CT-SEN - Perspectives from a former Lieberman Guy
by Kombiz Lavasany, Wed Jul 26, 2006 at 07:54:27 AM EDT
Three years ago for a period covering about six months I literally gave blood for Joe Lieberman while working on his presidential campaign (fairly low down on the totem pole). Over the course of the fall of 2003 and the winter of 2004 I hit deer on the roads of Iowa, skidded out into a car accident on the roads of Chicago, drove through Indiana in what for a Californian might as well have been the blizzard of the century and moved every single one of my belongings ten times into new temporary residences. All of this for campaign wages I was happy to receive, but that meant pushing off financial obligations into the future.
I've been part of this community for several years but have kept quiet over the last several months as Ned Lamont has been challenging Lieberman for the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Partly because I think my opinions on the race are close to irrelevant considering Democratic primary voters in Connecticut hold the only opinions that really matter, and partly out a sense of loyalty for those grueling, though rewarding, six months.
I preface this background because unfortunately there has been a somewhat concerted effort by a few prominent Lieberman supporters to undermine the conversations going on in the blogosphere under the badly misguided notion that by painting the bloggers as the modern day emergence of armed-communist revolutionaries, they may save Lieberman from a primary defeat. It's fairly clear that I'm not the wide-eyed communist revolutionary or a Lieberman hater but, like many Democratic primary voters, I'm a progressive voter who enjoys chipping years off his life by fighting for progressive candidates and causes.
A year and a half ago, I would have imagined writing a defense of Joe Lieberman at MYDD, something akin to what Markos wrote during the presidential primaries on the front page of DailyKos, littered with personal analogies and a persuasive case for keeping the guy in the Senate. Unfortunately I find myself, much like Josh Marshall or Mark Schmidt, hoping for a Lamont win on August 8th.
The problem has been documented in several places, but I think the issue most strongly boils down to support for the basic Democratic policies that keep a social safety net in place, (think the Social Security fight and the cloture vote on bankruptcy and Alito.) Since the Social Security fight where several former staffers conferred over email while waiting for Joe to come out against privatization, (Josh Marshall documents that history fairly well, here, here, here, here, here, here ), my own doubts have gotten stronger.
Joe's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed demanding support for the "real progress" in Iraq was especially hypocritical considering the policy papers and statements that the Lieberman campaign was publishing in 2003 questioning the policies put in place in Iraq by the Bush Administration. This is a fairly serious point - Lieberman wasn't questioning going to war during his campaign, but the campaign and Joe were publishing statements with serious criticisms of the Bush Administration's plan in Iraq. We can have a conversation about Iraq without whitewashing the policy blunders and claiming "real progress" when basic facts on the ground dispute the assertion.
Iraq is a serious enough issue by itself, but it's been the recent swift-boat campaign against the blogosphere by GOP alum turned DLC Cheerleader Marshal Whitman and sometimes smart guy Dan Gerstein that have set me off.
Less substantially, Whitman has taken to speaking in general terms about progressive ideals, while at the same reading from the press releases of Liddy Dole, in condemning the progressive blogosphere as the sons of armed communist's revolutionaries on the verge of taking over the Democratic Party and then the government. Needless to say, the strawman falls apart if you've actually participated in the community for several years, and have seen middle-aged bloggers who daylight as fairly benign professionals. Here's a word of advice for Whitman, who was a GOP operative and working against some of the progressive heirs of the party of FDR and Truman during the 80's and 90's (think Bayh, Culver and Wellstone): it helps not to disparage Democratic primary voters when you're trying to appeal to Democratic primary voters.
As for Whitman's fear that Republican's will try to brand Democrats as extreme, the RNC will always call Democrats the heirs of left-wing radical lunatics and a whole host of other names from here to eternity. Democrats shouldn't run or govern out of fear that Republican's will call them names; they should accept the fact that it will happen and stand for something in the process.
As for the inquisition first forwarded by right-wing commentator David Brooks and picked up by others including Dan Gerstein. If this was a purge, it would be one of the worst executed purges of century. Anyone who has reads blogs over the last two years has seen laments that Lieberman has been too cozy to the Bush Administration on Iraq, has voted incorrectly on Alito, or the bankruptcy bill, etc. For almost two years one could read on any progressive blog a yearning that someone should challenge Lieberman in the primary, even as a desperate act. Bloggers jumped at any hint of a challenge. Most everyone I know thought the act itself would be futile, but it turns out that Lamont is a strong candidate, with an appealing narrative and not the one-dimensional anti-war strawman Whitman, et al. expected. Now there's an actual race in the primary. Gerstein also takes a broadside to Sirota for having applied to work for Lieberman during the 2004 campaign. It's a silly insiders game, Dan has info that no one else has and it can be spun to discredit Sirota for a CW slam dunk, it's so Mickey Kaus. How that helps Joe Lieberman in Connecticut is beyond me, but it's a fun game when we can discredit those dirty liberal bloggers.
For the record Sirota is right, Lieberman was an early supporter of the civil rights movement and held a fairly ballsy progressive record in Connecticut on civil rights, and gay rights. There's certainly no shame in working for Joe, but now that there's a full fledged primary in Connecticut and Gerstein and his cohorts should realize that spinning to smear the progressive blogosphere to people who don't know the difference between blogspot.com, and amazon.com doesn't help anyone, Democrats or Lieberman, and should just get on with the task of fighting a primary. The candidates are both real, the people who make the decision are Democratic primary voters in Connecticut and the issues are substantial. Why people like Gerstein and Whitman insist on navel gazing, and creating strawmen out of the political blogosphere instead of getting out the vote is completely beyond me.