes) by caving in illegal military ballots.  

Count all the votes.  We are against Joe.

Freedom of speech issues.  We are against Joe.

The Iraq War.  We are against Joe.

Protecting investors and not the corporations.  We are against Joe.

REALLY protrecting the little guy in bankruptcy legislation. We are against Joe.

Providing leadership not following Bush.  We are against Joe.

by David Kowalski 2006-01-19 10:22AM | 0 recs
Joe Lieberman supports the use of military force to further a misguided notion of American empire, with the consequence our military and our support in the world community is collapsing. He supports Republican borrow and spend economics with the result that our economy faces collapse. He should be removed from office because he is bad for America and bad for the Democratic party's vision of America.
by cmpnwtr 2006-01-19 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: principles
I'll go you one step further. Even aside from his wrongheaded and decidedly non-progressive views on military policy and economics, Lieberman is an avatar of the interest group-responsive politics that helped doom Democrats to defeat through the last 30 years.

Consider the two issues on which Lieberman can credibly claim to be "liberal": choice and the environment. In both cases, advocacy groups can get on his meeting schedule and pretty much count on him to say the right things and vote the right way. My strong guess is that he'll oppose Alito, for instance, because of the perceived threat to Roe. And every time the Alaska drilling debate resurfaces, he's leading the charge to keep the tundra pristine. Though I haven't investigated this, my guess is that he's been the recipient of big-time largesse from these groups through his Senate career.

But where there isn't a sizable and deep-pocketed constituency pushing him to do the progressive thing, he almost never does it anyway. That's true of foreign-policy and defense decisions (on which I personally am not all that inclined to fault him, though I think he sounds like an ass)--and especially of business regulation and economic policy.

Let's never forget that in the summer of 2002, when Enron, and others were in the dock of public opinion and Democrats were fighting to keep control of the Senate, the committee Lieberman chaired did NOTHING to hold hearings and call the corporate crooks to public account. In military terms, he rendered aid and comfort to the enemy at a time when we should have pressed the attack. Of course, he's continued to do so in different forums and on different issues ever since.

Aside from these substantive grounds, I think a lot of the left's anger at Lieberman (and certainly mine) comes from his repellant style and personality. He just seems like a sanctimonious tool, a public figure much more temperamentally disposed to rhetorically assail a foul-mouthed African-American rapper than a perfectly mannered corporate swindler who's ruined the retirements of thousands of honest Americans, because he's joked with the latter guy at a dinner party or fundraiser. Finally, he didn't join the fight in 2000 with anything like the ferocity and determination the situation demanded.

All this said, I'm very reluctant to see an internecine political fight waged against him, at least in the form of a contested primary. Lieberman at least arguably provides some cover and credibility for moderate Republicans who might be inclined to vote Democratic when their usual party trangresses too egregiously, and it will be all too easy to spin attacks on him as the work of "irrational lefty extremists." Our nascent movement arguably has more to lose and less to gain in this course than by really focusing on guys like Santorum and Burns.

At this point, he seems too far down the list of real wrongdoers; I'd rather see him re-elected and then totally marginalize him within the Senate. But the substantive case against him certainly can be made.

by dajafi 2006-01-19 09:28AM | 0 recs
    People tend to forget that primaries were instituted to blunt the power of political machines and allow the rank and file members of a party to select their candidate. This is what democracy is about. No one "owns" an elective office. If the Democrats of Connecticut decide to reject Lieberman, that's their right! If non-residents of CT wish to contribute to a challenger, that's their right! The rank and file members of a party have the right to support the candidate that most closely represents their views. Those are important principles.  
by MarvToler 2006-01-19 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries
Let me just ask you this: if Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd all say "Joe Lieberman is worth defending; please stop this fight", how seriously would you listen?
by Adam B 2006-01-19 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries
If I was a Democrat registered in Connecticut I would tell 'em to mind their own business.
by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries
I would respectfully disagree.  Lieberman's cheerleaqding for this disastrous war and his GOP style attacks on Democrats who oppose it are unconscionable -- and while Reid, Kennedy, and Dodd have obvious political reasons for giving verbal support to Lieberman, I don't think they'd mind if he was replaced by a more liberal Democrat.  And that's what we're discussing -- if a campaign against Lieberman opened the door to a Republican picking up the seat, I would be opposed to it.  And if Lieberman survives a primary challenge (as indeed he probably will), all Democrats should support him.  Winning back the Senate is the top priority for me, not some Naderite binge of self-destructive moral preening.

Matt, aside from your bizarre suggestion that voting for a Democrat who more closely reflect my views is somehow "reactionary" (an apology would not be out of place), you're general point that we should pick our battles thoughtfully is well taken.  And after thinking about it, I believe we have no choice but to get into this fight.   We aren't going to win every contest, and losing this one will hardly be the death knell for the progressive blogosphere.  But I don't think Lamont will get totally crushed -- neither does Lieberman, based on his threst to go Indie if he loses the primary.  At the very least, a serious challenge to Holy Joe could encourage him to stifle his own reactionary impluses.   And at best, a victory would be a serious blow against Bush's war.  

by Richter 2006-01-19 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries
   The rank and file members do not have to listen to Reid, Dodd, or anyone else. This is ultimately up to the Democrats of Connecticut. It's their primary.  
by MarvToler 2006-01-19 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries
Good point, Marv.
by Richter 2006-01-20 06:51AM | 0 recs
The key is...
...whomever runs against Lieberman has to be better than him. I agree that any campaign that is for "Anyone But Leiberman" will label the blogosphere as vindictive. But if the primary becomes about why Joe Democrat from CT will be a better Senator than Lieberman, then at least you've put forth an understandable rationale for defecting from Lieberman.
by mattbot69 2006-01-19 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The key is...
I agree with this comment as far as it goes, but on the other hand it doesn't go very far.  At this point, how could any primary opponent of Lieberman NOT be better than him?  Lieberman is the most right-wing Democrat in the Northeast.  Indeed, he is to the right of no small number of Republicans.  By definition, any opposition to him would come from the left -- Holy Joe has given the conservatives nothing to complain about.
by Richter 2006-01-21 07:49AM | 0 recs
I've never liked Lieberman
But I would support him if he would just keep his mouth shut about his fellow Dems, something that Bill (not Ben) Nelson seems to be able to do, even though he disagrees with the party line more often then Leiberman.

This isn't about a litmus test; it's about selling your own party down the river to score cheap political points.

I'm in favor of jettisoning Biden for the same reason.

As to joining the fight? Primaries are fare game. Just look at the Brown / Hackett race in Ohio. Here we have two good candidates who have agreed to keep the debate civil and issues-focused. I believe the same thing can happen in Connecticut.

Let's not worry about whether we're backing a losing horse and instead keep focused on electing progressives to office whenever possible. If Lieberman can be beaten in the primary, so be it.

Oh, and there are a few cracks beginning to show in that Connecticut machine, from what I understand.

Boldness wins the day more often than does timidity. Just ask the GOP.

by Tod Westlake 2006-01-19 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I've never liked Lieberman
Just a quick follow-up:

We want progressives elected to high office. Leiberman is not a progressive, therefore we would prefer someone else who is. This is the principle at the heart of my argument.

As to how this is framed? That's up to the spinmeisters.

by Tod Westlake 2006-01-19 05:58AM | 0 recs
Ben Nelson
Doesn't criticize the party. In fact, he's masterful at deflecting interviewer questions asking him to criticize Dems.
by kos 2006-01-19 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Keeping his mouth shut
This is the most important thing. He undermines the Democrats at every turn, savaging individuals like Dean whenever he can and going out of his way to give the Republicans "bipartisan" cover for their noxious policies.

As for taking on the machine, why the #$%#$% not? That's EXACTLY what we're doing in Illinois's 6th district for Christine Cegelis.

by Jim in Chicago 2006-01-19 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I've never liked Lieberman
I agree with Matt that Democratic politics in CT is a machine, and I agree that that machine may be breaking down.  There is too much animosity toward Lieberman.  There are too many CT Dem's, within the machine, or without, who want to vote for someone that can better represent them.  
by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 08:05AM | 0 recs
Anyone who goes to Baghdad and says that things are improving there needs new glasses, more intelligence and arguably a warm confortable couch with a therapist sitting next to him. A senate seat should be reserved for members of the reality based community.


by MarcTGFG 2006-01-19 05:57AM | 0 recs
Will is make the democratic party better?
This is one of your best posts ever.  

How will it make the country better?  It won't.  The better question is will it make the Democratic Party better?  Possibly.

Lieberman is a right of center Democrat just like McCain is a left of center Rethug.  The folks on the right like Liberman and its not suprising that the new left doesn't.

A primary battle should be about the democratic party--a conversation that defines Liberman as out of the democratic mainstream, and as a result defines democratic party values--progressive values.  If we can't pull that off it is not worth it.  If we can't define why Liberman is a bad democrat then spend the money and energy on defeating rethugs.

by aiko 2006-01-19 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Will is make the democratic party better?
I believe that if it makes the Democratic Party better, it will make the country better.  Otherwise, why would any of this matter?
by ZamboniGuy 2006-01-19 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Will is make the democratic party better?
Just to clarify, I don't think McCain is a left of the rightwing idealogue. He comes across as moderate only because he adopts a non confrontational demeanor with democrats and doesn't go around giving hateful speeches about liberals. But his views are very conservative.

As far as Lieberman, his voting record is not as conservative as some of us think(I admit being surprised when someone gave us an idea of some of his votes in a recent post). However, I want him gone because he has an agenda in the middle east and he is putting our troops at risk because of his middle eastern paranoia and he doesn't do anything to strengthen the democratic party or the country. He undermines liberals by indicating that it's OK to look down upon left wing idealogues while he gives a free pass to the right wing idealogues. This only serves to tell the general public it's OK to bully liberals. So one has to look past his individual voting record to see what effect he has overall. Trotting out his voting record does nothing for me because one can use the similar logic to say Bush is a friend of african americans because he gives African American lackeys quite a few decent positions in his administration. True, it shows that Bush personally is not opposed to giving an African American an opportunity if he/she is likeminded, but that is offset by Bush's work against programs like Affirmative Action and others which undermine the african american community as a whole. Likewise,Lieberman is undermining the liberal cause and anti war cause when he gets elected very easily and right wingers can always point to him as the golden example of how democrats can prosper if they toe the "proper" line.

by Pravin 2006-01-19 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Will is make the democratic party better?
How will it make the country better?  It won't.

I disagree. See my post at the end of this topic.

by Mathwiz 2006-01-20 10:41AM | 0 recs
So Who I sthe Machine
I lived in CT during the late 70s/early 80s and it was a machine state, with faux rebel, hack-extrodinaire Ella Grasso as the guv. Still, there also were rebel pols like Weicker & Toby Moffitt.

Instead of saying there's a machine, tell us who is part of it (e.g., pols, interest groups) and also who has tried to fight it successfully or otherwise.

by rich 2006-01-19 06:04AM | 0 recs
Its pretty basic -
I have to start with an observation about the this article - its premise is simply wrong.  We will never be sitting at the head table of the Democratic Party because of both numbers and $'s so worrying about that fact is a waste of time.  However, even when we loose an election or a debate we influence future events.  Things like Daily Kos, this blog, and other progrogressive blogs are being noticed.  If we as a movement, attitude, or whatever we are don't go out and take a hack at our enemies why do we matter?  There has to be some cost in opposing us or no one will ever pay us any attention.

Now to be specific - we should support a challenger to "punish" Joe Momentum for being a boot-lick to W and his administration.  If we win - great!  The power Dems will take notice and pay us and our views some form of respect.  However if we don't those same Dems now know there is a cost for doing what Joe has done.  THAT IS NOT TRIVIAL!  In the latter case we won't directly change what Joe does or says however he now has cause to think twice before rushing to the White House to bow before the image of GW whenever the spirit moves him.  

Ultimately we have to make our opponents pay some cost for doing bad things or no one needs to care about what we think, say, or want.  This, above all is a basic fact of politics and comes up under the general rule - help your friends and make your enemies pay.

by mwfolsom 2006-01-19 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Its pretty basic -
exactly, look at how many years of hard work, it took the religious right to get to this position of influencing an administration. If you said way back in the 80s, these wackos would be controlling the country in a decade, you would have been laughed at.
by Pravin 2006-01-19 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Its pretty basic -

A good example is the NRA. You know, they're not really that large - more so in some places in others. But what they can and will do is vote AGAINST you if you piss them off. They have gotten people dis-elected. That's actual political power.

Primaries are the place for us to do this. We can (ugh) pledge to support whoever wins the nomination. And note, Lieberman himself is NOT willing to do that, by rumor at least. But until someone is the official Democratic candidate, we reserve the right to a family quarrel.

Lierberman deserves to lose because he is a tool of the Republican Party, whether he knows it or not. It's beyond a failure to support Democrats, he does us active harm. Gotta go, Joe.

by tatere 2006-01-20 12:37AM | 0 recs
And this is different than any other race how?
Everything you just listed can be repeated throughout the US.

When it comes right down to it, it will be the voters in Connecticut who will make the decision.

As such, the only reason that a challenger has any legs is because of the fact that Dems activists IN CONNECTICUT are unhappy with Lieberman.

So, for your lsit...

The Connecticut Party seems to already be unhappy with Lieberman (or you need to be more specific about what you mean when you say CT party).

Dean can't side against us, he is not allowed to endorse in the primary and will be well aware that to do so will dry up all the small donor moeny that has been flowing into the DNC...

Harry Reid is doing nothing about the other Senator from his state, is that stopping us? And does it even matter?

As for your sepcial interest groups, who cares. Any interference on their part would be a turf battle move and they would be in the position of trying to explain how Joe is better than the alternative as much as we would need to. Besides, I thought we were all about taking the party back from special interests...

As far as Senator Dodd....not if it looks like Joe is going to possible lose.

The one thing about being a pariah in your party, when you get in trouble and turn around to look for help you don't see anyone there...

Besides, when has this been about gaining interest within the party?

by Nazgul35 2006-01-19 06:08AM | 0 recs
Other points

  1.  We need a blue redstate and it isn't kos or the liberal think tanks.  someone should think about what it could look like.

  2.  I agree that the progressive blogosphere as an institution is immature but I also see a lot of work being done to help focus and define what it means to be a progressive democrat. eventually there will be agreement on basic tenets, but we are not there yet.

  3.  The established media is listening.  Hits on Google is not the best or only inidicator.

  4. Doesn't Dean have to stay neutral in a primary fight?

  5.  We can't make the country better until we have an improved democratic party that is never cowtowed into supporting invasions of other countries that didn't attack us first.
by aiko 2006-01-19 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Other points
We need a blue redstate and it isn't kos or the liberal think tanks.  someone should think about what it could look like.

It's a matter of sequence. The right has had institutions that support the growth of their young "stars" - workshops & seminars, think-tank fellowships, etc. There are so damned few lib think-tanks; those that do exist wind up having their paltry number of ex-interns and fellows inhaled by the Beltway party establishment, with many from the 90s gravitating (naturally) to the third-way dems.

There's so much to build on the left.

  • Would the seed money for progressive radio have been better spent on one or two left-of-center institutions?
  • Are any of the existing institutions working at a meta-level, with a major goal of creating offspring-foundations/think-tanks over a long-term horizon through whatever source funding can be found?
  • Has anybody here included in their own estate planning structures for funding institutions on the left? (It's a standard technique that's required to build and approach funding critical mass needed.) (How many of us would be willing to urge a parent to do this?)

The comparison with RedState is a poor one. Their in-place structures make for another part of the right's rigid top-down power. The left blogosphere now represents its very antithesis. Would you prefer otherwise? If so, there's alway THE NEW REPUBLIC and their pals at the DLC.
by wystler 2006-01-19 08:03AM | 0 recs
Decrepit Party
This column by Nancy Goldstein on Raw Story tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Senate Democrats.

Lieberman, Biden, Schumer, even Kennedy. They are dead wood. They need to be replaced with new committed Democrats.

by Mister Go 2006-01-19 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
Kennedy has never waivered and never rested.  He's true blue and a hero.
by ChgoSteve 2006-01-19 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
Absolutely on target. The Democratic Party is fossilized and filled with deadwood at the top, the middle and the bottom. I give up. How many Senate Democrats are as young as John Roberts? How many are under fifty? How many are under sixty?

This is exactly on target about Harry Reid:

First of all, Reid is no Gingrich. He's not a great leader, or even a good one, let alone a visionary. He's not an inspiring or even particularly coherent speaker, and he can't keep weasels like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson or drama queens like Joe Biden in line. On his watch, the party formerly associated with the New Deal and the Great Society has continued its betrayal of working people, labor, the social safety net, civil liberties, and choice.

By contrast, anyone who tuned into the Alito hearings witnessed an incoherent Democratic party in utter disarray - a virtual parody of a drawing room comedy with Kennedy as the slightly disheveled elder statesman with a taste for whiskey, Schumer as the earnest young bounder with a taste for power, and Biden as the crazy, delusional nephew who thinks he's Napoleon.

Are Kennedy, Schumer and Biden really the best we can do? Are they all going to stick around until they are as old as Lazarus or Sen. Byrd?

Gingrich and his crew had an eye to the next generation, and were willing to bypass seniority in favor of hunger and talent when appointing committee chairs. By contrast, political ascendancy in the Democratic Party still operates like the succession of kings. Howard Dean and Barack Obama, who would be treated as rising stars in any functional organization, are kept under lock and key. Dean's only allowed out to raise money and take flack from the same Democrats who have been steering the party into a ditch for nearly a decade, and Obama's only allowed out to criticize Dean.

I'm sorry, but Barack Obama's little guest appearance at the CSPAN Reform announcement was stiff, awkward and staged. No big surprise, he's probably getting rusty from sitting on his hands all day long.

Hells bells people. I'm over 50 and I think Democrats are a bunch of senile old geezers.

by Gary Boatwright 2006-01-19 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
Yup.  Look at the Senate bios.  A lot don't mention age but the white hair is all over.  Besides, you can figure it.  

Akaka, 81. Baucus, at least 59 and probably a lot older ("graduated from Stanford Law in 1971"). Bayh, about 50.  Biden, 62. Bingamon 61.  Boxer,64.  Byrd, 88.  Carper, about 59.  Clinton, 58.  Conrad, 57.  Dasyton, 58.  Dodd, 60.  Dorgan, 63.  Durbin 60.  Feingold, 51.  Cantwell, doesn't say (too bad, she's on the younger side).  Feinstein, runs away from it.  Clearly well over 60.  IIRC, 68.

That's about half.  Let's just say it started with Akaka's "youth was interrupted by World War II" and ended with Di Fi.

by David Kowalski 2006-01-19 09:37AM | 0 recs
This is easy!
We're encouraging a primary challenge to Lieberman for exactly the same reasons we would be encouraging a primary challenge to Zell Miller if he were still around.
by ChgoSteve 2006-01-19 06:14AM | 0 recs
kos said it a while back...
i believe kos laid out a "partisan purity" test, or something like it, a while ago, which distinguishes Lieberman from, let's say, Ben Nelson or Joe Biden.  the test is, are you a partisan Democrat who will not, on the whole, criticize other Democrats, even though you may not vote with them?

the distinction being that while Nelson may not vote the majority Democratic position as much as we'd like, he does not stab other Democrats in the back.

so while the Sierra Club is an "environmental" group, we are really a "whip" group - we go after people who are weakening the Democratic party.  seems like a worthwhile goal to me.

by myddaholic 2006-01-19 06:32AM | 0 recs
also, where are you from?
there's another dimension here - to what degree does your voting record reflect your constituency?

there is a feeling that we shuold excuse Ben Nelson's voting record, since we need to elect Democrats in solid red states like Nebraska, but we can be less lax of people like Lieberman, from lean-Dem states like Connecticut.

that also seems like a reasonable adjustment of the test: it's 7 parts partisanship and 3 parts ideology, adjusted to the official's constituency.

Lieberman fails pretty significant parts of that test.

by myddaholic 2006-01-19 06:34AM | 0 recs
yes. . .
and Lieberman has a history of "shiv-ing" his "friends" as many CT Dems could speak to, in terms of his tenure as both AG and Senator.  He's a bad egg.  He doesn't defend other Dems; in fact, I think he relishes being a "controversial" Democrat.  I wouldn't mind this so much if he actually ascribed to a value system that was coherent and honest -- other than his Joe-Value System of Specific Privilege and Understanding.

He should be ashamed of himself.  And since he's not, it's time for Joe to be gone.  All the "practical arguments" I've heard to the contrary are deeply flawed and based solely in fear.

Joe Lieberman is not, and should not be, a representative of either Connecticut state interests or the Democratic Party.

by Voice 2006-01-20 09:13AM | 0 recs
It's about accountability for me, Matt
If I were Lamont's campaign manager, I would make the point to voters that Lieb. isn't fulfilling his constitutional duty to provide a check to the executive branch's power. As the ranking chairman of the govt oversight committee(that's not the right name but hopefully you get the point), he has the responsibility to make sure that the executive branch is running smoothly and that legislation is properly implemented by the agencies within the Executive Branch. Unfortunately, Lieb has not fulfilled that duty. For instance, he did not raise concerns about Brownies' lack of credentials for heading FEMA. As far as I know, I haven't heard him call for a Truman-like commission to investigate war profiteering.

There's also his role in the Enron/accounting scandal as well.

He may have a great voting record, but there's more to being a Congressman than voting a certain way. Oversight is just as important and perhaps may be even more important considering this administration's track record.....  

by ademption 2006-01-19 06:32AM | 0 recs
My two cents
I would argue that the blogs represent the base of the party. Unlike the Republican party, our base are tools in the primaries and then thrown aside for the general election. As a result we have a party infested with politicians and wannabees, not warriors and leaders. If we could pick off Lieberman, it would send shock waves throughout the party. It would demand that the base be taken seriously. And remember, no one is advocating a widespread uprising here, just a surgical lesson.

As for your trepidation, I share a lot of your concerns. But here are my answers:

    What have we accomplished? Well, I have an outlet. I am much better informed. In short, the blogs are turning activists into warriors.
    The CT party will line up against us. This may be true, but I believe that the CT party is like most state parties and so is driven by the base. This can also be mitigated by stating the goal of such an action, that it is about taking back our party. This must be drummed into all of those who may oppose such an action.
    If we lose we will be called losers. Well, I think the party establishment will be VERY FRIGHTENED. I believe it will be the genesis of the blogs within our party, and we will be taken as deadly serious.
    Reactionary against those who don't share our view. True enough, but we have become warriors. We are not throwing our own under the bus, we are demanding that our core values are upheld. Nothing more, nothing less. There are certain lines that can not be crossed in our party. We elect these people to represent us, so we should not feel they are beyond reproach.
    We are picking a fight, not running on something. Not true. The idea of doing this makes me sad and angry. That we have been so marginalized that we must remind the party we are the warrior class. We indeed are running on something, the power structure of the party.
    What are our demands? That we reset the party structure to serve our core values. That we have an elected leadership who will be followed by our elected warriors, who faithfully fight for us and those who can not protect themselves.

by Citizen80203 2006-01-19 06:38AM | 0 recs
History lesson
The Christian Coalition Moral Majority types went through the same thing.  The GOP took them seriously when they showed they could field candidates and threaten the GOP establishment.

It's one thing to question whether this is the right fight, but not meaningful to question whether we should ever threaten to shake up the establishment, as the counterarguments can be construed to argue.

In the end, I think this is the right fight.  Leiberman is the poastor boy for the sellout Vichy Dem crowd.  The update to the main post gives good reasons why he should be challenged within the party on principle.

This is the right fight, and a necessary developmental milestone for the grassroots/netroots.  Furthermore, I see it as a win-win.  Even if we make him spend money and work  for his campaign, and get crushed, they will take us seriously in a way they have not so far.  The truth is we will have no power until they fear us.

Dean may come out against us but his heart won't be in it, and everyone will know it.  Reid too.  This is a win-win, even if we don't take him down.  And yet, we might.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-19 06:38AM | 0 recs
It would serve as a counterbalance
Getting rid of Lieberman would send a message that going after the so called "crossover" vote at the expense of the base is not always wise. Whenever a person like Dean loses, the MSM uses that as validation that people who cater to the left or even give the perception that they are friendly to the left do so at their own peril while being moderate or conservative does no harm to one's career. This is the reason why people like Hillary and others don't feel the need to speak out on issues until it's too late. Gore has learned his lesson. The rest have not.

The current political climate is why a person like Lieberman doesn't fear spouting utter crap about Iraq while the Deans of the world are held to a rigid standard. Lieberman doesn't fear any loss in political power by being obnoxious with the stand and his views on shows on like Hannity where he openly pooh poohs fellow democrats while he never says a negative word about Bush.

Making life tough for Lieberman(even if you don't succeed in ousting him) would send a strong message not to take liberals for granted(and I am not even that liberal, yet I feel the need to send this geezer a message).

by Pravin 2006-01-19 06:40AM | 0 recs
Hey, ho
Hey, ho
GOP Joe needs to go
by sixteenwords 2006-01-19 06:41AM | 0 recs
CT democrat against Lieberman
I don't live in CT now, but I lived there from 1979-1990, and voted for Lieberman in 1988.  If I were in Connecticut, I would urge opposition to Joe Lieberman.

Lieberman's recent embarrassing performance on the Imus show is about enough to demonstrate what I dislike about him.  His understanding of the Middle East is utterly delusional.  Also, he continually betrays what I consider to be the core issues of the Democratic party, namely civil rights and the religious protections of the First Amendment.  Whenever Bush needs Democratic cover for the false piety method of governance, he can count on Joe Lieberman to help him out.

Joe Lieberman makes the Democratic party weaker.  He's like the NFL coach who can be counted on for 8-10 wins per season, but can never win in the postseason.  Superficially, he's good for the party.  But if the Democratic party wants to actually run things, they cannot afford to have self-interested operators like Lieberman and Joe Biden who make their 'moderate' postures by continually undermining the left.  

What bothers me most about Lieberman is the contrast between his speech on the Senate floor admonishing Clinton and his deafening silence with regard to all the nonsense that Bush has been up to.  Have we heard Lieberman criticize Bush for the torture policy?  The spying policy?  The judicial choices?  We've heard none of that.  Instead, we hear Lieberman repeatedly parrot the Bush line about the wonderful developments in the Middle East.

If I were in Connecticut now, I would definitely support opposition.  Joe Lieberman represents a view of America that I disagree with completely.  I could not support him.  I want to see Democrats that oppose the President.  Lieberman doesn't do that.

by RickD 2006-01-19 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: CT democrat against Lieberman
What bothers me most about Lieberman is the contrast between his speech on the Senate floor admonishing Clinton and his deafening silence with regard to all the nonsense that Bush has been up to.  Have we heard Lieberman criticize Bush for the torture policy?  The spying policy?  The judicial choices?  We've heard none of that.  Instead, we hear Lieberman repeatedly parrot the Bush line about the wonderful developments in the Middle East.


by Michael Bersin 2006-01-19 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: CT democrat against Lieberman
Have we heard Lieberman criticize Bush for the torture policy?  The spying policy?  The judicial choices?

No, no, and no. They dragged the carrot of the SecDef job in front of him for a day or two. He spouted the words Rove wanted to hear at the time, then they dropped it and played him for a fool.

He's a sucker for Bush  (wow, that was has some hidden meaning) - and his status as a Fox News Democrat should guarantee him at least a stong challenger, and the support of those constituents he has neglected.

A good challenge may help him see the error of his ways, but I don't know if he'll ever come back to the person he was who got that first Democratic nomination to the Senate.

by zappatero 2006-01-19 07:29AM | 0 recs
It's about the morals
Lieberman has consistently failed to be a moral leader to the people of Connecticut and to the U.S.

I don't live in CT, but I don't believe that morals here are different in MI than they are there.

As Americans, we respect and honor the Constitution.

As Americans, we respect and honor basic human rights.

As Americans, we don't torture.

As Americans, we do not occupy sovereign countries, kill and maim civilians, risk our troops and our homeland security for lies.

These are our morals and Lieberman simply doesn't promote or lead by example.

by RayneToday 2006-01-20 03:34AM | 0 recs
Lieberman isn't loyal to the people who got him where he is today.  He criticizes the large majority of Democrats (Liberals), who nominated him for Vice President 6 years ago and has become the President's favorite Democrat.  As noted above, there is no real electoral reason why Lieberman has to pander to the GOP.  He is from CT, a solid blue state, where we would love a true-blue senator.  Instead we have Dodd (who is loyal), and this DINO.  I don't mind if he disagrees with the policies of the Democratic Party (which is basically limited to foreign policy, while being pretty solid on domestic issues).  I don't like him going on Hannity & Colmes all the time praising the President endlessly and denouncing the leadership and rank-and-file of his party.  He is not Ben Nelson, he does not need to run to the right to win.  Joe, come back to us true Democrats, or leave the party.  We have found an alternative.
by Max Friedman 2006-01-19 06:51AM | 0 recs
Democratic Support
If Dean comes out supporting Lieberman, we'll know that its probably because he's head of the DNC, not exactly because he supports him personally. As chair of the DNC, his hands are tied. Harry Reid for the same reasons.

The party can be beat, even if it is a machine. Dodd is just as corrupt as Biden in terms of the credit card industry (remember that Frontline documentary on bankruptcy?) Dodd is another Dem senator needing a primary challenge in the future.

I can't say I know Lieberman like the back of my hand, but why would environmental advocacy gruops line up behind him? I'm not saying they wouldn't, but I'm just curious what he's done for the environment. Isn't Lieberman also a free-trader (once again, you all can certainly enlighten me on the subject.) If that's the case, labor should back away as quickly as possible, especially if Lamont is pro-fair trade.

by gatordemocrat 2006-01-19 06:55AM | 0 recs
Dean's on board
We need to read between the lines here.

JIM Dean gets it; DFA has been ready fight this battle.

And Howard Dean may be polite in public as DNC Chair, but he's already very familiar with the uphill battle.  He knows it can be won and won by pure, raw grassroots activism; his chairmanship is testament to that fact.  I'll bet that Howard remains neutral and says it's in the hands of the people of Connecticut.

Remember Carville saying last year, "Why didn't somebody fix this thing?", in reference to the tradition of the backroom negotiating to appoint a DNC chair...we Deaniacs in DFA campaigned and got our man in place, dealt the machine the loss it deserved as an undemocratic (little d) process.

The folks of CT need only to use the same grassroots effort to change their elected officials, exercise real democracy.  I hope they realize that "conventional wisdom" isn't wise but mere convention.

by RayneToday 2006-01-20 04:24AM | 0 recs
Corporate Shill?
Lieberman in Enronland

Joseph Lieberman, an Enron Democrat who bagged Enron campaign contributions and who worked hard to block accounting reforms.

The Tyranny of Triangulation

One major reason Democrats have failed to get traction on the issue is that Lieberman has, so far, been unwilling to play hardball as chairman of the Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee. (It's not the only committee investigating Enron, but it has primary jurisdiction over fraud and corruption within the executive branch.) Three months after Lieberman said he would launch an investigation of Enron's collapse, the committee has held only a handful of hearings and has yet to subpoena a single Bush administration official. Instead, Lieberman recently sent "requests" for information to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and others -- the congressional equivalent of "pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top." (They ignored the deadline for responding.)

Enron Democrats

Lieberman's Slippery Slope

Senator Joe Lieberman . . .  is one of the faulty watchdogs and also a leading gatekeeper who blocked the timely reform of corporate finance. . . . he has shilled vigorously, sometimes venomously, for the very players who are new icons of corruption--major auditing firms, corporate executives who cashed stock options early while investors took a bath and, especially, those self-inflating high-tech companies in Silicon Valley that drove the stock-market bubble. As a New Democrat, Lieberman held the door for their escapades.

His most important crusade was protecting the loopy accounting for corporate stock options. . . . symptomatic of the deceptive bookkeeping that permeated corporate affairs during the boom and the bubble.

Back in 1993, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed to stop it, Lieberman went to war. "I believe that the global pre-eminence of America's vital technological industries could be damaged by the proposal," he warned. The FASB, he insinuated, was politically motivated or simply didn't grasp the bright promise of the New Economy. Lieberman organized a series of letters warning the accountants' board to stop its meddling. In the Senate, he mobilized a resolution urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to squelch the reform. It passed 88 to 9. The regulators backed off--and stock prices soared on the inflated earnings reports. Whenever FASB tried to reopen the issue, Lieberman jumped them again. He was well rewarded by Silicon Valley and auditing firms. He is the New Democrats' favorite candidate for 2004.

Lieberman's victory was extraordinarily costly for the economy, not to mention duped investors, unhinging valuations and fostering the overinvestments that now hang over the tech industry. Accounting professor Itzhak Sharav of the Columbia University Business School describes Lieberman's intervention as the first step on "the slippery slope that got us mired in the Enron swamp." . . .

Lieberman Caught in Political Bind

Big pharmaceutical companies and health insurers have been among the most generous donors to Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman . . . In his nearly 12 years in the Senate, Lieberman has been one of the strongest advocates for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries . . .

When Lieberman co-founded a campaign group called the New Democrat Network in 1996 to raise money for centrist Democratic candidates, drugmakers and health insurers stepped in as major supporters.

Aetna Inc., based in Hartford, Conn., and Citigroup Inc., which merged in 1998 with Travelers insurance, have been the two largest donors this year, contributing $50,000 each in unregulated soft money, according to new records released to The Washington Post by the New Democrat Network. American International Group Inc. and Cigna Corp., whose health insurance business is headquartered in Connecticut, each put up $25,000.

The New Democrat Network has also received financial backing from such pharmaceutical giants as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Schering-Plough Corp. and Glaxo Wellcome Inc., along with the industry's main trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.  . . .

Insurance and pharmaceuticals provide Lieberman with his fifth- and seventh-largest sources of support, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Lieberman is one of the few Democrats who supports limits on the liability of companies that are sued for injuries caused by products or services. He also supports one of the key goals of HMOs: limits on punitive damages and independent, outside review of judgments against health plans.

Lieberman also has lobbied hard for pharmaceutical companies on issues ranging from research and development tax credits to streamlined FDA reviews of applications for marketing new drugs.

by tgeraghty 2006-01-19 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Corporate Shill?
WOW! I just posted, and I totally forgot about the corporate shill angle.

Although to me this isn't the most morally compelling meme, I suppose it's definitely the most effective one. After all, "culture of corruption" seems to be getting a lot of media play. Why not demonstrate how dedicated to principle we are by being willing to sweep out those corrupt individuals in our own house?

by chainsmokr 2006-01-19 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Corporate Shill?
I think the issue could be framed in a quite morally compelling way.

Lieberman says he is "pro-business," by which he means "give business everything it wants" so it can maximize profits, even when those profits come at the expense of the common good. Anybody who disagrees with this can be dismissed as "anti-business."

We are anti-corrupt business, anti-special interest business. We want to create a level playing field for businesses that play by the rules and do right by their workers and communities and not just their shareholders and executives.

Corrupt practices and special-interest corporate welfare make that impossible. Since Lieberman won't fight against these things, and in fact aids and abets such practices, he must go.

by tgeraghty 2006-01-19 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Corporate Shill?

Branding Leiberman as the corrupt corporate shill that he is and then campaigning against him will lend credence to the anti-corruption platform emerging for Democrats. It shows that we don't have two sets of rules and are willing to go after corrupt officials regardless of if there is a (D) or an (R) after their name.

I think challenging Leiberman is the right thing to do, both "morally" and strategically. Stratigically, branding him as corrupt seems like a play out of the Republican campaigning handbook by attacking an opponent's perceived strength. And we know from experience this works. What makes this different is that Leiberman really is corrupt, so campaigning against him this way actually is righteous.

But being right doesn't automaticaly produce a win. It really comes down to that and I don't know CT politics well enough to make that judgement. But winning doesn't necessarily have to be the endgame. If we lose the challenge, is there something else to be gained in the process that makes it worth it? What are the pros and cons of challenging and losing?

by gina 2006-01-19 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Corporate Shill?
also, I just had a conversation with someone who quoted from a survey on values (Gallup or that other one done by a religious group...don't remember the name) where it showed that both conservatives and liberals rated corporate CEO's as the least trustworthy. I'm sorry I don't have the source myself, and so I guess this is based on rumor. But if it is true, then one wedge issue we can have with  the religious right (who have teamed up with the corporatists to form the republican coalition) will be corporate corruption. I think this strategy can be used on Leiberman as well as Republicans.

But I don't have the source of this info in front of  me, so this theory may be total BS.

by gina 2006-01-19 09:08AM | 0 recs
Corporate Shill, part II
Wanker of the Day

Joe Lieberman, who put up on his site:

Lieberman Statement on Vote Against Bankruptcy Reform Bill

WASHINGTON - Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today made the following statement on the passage of S. 256 the Bankruptcy Reform Bill by a vote of 74 to 25.

"I have always supported bankruptcy reform legislation in the Senate when it has reflected a bipartisan effort to enact a balanced bill for both debtors and creditors and I have opposed it when confronted with a bill that seemed one-sided. This is not a balanced bill. I voted against this bill because it failed to close troubling loopholes that protect wealthy debtors, and yet it deals harshly with average Americans facing unforeseen medical expenses or a sudden military deployment. The Senate simply rejected out of hand many worthwhile amendments that would have protected these and other working Americans who find themselves in dire financial straits through no fault of their own. As a result, I believe this is a seriously flawed bill and I am disappointed at its passage."

Lieberman of course voted for cloture, which was when opposition would have mattered.

by tgeraghty 2006-01-19 08:27AM | 0 recs
Lieberman prevents the truth from being heard!
Here is my starting point: in a primary in CT, I think it's a given that the "base" overwhelmingly sees Bush for what he is - a liar. There are crimes being committed, and the Democrats (however weakly they may do this) are trying to hold those responsible to account. By undercutting dissent, he is an enabler in:

-the squandering of American lives
-the mass slaughter of Iraqis
-misappropriation of billions of funds
-the lies told the American people to sell the war

-torture, and extraordinary rendition in violation of the Geneva Conventions
-wiretapping in violation of FISA
-and more

I suppose I could go and find links to specific speeches to back up the complaints I have. Unfortunately, I'm at work. But I think my main point is one that has been missed. And that is, as a Fifth Column, Lieberman is much more destructive to an honest discussion of disastrous policies than any Republican could ever be. Because how many front-page newspaper stories have you seen  - that could have shown a violent disagreement over policy! - pushing the "divided Democrats" meme. The paper prints:
Republicans support X disastrous policy
Dems are divided
and what is average Joe led to believe? "Oh, I guess the Republican policy isn't THAT bad" or "Oh, I see no one is standing up for me!".

Discussion over.

by chainsmokr 2006-01-19 06:59AM | 0 recs
Al Gore said it best the other day
Out of what, 435 congressional seats, only a dozen appear to be really contested? An incumbent, whether in the House or the Senate, has an enormous, possibly unfair, advantage these days. Why should an incumbent listen to us, the voters, if they feel that once they have been elected and re-elected they are home free? One of the biggest weaknesses we have now is the lack of decent, committed people willing to run for public office. Whether or not we support our current senators, how can we keep them honest without competent challengers? In business, we have competition everyday; hopefully, that competition means that we need to be more attuned to our target markets. Where there is no competition, customer care falls into a ditch. Ever notice how you're treated by the utilities? That's why Lieberman needs a challenger, and on that basis it's nothing personal it's just trying to find the very best person for the job. Would you hire for an important position in your company based on just one resume?
by grayslady 2006-01-19 07:03AM | 0 recs
On another part of this.
Chris, you answered your own point about why the Right Wing blogs are respected internally, as opposed to us. I quote...

"the founders of Redstate were already members of the Republican political elite"

But some of the liberal bloggers are respected..I quote...

"Individual actors - Josh Marshall, John Aravosis, Steve Clemons - are taken seriously, but they were established before blogs emerged. "

In other words, the "netroots" when run by established insiders (and thus act the way said insiders want) are respected, and aren't when they aren't.

Shocking, isn't it?

by ElitistJohn 2006-01-19 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: On another part of this.
Gah! Sorry, I mean "Matt".
by ElitistJohn 2006-01-19 07:11AM | 0 recs
His support for policies
that are unconstitutional.

An old example is his comment, "the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion" (Sunday, August 27,2000, at the Fellowship Chapel Church in Detroit.)

by misscee 2006-01-19 07:09AM | 0 recs
We just don't like Joe anymore
There is one reason Ned Lamont is probably running, and it's not because of the blogs, and it's more than Iraq: Connecticut is just plain pissed off at its senators right now. Powerful senators like Ted Stevens seem to bring home millions of dollars, while CT has just been shut out of Homeland Security money (again).

Liberman is nationally known, and even recieved 51 million votes as a VP candidate, but he just does not seem to care anymore about working for his constituents, as he's still pissed off about the lack of support he recieved in the 2004 primaries. We gave him a free pass in 2000 (64-35 against a man who was later arrested for molesting children), as we were all excited for his VP run, but now with his support of the war, his time has run out.

From what I've read Joe did next to nothing in the fight to save the sub base (that's Dodd's baby), and I know he has not been back in the state to help raise money for the 3 close and expensive congressional races here. Instead, he's running around spreading GOP talking points, and in CT, where even the Republicans have separated themselves from the Fundamentals and the Bushies, that just does not work.

The machines will not be a problem, as they are preoccupied with the gubernatorial primary. The New Haven machine in particular is going all out for Destefano, and will not piss off the liberal Joe-haters as it will definetely cost them votes in the primary, coupled with disinterest in the general election.

National Dems also won't come here stumping for Joe, because CT is a rich state, and Ned Lamont is from Greenwich and presumably has rich friends, so they will not risk pissing off CT liberals because they are a large and rich base for the national party.

Discontent in Joe is quiet, but it has been building for a while. Now that there is actually a real Democrat to vote for, CT will not just settle for Joe again, and thus this is a good fight in which the blogs can raise their profile while helping to elect a real Democrat from a base state.

by ctman1638 2006-01-19 07:10AM | 0 recs
Good question
You raise a very good and fair question. There are many reasons for opposing Lieberman, and Kos articulates some of them.  But so far, the opposition is more visceral than articulate.  As usual, we are not doing a good job of articulating what we stand for.  The comments so far aren't really answering your question.  I'll put more work on this shortly, but wanted to endorse your fair and constructive criticism.
by camilow 2006-01-19 07:19AM | 0 recs
Let the numbers do the talking
If grassroots Dems let the numbers do more of the talking, they'll do a better job of making their case.

Check these out:

There is a disconnect when Lieberman's score is substantially different from other elected officials from his state.  His scores on the environment, civil and criminal justice and on war and peace are considerably below an acceptable mark, quite a bit off those of his counterparts.  Were I organizing against Lieberman, these are the issues that I would hammer on.  Using these scores and talking about performance removes hyperbole from the mix, makes it easier to build a case for another candidate.  (And the competing candidate better have concrete, constructive responses on these same issues, or there's no reason to change.)

by RayneToday 2006-01-20 04:57AM | 0 recs
Connecticut blogosphere has to take the lead on this.
by Alice Marshall 2006-01-19 07:22AM | 0 recs
a more nebulous but fundamental problem with Joe
Some Democratic pols are forever triangulating, focus grouping, etc. to the point where they have no real values.  Joe L. has his own particular brand of doing this.  

He is so determined to be the "reasonable middle", so determined to be the broker, the swing vote that he will split the difference with the right wingnuts, NO MATTER HOW FAR RIGHT THEY GO.  He would split the difference with Attila the Hun if that were who was in the White House.

Always meeting the Repubs half way does three things:

  •  He is in a perpetual rightward drift, chasing the ever-receding Republicans

  •  He has no principles (apparently) which will ever cause him to say enough is enough

  •  Most important, to split the difference with the Administration gives legitimacy to what they do.  It means that Joe thinks that they have a reasonable position and he will therefore meet them half way.

This last is what is the worst about him.  There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING reasonable about 90% of their positions.  To always seek compromise just for the sake of compromise sends the message that he thinks they are OK, but he is just not quite as far to the right as they are.

A pox on him.  I dont know if the blogs will lend "official" support to his opponent.  I do know a lot of people who will be happy to throw money at anyone who even might cause Joe some problems.

He deserves problems.  I want to send him a message.

Steve Kyle

by sck5 2006-01-19 07:30AM | 0 recs
Building A Progressive Bench
Ned Lamont probably will lose. This time anyway. Christine Cegelis lost her first time out. Steve Young lost his first time out. Chuck Pennacchio is probably going to lose. Practically everybody loses their first time out. What's the alternative? Are we going to stick with supporting sure winners?

More than anything else, I view this as building a progressive bench and letting progressive Democrats know that they are not alone. We are going to make mistakes. We will be ridiculed and criticized by the M$M, the GOP, the Democratic Party and talk radio hosts. Who cares? We take our licking and keep coming back for more. Hopefully, a little older and a little wiser.

Edison didn't invent the lightbulb his first time out. Maybe he should have quit while he was behind.

by Gary Boatwright 2006-01-19 07:37AM | 0 recs
How's this for disturbing:
You've already picked a candidate and you don't know what you stand for.
by dweeks 2006-01-19 07:40AM | 0 recs
Lieberman sees himself as the opposed to progressive forces in the Democratic party.  Reference his speech to the National Press Club in 2003.  He will continue to obstruct progressive policies as a matter of principal.
Second, he is a tool of the insurance companies.  Why do we want him undercutting us as we enter the next great battle, on health care reform?
Third, he doesn't just support Bush's policy in Iraq.  He was advocating that we directly overthrow Hussein for years.  There is no room between him and the Bushites on Iraq, on principal.
Fourth,he supported the Capital Gains tax cut, which encourages gambling over investment, and goes directly into the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of the less well off.
Finally, whatever his claims of support for labor, these are undercut by his support of candidates for the Supreme Court like Roberts, who are highly pro-business.
by aravir 2006-01-19 07:41AM | 0 recs
Principles vs. Long-term political strategy
Matt, I think this is a great post and as you well know I am a big proponent of grassroots definitions of principles as a lens through which to view our political decisions. That being said, reading DavidNYC's basic poll analysis of Specter v. Toomey in reference to a potential primary challenge for Joementum got me thinking about what the long-term political implications are of an effective primary challenge, even if it doesn't lead to victory.

As we witnessed with Toomey (who as other have correctly pointed out was well known and funded much earlier than Lamont), so-called conservative Republicans rallied around their fellow incumbent. In a way it was surprising to see Santorum, Bush and others out campaigning for Specter, and I suspect if they hadn't done that Specter would have lost the Primary... and of course Specter knows this. He owes his current seat on the Senate to the Bush/Santorum wing of the Republican party and we are seeing this quite clearly during the Alito/Roberts hearings and we are likely to keep seeing this during the NSA wiretapping hearings.

So what does this mean for us in terms of Lieberman? My preliminary thinking is that you are absolutely correct that we will be out on our own on this one, we might be able to get DFA/MoveOn involved, but all the major players will likely rally to Lieberman's side.... including Dean. However, and this is the key, if Lieberman needs Dean and others to 'save' him in the primary, then he will owe them far more than he currently does...

Lieberman was elevated from relative obscurity (or as obscure as a Senator can be) by Gore in '00, and I suspect an effective (i'm not yet prepared to define 'effective' here) primary challenge to him could lead to Lieberman's return to the fold as JAS (just another senator)...

I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I haven't fully fleshed this out yet, so I am likely missing something pretty big, but it seems plausible to me.

by Marc Laitin 2006-01-19 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Principles vs. Long-term political strategy
What kept Leiberman in the spotlight after the election wasn't his stellar (ahem) run at VP. It was his Bush-sympathizer soundbites. Leiberman is not just positioning himself with this stuff, he really believes it. I don't think he'll alter his positions because he "owes Dean" after an election.
by dweeks 2006-01-19 08:00AM | 0 recs
It's not THAT big of a deal
The GOP righties ran a primary challenge to Specter in 2004.  Did it hurt Specter?


The only thing I'd say is that any primary challenge against Lieberman is a waste of money.

by jcjcjc 2006-01-19 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: It's not THAT big of a deal
Specter was about 2% points from being defeated in a primary.  That hurt, I am sure.  
by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: It's not THAT big of a deal
"Did it hurt Specter?" is the wrong question.  "Did it ensure would support the right-wing agenda?" is the right one.  To fend off the right, Specter had to cave in to them.  The right wing gets the respect of its party by challenging those who don't agree with them.  In contrast, the left of the Democratic party is taken for granted, even regularly ridiculed by many of its leaders.  The entire progressive movement is hurt by capitulation to people like Lieberman.  On all the core issues, from freedom of religion to the role of the US in the world, Joe Lieberman is closer to President Bush's opinion than to mine.  I find Chris Shays' politics palatable in comparison.  
by RickD 2006-01-19 08:19AM | 0 recs
My two cents
I'm for...wait for still there?  Good.  Because I'm telling you who I support rigt now: One Joseph Lieberman.
by kydem 2006-01-19 08:06AM | 0 recs
Who controls our blogs?
Right wing or left wing?

Right wing adores Leiberman - who made inexcusible attacks on  his colleagues FOX NEWS no less.

So now, we're getting "Leiberman's OK" diaries in the left wing blogs.

On the other hand, there is Hillary.  That's not ok.
She's a woman and all sorts of other evil things.

The Hillary bashing in the blogs is in concert with the right wing
attacks and accusations that the Clinton's "covered up" and "suppressed information: about the Cisneros investigtion (see today's front page NYT - couldn't google it up for you, sorry)

I've just decided that Hillary is my candidate - mainly because
I am smelling too much right wing b.o. in these parts.

by synthia 2006-01-19 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Who controls our blogs?
My take on Hillary v Leiberman.

Lieberman is more dangerous because he actually supports the war in Iraq.  I think he is being sincere in his defense of the war.  And in my book, that makes him a real bad guy.

Hillary has less integrity because she says she supports the war, using this as cover against criticism for being too weak and liberal when she runs for president.  But as president, she never would have ordered the invasion.  I can not imagine that a woman with her liberal credentials would actually support neo-conservative military policy.  

So, who is worse?

by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 09:32AM | 0 recs
How you get respect
The only real way for bloggers to get respect from the DNC types is by beating them in a primary. If we just help defeat a Republican, they'll take all the credit themselves and forget about us entirely. Sad but true.

The party as a whole is weakened terribly by people like Lieberman, but that DNC apparatchiks don't care about that because they get paid no matter what. Lieberman makes it more difficult for the Democrats to formulate a strong contrasting message, and for that reason alone should be beaten.

by John Emerson 2006-01-19 08:14AM | 0 recs
He left Connecticut a long time ago. Stories of his Dad's liquor store will ring hollow if he has to trot them out on a daily basis to prove his "working class" roots.

A primary is a no-brainer from a progressive standpoint. There is no way that competition pushes him anywhere but to the left. If he stays with his current positions, especially on the war, his relationship with the White House, and his near total absence from the state, and primary day suppresses turnout (mid-August), he could lose.

Since he would have to organize petitions prior to the primary for an independent bid (in the event of a loss), he might be viewed as unsure by the voters in the state that don't really focus too much.

Lamont will get his 15% at the state convention -possibly from lower Fairfield county alone, so if he runs, there will be a primary. If Joe chooses the approach he took in his last two races by not campaigning, or campaigning in the abstract, he will not bring out his old constituencies and risk looking shrill. This was just about the exact formulation that Joe used to beat Lowell Weicker 18 years ago, except from the other direction

by Mad275 2006-01-19 08:17AM | 0 recs
Interesting discussion
I am not sure how to address the diary.  Of course, Lieberman should be challenged, if only because there are enough CT Democrats who want to support a senate candidate that better represents them.

The question is, can the liberal blogs justify supporting a challenge to this established Democrat.  To choose a side, one way or the other, carries risks.  What you fear, I think, is that the blogosphere will look irrelevant and be easily dismissed if it comes out against Lieberman and he wins.  

The corollary, of course, is how will the blogs look if they all sit out, or advocate for Lieberman, while a great primary battle is waged and Lamont wins?

I have posted many comments supporting a primary challenge, and all the posters here are making great comments that justify supporting Lamont.  But I am not sure I am comfortable answering your question in the broad sense.  I see the blog world as organic, not hierarchical, and in that sense, the blogs dont really need to choose a side.  

by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting discussion
The other alternative, and the far worse one, is that we in the hetrrots stay out of the business of promoting candidtaes at all.

If that is the strategy we pursue, then we guarantee our irrelevance in perpetuity.  We would be a self-contained echo chamber, and be rightly dismissed by the party and by the establishemt media as virtually irrlevant.

No, there's no way out.  We have to fight, or die.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-19 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting discussion
All of us individually should become engaged however we want.  But the blogosphere, or even MyDD is not a monolith.  There will always be members (I hope) who have different points of view.  So if the majority of us work for and raise money for Lamont, then that's a great thing as far as I am concerned.  And using the Blogs as a forum to coordinate and share ideas is fufilling the internet's potential.  But, as much as I hate Lieberman, I dont think that MyDD should become an official anti-Lieberman webpage.  This is not what Matt intends, I think, but it is the sense I got from reading the post.  

I am not a big blogger, so I just may be out of sync with a lot of the discussion.  

by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting discussion
MyDD would not ever become an official anti-Lieberman web page, even if all its front page diarists were opposed to Lieberman.

This is the difference between the left wing blogosphere and the right wing blogosphere.  

We build communities that can be cacophonous and participatory and, with few exceptions (redstate), the right wing builds ego platforms for one-way propagandists, or roach motels which censor comments (free republic).

There is a difference between the majority opinion of lefty blogtopia and some top-down imposition of thinking points.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-19 11:51AM | 0 recs
We're taking on the machine
This is my immediate, gut reaction. We're taking on the Democratic machine, not just Lieberman. If we don't break (into) the machine then we will never have a voice in half of the party. We could choose any state with a strong machine; Connecticut and Lieberman are just a (potentially) easy target during this round of elections.

Why is Lieberman such an easy target? Because he's a friend of Bush. Because he has supported Bush almost every step of the way. Particularly on Iraq. Democrats hate Bush and they're mad about Iraq.

Sorry if this sounds so obvious; seems like we're losing focus of the basics.

by nstrauss 2006-01-19 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
Kowalski has Carper, about 59.  Clinton, 58.  Conrad, 57.  Dasyton, 58. (The numbers don't jibe with 4 Dems under 60, but close enough) Your average age doesn't make sense unless there are only four Dems over 61.5. Are they all 61 or 62 years old?

Anyhow, that means Barack Obama is the only Democratic Senator less than 57 years old. By 2008 Obama and whoever the new Senators are will be the only Democratic Senators under 60.

That's pathetic. No wonder their all so stodgy and paranoid about video games. They're probably too old to have played Pacman.

by Gary Boatwright 2006-01-19 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
That's 19 Dems under 60 and 24 over 60. How does that average out to 61.5 and where the hell are you finding their age? You deserve the 2006 MyDD Tedium Award for this one dude.
by Gary Boatwright 2006-01-19 10:41AM | 0 recs
You write,
Labor may line up against us.

According to progressivepunch, Lieberman has a very poor labor voting record - 54%, compared with Chris Dodd's 95%.

Someone I know from DFA who is very active in CT (and whose wife ran for state house in 2004), posted yesterday on a DFA mailing list and wrote,
The unions are pretty strong here in Connecticut and it appears that there is a lot of union support for a challenge to Lieberman.  I think that is part of what makes Lamont's challenge look particularly powerful.

It sounds like Labor is more likely to line up with us than against us in such a challenge.

by cos 2006-01-19 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Labor
Will DFA mobilize for Lamont?
by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 07:08PM | 0 recs
I don't know, but I do know there's a lot of interest and enthusiasm for challenging Lieberman, on the national DFA mailing lists.  DFA seems to take its cues on candidate endorsements from the local groups.  Aldon Hynes, a top DFA leader in CT, seems to be getting actively involved in the opposing Lieberman.  Based on what I've seen, I think it fairly likely that the DFA groups in CT will campaign for Lamont (or Weicker, if Lamont doesn't run), will get a lot of moral support from DFA groups in other states, and that will put strong pressure on DFA national to jump in.  So, it's possible that they will.  But I wouldn't consider it definite.
by cos 2006-01-19 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
It's not about age. Lautenberg kicks ass and he is 82. It's about tenure and complacency.
by Mister Go 2006-01-19 11:28AM | 0 recs
Why Joe should be challenged
For this travesty:
"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."
What an enabling putz.
by Michael Bersin 2006-01-19 01:04PM | 0 recs
At the risk of having another post deleted...
... I'll quote something from my blog on the subject:

What is lost on Stoller is that both mainstream and Liberal Dems SHOULD pause to question someone who is not only hawkish in his party, but in the opposition party as well. They should think twice before granting automatic incumbency on someone who is clearly off the Party planks. That's why we have parties, for Christ's sake.

But MyDD isn't concerned with politics. Rather -- and this fact is repeated time and again in his post -- they are obsessed with how bloggers will look. Feel free to slap your forehead; I'll wait.


This is the age-old trap that Liberals fall into, and why Democratic Congress supported the Iraq war that blogs like MyDD now so vociferously oppose: worrying more about how you look than actual principles. And always, always, the defense for such lame thinking is fortified by a host of arguments like, "if we don't, we lose this support, and lose that group, and then it hurts our ability to do anything."

The "hold your nose and just do it" meme. It's why the political shift is always rightward, and will always be rightward. And Stoller is helping that along.

And always, always, it ends up a train wreck, where Liberals have to become hypocrites later and renounce the position they knew in their hearts was wrong to begin with. What if Lieberman switches parties after the election? Or even just continues to oppose simple party planks? How long will it be before MyDD has to twist their previous words into a "yeah, I knew he was bad all along" speech, a la Hillary Clinton and the war?

Hey, here's a novel idea for Democrats and Liberals, including their blogging shadows: do the right thing and fuck the consequences. You'll sleep better.

Read the whole post here:

Spittle & Ink

by Mark Spittle 2006-01-19 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
Let's not forget that McCain's mental state is already fragile and he is subject to irrational mental states and fits of temper from being brainwashed by the Viet Cong. Just ask Jeff Gannon. He was undercover as a Viet Cong sympathizer in the very camp where they brainwashed McCain.
by Gary Boatwright 2006-01-19 03:04PM | 0 recs
because he puts his self interest first
In 2000, Leiberman ran simultaneously for Vice President and re-election to the Senate. If he had actually become Vice President, his Senate seat would have been vacant, and his replacement would have been appointed by our then Governor, Republican scumbag John Rowland. Instead of doing the right thing and stepping aside so another Democrat could run for the Senate seat, he decided to hedge his bets and take care of himself. By doing so he put at risk a Senate seat that could have tipped the balance of power in that chamber to the Republicans. As it turned out, it would have given given the Republicans a majority that Jeffords defection could not have affected.

His potential primary opponent hasn't even declared yet and Lieberman has already said he will run as an independent in the general election if he loses in the primary. The Republicans couldn't win a two way race for this seat against any Democrat with a pulse, but they might very well win a three way race.

Lieberman puts himself above the interests of the people he is supposed to represent. He gets called a traitor a lot because he really is.

He may have cast a token vote against the bankruptcy bill, but only after he made sure that it would pass by voting for cloture when it could have been filibustered.

He forgets that it is the Presidents lack of credibility that puts us in peril, not the criticism of those brave enough to point out his lies.

After suffering through 18 years of this guy as my Senator I've had enough. I will do everything I can to help defeat him. His support comes more from Republicans than Democrats, we might very well be able to take him out in the democratic primary. Everyone I know hates his guts, and we're a lot more likely to vote in an August primary than most of his supporters. We've done this kind of thing before. In the 1994 primary for the Governors race, Bill Curry beat party endorsed John Larson. In our 1992 Presidential primary Jerry Brown beat Bill Clinton. It can be done.

This is Connecticut. We just passed a campaign finance reform bill. We're the first state to have civil unions without being forced to by the courts. It can be done.

I'd rather stand and fight and lose than surrender without firing a shot. I'm tired of defeatists so worried about losing that they don't even try to win.


by cleefo 2006-01-19 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: because he puts his self interest first
Well Said!
by Winston Smith 2006-01-19 07:04PM | 0 recs
This is how politics works
One supports politicians in order to get one's preferred policies and principles represented. Lieberman supports imperial war and restriction of liberty. Primary the hell out of him!

If the Democrats as a party support these undemocratic principles, they go with Lieberman. If they don't, some go with a challenger.

Do I sound like a wacko? Sure. But in 1968, LBJ decided not to run for reelection because the country was up in arms about his war (and from the right, about equal rights for African Americans.) This found expression, muted expression but real expression, in primary challenges at lots of levels. Oppostion to Lieberman is simply a symptom that widely held principles (not just marketing spin) are not finding voice in the system.

Kick butt CT!

by janinsanfran 2006-01-20 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Decrepit Party
"I'm not making any conclusions one way or the other, just presenting data."

Bullshit, Lucas.  You are engaging in ageist bigotry, and bigotry is as vile coming from you as it is from Nazi or a Klansman or a Republican.

by Richter 2006-01-20 06:58AM | 0 recs
Not running 'on' something?
Yet, in picking this fight against Lieberman, we're not really running 'on' something.

Nonsense. We're running for peace and international law, and against the Iraq war; for consumers who need credit to get by in modern America, and against predatory lenders and Lieberman's horrible bankruptcy "reform" bill; for fair elections and against letting anyone get away with stealing them; and for corporate accountability, and against Lieberman's kowtowing to the Arthur Andersens in our midst.

It's true that this isn't totally an ideological fight, but there are plenty of ideological reasons to oppose Lieberman. And, be realistic - we aren't talking about replacing him with an anti-choice, anti-labor, or anti-environment candidate!

by Mathwiz 2006-01-20 10:34AM | 0 recs


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