Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning, Russ Feingold was thrown an important question on the issue of the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary. From the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Your colleague Joe Lieberman in Connecticut in a tough primary battle. If Senator Lieberman asks you to come to Connecticut to campaign for him, will you?

SEN. FEINGOLD: I have a lot of admiration for Joe. He's a fine guy. He helped me a great deal in campaign finance reform. I think Ned Lamont's positions on the issues are much closer to mine on the critical issues. I think that this is going to be something decided by the people of Connecticut. I'm not going to go up there, but I'll tell you this, Tim. I will support the Democratic nominee, whoever that is.

MR. RUSSERT: So if Lamont beats Lieberman, you're for Lamont.

SEN. FEINGOLD: That's correct.

MR. RUSSERT: And you will not campaign for Lieberman if they ask you?

SEN. FEINGOLD: I'm not getting involved in the primary. If Joe Lieberman wins the primary, I campaign for him. If Ned Lamont wins the primary, I campaign for him. I'll be supporting the Democrat. [emphasis added]

Simply put, Russ Feingold hit the ball out of the park with his answer to this question.

I can understand the reluctance of Senate Democrats -- many of whom have served alongside Joe Lieberman for close to two decades -- to openly state a willingness to oppose him. For many, this would be a betrayal of the worst kind.

But what some of these Democratic Senators do not understand that the first step in the betrayal would be for Senator Lieberman to begin collecting signatures to appear on the ballot as an independent -- a step he has not yet undertaken, but one which is by no means out of the realm of possibility.

I can also understand Senate Democrats' concern that the defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary would send certain signals to the American people. After all, the establishment press would certainly report a Lieberman loss in the primary as an indication that the Democrats are weak-kneed on national security, right? And what could be worse than that?

But this point of view mistakenly overlooks the inherent purpose of elections, and primary elections, in particular. What does the Democratic Party stand for if not democracy? What is the purpose of the Democratic Party if not to represent millions of generally like-minded individuals?

Senator Feingold gets it. This is not about betraying a member of the Senate Democratic caucus or about sending the right or wrong signal to the Beltway press. This is about democracy in action. This is about allowing Democratic voters, and not the party bosses, decide the fate of the party. And no matter how the Democratic electorate in Connecticut votes in August -- whether it is to renominate Joe Lieberman for a fourth time or to give Ned Lamont the opportunity to run in the general election -- Democrats should, just like Russ Feingold, pledge to support the Democratic nominee.

Tags: Connecticut, CT-Sen, Joe Lieberman, MTP, Ned Lamont, Russ Feingold, Senate 2006 (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

I can also understand Senate Democrats' concern that the defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary would send certain signals to the American people. After all, the establishment press would certainly report a Lieberman loss in the primary as an indication that the Democrats are weak-kneed on national security, right? And what could be worse than that?

  I'm trying to wrap my mind around this theory, and I still can't see how this particular spin could logically follow from a Lieberman defeat in August. Of course, the media could try, but if a MAJORITY of Democrats in Connecticut reject an entrenched incumbent, the message it sends is that the national Democratic Party is grossly out of touch with its voter base on Iraq (and other issues). Which it is.

  It's time for the establishment Dems to counteract the idea that indiscriminately invading foreign countries = being strong on security. What are they waiting for? Are they really that blind?

  That said, I fully agree that Russ Feingold hit EXACTLY the right note here. Why is this so hard for the Schumers of the world?

 

by Master Jack 2006-06-25 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

time for the establishment Dems to counteract the idea that indiscriminately invading foreign countries = being strong on security.

This only works if we are in favor of invading foreign countries when it is necessary.  And it seems like Democratic leaders (except Howard Dean) are afraid make it a point that they did support invading Afghanistan but opposed invading Iraq.  

Plenty of voters still doubt that Democrats are willing to go to war when it is really necessary.

Of course, there are certain structural problem with any approach since so many of our supposed leaders did vote to go to war in Iraq, so anything they say about their new, enlightened position is so much political tactics.  This will be the ongoing fallout over the awful choice of Kerry for our presidential nominee in 2004 and we will pay it until 2008 at least.

Remeber many of our leaders opposed liberating Kuwait in 1991 (including, bizarrely, Kerry).  Then they favored invadling Iraq in 2003.  Why should anyone believe that anything Democrats say about national security can be taken seriously?  Bush and Fix News were dead right when they criticised us for being "for it before [we were] against it" in 2004.  And I don't know what we could do to make it better now.

In 2003-4 we had Bob Graham and Howard Dean and Wes Clark declaring that the Taliban were giving aid and comfort to terrorists that attacked us and we needed to wipe them out.  They were willing to chase terrorists wherever we had to but was able to read the publicly available reports that showed they weren't building WMDs in Iraq.  Apparently Kerry and Edwards and Hillary couldn't be bothered to discover that.  Lieberman knew but didn't care — he likes any war in the Middle East.

But it's Kerry and Edwards and Hillary that we pick to be leaders of the party so that's what we stand for.  Voters see that and they don't believe in us.  

Voters aren't stupid, not even Republican voters.  They look at what our leaders do and they don't believe that they really supported the war in Iraq.  Only the delusional believe that Mr. Vietnam Verterans Against The War or Hillary kept-my-own-last-name-in-the-60s really wanted to go to war in Iraq.  What they learned about our party leaders is that they will say or do anything to pretend to be tough.  Also that they don't have any real concept of what toughness would be or else they wouldn't be faking it so badly.

Not just faking being tough by pretending to be in favor of the Iraq war, but faking it badly proves they don't understand how to stand up to evil.

Defeating Joe Lieberman would be a good first step for us to prove some Democrats are strong on national security.

by ChetEdModerate 2006-06-25 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

It may be premature to predict Lieberman's defeat. According to a recent Hartford Currant poll, he holds onto a lead, though the race is tightening. New Englanders are people of steady habits. They know Joe.

That said, interest among Democratic partisns in the Congressional campaigns is on the increase. That includes writing checks. I saw this on BigBark(.net) today:

The DCCC ended May with more available cash than the NRCC: $24.5 million to $22 million. That marked the first time this election cycle that the DCCC had more left to spend than the NRCC.  

by mgboz 2006-06-25 11:20AM | 0 recs
Clarification

The poll you're referring to was by Quinnipiac, not by the Hartford Courant.

June 8, 2006 - Lamont Gains On Lieberman Among Connecticut Dems, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Rell Rules In Governor's Race

Anti-war Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont has gained ground on Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and now trails the incumbent 55 - 40 percent among likely Democratic primary voters, including undecided voters who are leaning towards a candidate, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Among all Democrats, Sen. Lieberman leads 57 - 32 percent, compared to 65 - 19 percent in a May 2 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x11359.xml

And if that sounds acceptable to you consider that among all Democrats Lieberman's approval rate is now in negative territory:

Survey USA

by Scarce 2006-06-25 11:47AM | 0 recs
Props to Connecticut bloggers

I think some serious props are in order for the Connecticut bloggers who have been getting as many people as possible on record as to whether they will support the nominee. CT Blog has been keeping the list of who will support the nominee:

Dan Malloy: Democratic nominee, Governor

John DeStefano: Democratic candidate, Governor

Nancy DiNardo: Democratic State Party Chairman

Susan Bysiewicz: Secretary of State

Joe Courtney: 2nd District Congrssional nominee

Chris Murphy: 5th District Congressional nominee

Michael Cardin: State Rep. (53rd Dist.)

John C. Geragosian: State Rep. (25th Dist.)

Pat Dillon: State Rep. (92nd Dist.)

Dave Mooney: Democratic candidate (120 Dist.)

Derek Donnelly: Democratic candidate (61 Dist.)

Kim Fawcett: Democratic candidate (133 Dist.)

Lex Paulson: Democratic candidate (142 Dist.)

Feingold is in good company.

by Bob Brigham 2006-06-25 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Props to Connecticut bloggers

He sure is-- although looking at your list, Diane Farrell's absence sticks out like a sore thumb. Does  she think no one will notice?

It's a shame the Democratic senate whip doesn't seem to have a concept of party discipline. Maybe he needs to step down from the leadership and concentrate on representing the people of Illinois. Schumer is even worse.

by DownWithTyranny 2006-06-25 04:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Props to Connecticut bloggers

Durbin and Obama should step down.

by illinois062006 2006-06-25 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Yes, but, unfortunately, the only take-away quote afterward was Feingold's criticism of the Democratic Party for not having a coherent position on Iraq.  Isn't that why we're all over Lieberman?

by rayspace 2006-06-25 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Feingold is, once again, exactly right.  All elected Senate Democrats must support the Democratic nominee after the Connecticut primary.  Sometimes the obvious is just too difficult to state.  But what are the implications of Feingold's statement?  Perhaps we should pressure our elected representatives to articulate a similar position.  For example, one of my Senators, Barack Obama, has campaigned on behalf of Lieberman.  Although Obama has a habit of intervening in primaries, I ask if he will support Lamont if Lamont wins the primary.  And we should ask all of our Senate Democrats if they share Feingold's stance.  For if they do not, then we should inform them that they are (once again, in the case of Obama) misrepresenting their constituents.  After all, Democrats expect other Democrats to support Democratic candidates for elected office.  

by illinois062006 2006-06-25 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

I'm running for the Assembly here in Wisconsin. I have a primary. I'm a Progressive and a past, current and (hopefully) future Feingold volunteer. His staff has made it abundantly clear they do not want any hint of favoritism or endorsement until after the primary. His stance today is simply an extension of his belief about running clean elections, something I wholeheartedly support, although I would love to get a nod from him, but I understand he will support whoever wins my primary. As so many others have already said, this is what the Party must also do.

by Noonan 2006-06-25 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

And this is what I ask all elected Democrats in Congress to do: to wait for the Democrats of Connecticut to nominate either Lamont or Lieberman.  Endorsing either at this point is unfair, even if Lieberman is one of their colleagues.  I thank Feingold for his ethical stance, and I hope other elected Democrats will follow his example.

by illinois062006 2006-06-25 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Too bad the same can't be said for my senator! On "This Week" Dick Durbin refused to say that he would support Lamont(D) over Lieberman(I). I sent off a nasty (but polite) email, telling him that, as a leader of the Democratic party, he was expected to support the candidate that Connecticut Dems elected. Too many of these guys think they are members of a gentlemen's club instead of elected representatives of the PEOPLE, we unwashed, uneducated, and unimportant constituents. It makes the lip curl and the stomach hurl!

by mombear 2006-06-25 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Maybe I could support him four hours after dinner, maybe. Don't wait for me to jump up and down and cheer or anything.

by blues 2006-06-25 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Some Party chairman (forgot the name, it wasn't Dean) said it best when he said if the Party doesn't support the voter's choice, it would send every future Democratic Party primary into chaos nationwide. What was that Chuck Shummer thinking, anyway?

by William Domingo 2006-06-25 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Thanks to Sen. Feingold for having the courage to take a stand and stand for the DEMOCRAT that the people choose.  Too bad the MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS haven't the moral fortitude to follow in Feingold's footsteps....they are all chickens.  It is about time they all got out of the beltway and listened to their people...it might WAKE THEM UP!!  There are only a few real Democrats now in Congress and if they continue on their present road, they will be out on their arses before long!!  The American public needs to stand up to their congressmen and senators and tell them to stop and listen to their people...or else.  

Keep up the good work Russ Feingold...you are the best!

by momaloney 2006-06-25 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Props to Connecticut bloggers

Actually, yes.

by illinois062006 2006-06-25 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Look, I've played at this handicapping game a while and I don't see the discussion on the blogs going very many levels deep on the implications of knifing Liberman and booting all Democratic supporters of the war in Iraq out of the party.
The polls are interesting, the flip on negative rating amoung Dems very dramatic but the speard of dates makes it hard to quickly correlate the flip with the negative cartoon ad: correct to assume so? Has he fired his political advisor or ad manager, or both, yet?
The other poll showing Lamont gaining is interesting in that it shows a 10% swing amoung registered v. likely Dem voters. Inspired party activists and bloggers have turned on Lieberman and done a good job in creating an issue out of endorsements. Seems a bit like Raging Against the Machine and Enforcer of the Law as a Transformer toy, though.
But do endorsements even control voters? Any links on articles delving into what Lieberman supporters, both Dem and Rep, think of the abandonment of a sitting Senator by his own party?
How many pissed of Dems of the 46% that have a positve view, even after the negative add blow-out, How many of the substantial number of Reps that have voted for him over several elections are likely to support Lamont, if Lieberman loses and just goes home. Lamont a lock?  Not even for the primary, but I sure would appreciate something deeper to contemplate on this critical Dem party issue than just darts. Reps might just swope in and steal what was a safe Dem seat. Uninteded consequesnces are just that, and
In my view, the Dems are getting set up for a 2008  heartache - if Democrats make the key issue How many troops are in Iraq, and in 2 years Bush and the Iraq Gov't/Army meet their timeline and have the numbers down to 15 or 20,000, the Dems will be made to look the fools, and all of the other real campaign issue advantages will have been wasted. Look's like today's announcement set's the stage. Might as well have Kerry the candidate again, with Gore as VP. Who cares about national polls that say 45% of voters already who say they would never vote for either of them, if you KNOW you're right?
Do you really want all Dems who support the war out of the party? Can you recognize that if 46% of the Still have a positive view of Lieberman, Lamont is indeed splitting the party over a single issue and the general election numbers might not be so rosy?
I'd be very interested if anybody has really thought this through and done some back-up research more than just the hypothetical pairing, or is revenge reason enough? Why not demand all of the Congressmen and Senators who voted for the war take the Kerry "I made a mistake pledge' or leave the party?
I'm sorry, I didn't sign up to be a member of the  Socialist Workers Party (ANSWER). I suspect that it is a poor bet that the American will become radicalized enough to embrace Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink demostrating at Walter Reed - seems a poor stategic bet for which the current party "leadership" does not see the potential damage.

Btw. How does saying 'Lamont's positions agree more with mine' anything close to staying out of the race. That and parroting the "endorsement" campaign attack line is in clear light a smarmy endorsement nonetheless...you just don't see it because you agree with it.

I'm out for now, I'll check back for insights.

by Sashland 2006-06-26 12:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Joe's support for the war may be the main issue that is causing him trouble but surely it isn't the sole reason? I suspect it is more his determination to support the president during a time of war, and his willingness to go on national tv to criticize the democratic party, not just once or twice but practically every week, that is causing him trouble.

My own personal view is that it is worthwhile backing Lamont in this instance so that we can see what transpires. There are many different scenarios and it is difficult to know how it will play out.

For instance Joe might win the primary, retain his seat in the senate but become a more loyal democrat; to me that would count as a win.

Joe might lose the primary but get himself on the ballot and win as an independent, moving somewhat towards the republican side in terms of his voting record without ever becoming an official republican; this would count as a heavy defeat or nightmare scenario - but could well occur.

Then there's a victory for Ned; that's a win.

And perhaps the single most unlikely scenario at things stand is a Republican win; oh dear!

So let's see what happens. It's always difficult to tell whether supporters of the losing primary candidate will be willing to back the chosen candidate on election day. If in this instance they aren't willing, the republicans could just snatch the seat.

by kundalini 2006-06-26 08:26AM | 0 recs
We aren't annoyed at Lieberman JUST...

...because of his Iraq war support.  Even if we were, he's way out there.  The line needs to be somewhere between him and Hillary Clinton, who is also in the "pro-war" camp, but isn't in the "pro-Bush" camp like Lieberman.

by Geotpf 2006-06-26 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Feingold Gets it Right on Lieberman

Outstanding.  Finally, a Democrat who gets it.  We need Democrats that more like Feingold.  Humble, intelligent.  Willing to speak out.  Willing to take the heat but to stand up for what we believe in.  What about Dick Durbin?  Didn't he fail to comment on the same line of questioning?  

Don't worry about Obama.  He is in his overly cautious mode.  I think that he will do the "right" thing when the time comes.

Where's the Outrage?

by ecthompson 2006-06-26 04:49AM | 0 recs

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