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The Tentacle


August 9, 2006

Joe Lieberman v. The Lemmings

Kevin E. Dayhoff

By the time you read this, the Connecticut primary will be over and we will know whether or not Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman will be moving on to the General Election in November.

Senator Lieberman, a three-term incumbent is behind going into the election by six points to a political newcomer, Ned Lamont.

Democrat voters in Connecticut are flying dangerously low on a blogger-induced sugar high. They are not necessarily enamored with Mr. Lamont as much as they want to use Senator Lieberman for a national referendum, targeting him as a whipping boy in a terrorist-appeasement-oriented opposition to the war in Iraq.

For an historical perspective; Robert Johnson, writing for the George Mason University's History News Network, noted: "It is very rare for incumbent senators to lose in their party's primary: since 1960, only 19 have so fallen. Five of these were special cases." And an additional four lost as a result of advancing age. "Ideology and changing party politics played a decisive role in the failed re-nomination bids of (only) five senators."

In the case of Senator Lieberman, it is not merely an ideological shift as much as the Democratic Party sliding sideways into the abyss of nihilism.

For those of us who firmly believe that a vibrant and responsible two party system of government is a necessary part of our future, we should be alarmed that the esteemed party of the left is coming apart at the seams and teetering on the edge of a cliff.

To paraphrase the famous line from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", never mind whether or not they can swim, the fall's "gonna kill 'em." Whether or not Senator Lieberman wins the nod for re-election, the precipitous fall to the extreme left will doom the Democratic Party this fall.

Senator Lieberman is a stand-up kind of guy. He's true to his convictions and he has carried the water for the responsible members of the distinguished opposition party on many social and economic issues for not only the State of Connecticut, but for the national party for decades.

As the wheels are coming off the donkey cart, the party wants to discard him like a used tire.

Which brings to mind the famous quote attributed to President Lyndon Baines Johnson: "The difference between cannibals and liberals is that cannibals eat only their enemies."

Some are blaming Senator Lieberman's dilemma on Bush Derangement Syndrome. Hey, if you want to hate President Bush, have at it, it's a free country - so far. After-all, many of us weren't too fond of President Bill Clinton; not that the prevaricating, pot-smoking, misogynist-womanizer did not deserve it.

But while wallowing in our dislike of President Clinton, we did not threaten national security.

Then again, President Clinton was great for the Republican Party as moderate to conservative Democrats left the party in droves. And that is part of the problem. It is beginning to look like the only ones left in the Democratic Party are a few French fries short of a happy meal.

Now, the remaining stand-up responsible folks left in the Democratic Party are being hounded-out of the parade.

Daniel McKivergan, writing on the Weekly Standard's blog, reports that last Thursday's Los Angeles Times poll found "50% of the survey's respondents said the United States should continue to align with Israel, compared with 44% who backed a more neutral posture. But the partisan gap was clear: Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%, while Republicans supported alignment with the Jewish state 64% to 29%."

Mr. McKivergan observed that if Senator Lieberman loses "to the candidate of moveon.org, Republicans should be ready to speak to those pro-Lieberman Democrats who have grown increasingly uncomfortable with their party's leftward drift on national security. The media will portray a Lieberman primary defeat as a rebuke to Bush's Iraq policy. But it will say a lot more about a political party that has purged its strongest voice on security matters and signaled retreat in the war on terror."

Robert Kagan recently wrote in The Washington Post: "Al Gore, the one-time Clinton administration hawk, airbrushed that history from his record. He turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq. And for this astonishing reversal he has been applauded."

Profoundly Mr. Kagan reveals: "Apparently, amazingly, dispiritingly, it all works. At least in the short run, dishonesty pays. Dissembling pays. Forgetting your past writings and statements pays. Condemning those with whom you once agreed pays. Phony self-flagellation followed by self-righteous, self-congratulation pays. The only thing that doesn't pay is honesty. If Joe Lieberman loses, it will not be because he supported the war or even because he still supports it. It will be because he refused to choose one of the many dishonorable paths open to him to salvage his political career" and recant his support on the war against terrorism.

Certainly the problem is not that more folks will switch to the Republican Party. The bigger issue is that the nuisance of a soft-on-defense leftwing party is no longer a fly on the governmental windshield; they are becoming a major visual distraction for the future. This is eroding the confidence of a nation that is already increasingly anxious about national security issues at a time when the global war on terrorism is escalating and the enemy is proving to be well funded and ever more threatening.

No longer is the issue simply about al Qaeda. It is now, more than ever, global. It's North Korean, a nuclear Iran, China, Russia and Hamas. It is about the Israelis fighting for their lives and the United Nations cheering Hezbollah on. It is about France and Germany's spinelessness.

A victory by Ned Lamont will feed the frenzied march to the extreme left - obstructionist at every turn, abandoning one of the few friends we have in the world, the Israelis, in their time of need; soft on national defense and appeasing the terrorists.

If a few lemmings want to run pell-mell over a cliff and into the sea, that's a good thing. But the nuisance of the trickle is gathering in numbers and the danger is that they are eroding our collective will to fight a formidable enemy, and threaten to carry our national security and our way of life with them.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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