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Sunday, July 30, 2006

 
Who's Putting The Party First?

by digby


Jonathan Alter's irrational fear of hippies leads him to write this:

...the Senate needs collegial moderates who work across party lines. It's the only way to stop the really bad stuff. And the revival of the romance of the antiwar left is a potential disaster for the Democrats. That's what gave the world Richard Nixon in 1968, when ideologically pure liberals who had backed Eugene McCarthy in the primaries refused to rally around Hubert Humphrey because Humphrey was "complicit" in the Vietnam War machine.


Apparently, challenging someone in Senate primary is comparable to people sitting out an election as a protest. I'm not sure why that is. If there is a move afoot to sit out the election, I haven't seen any sign of it. But hey, it's always 1968 in the DC establishment's mind so let's get groovy and smoke a doobie.

And I'd love to know what "really bad stuff" has been stopped by Joe Lieberman lately. The last I heard he was signing on to illegal domestic spying and indefinite prison sentences at Gitmo. He didn't think Abu Ghraib was such a big deal and certainly didn't lead the fight against torture. I haven't heard a word from him about signing statements or what to do about the black hole money pit that is Iraq. If that's the result of compromise, what in the hell were the Republicans originally trying to do --- institute capital punishment for eating falafels?

Clinton managed to forge a pragmatic center for Democrats, which is why he didn't hesitate to campaign last week for Lieberman. Clinton's strong support may well pull the man who once called his behavior "disgraceful" over the finish line. It's also a warm-up for selling his pro-war wife to skeptical liberals.


A lot of thanks Clinton got for his pragmatic centrism, too. He came within a hairsbreadth of being driven from office (with the help of his friend Joe)and when the Republicans took over they took the pragmatic surplus he created, handed it out to their rich friends and then proceeded to govern from as far right as they could possibly get with no thought to "collegial" moderation.

Grover Norquist said it and he meant it: they Republicans consider bi-partisanship date rape --- and it ain't the Democrats who are slipping the roofies in the kool-aid.

At some point in the last five years it should have occurred to Joe, who had no wingnut constituents to whom he needed to pander, that he was being used like a blow-up doll at a frat party.

The bloggers who have noisily intervened deny they're interested in ideological purity. They point to their support in Senate races for pro-life candidates. But on Iraq, the liberal blogs brook no dissent.


The Iraq war is not a tiny little policy difference. It has endangered our economic health and our national security. It's a matter of life and death. Is there anything these Washington insiders believe is worth fighting for? If "brooking no dissent" means that I think the Democratic party should stand with the large majority of Americans who want us out of Iraq, then I guess I'm guilty. On the war, there really should be NO controversy within the party, and there really isn't except among DC insiders whose irrational fear of hippies has them paralyzed on the greatest issues of our time.

Not that it matters in Connecticut. If Lamont wins, only the laziest analysts can attribute it to the Netroots. Daily Kos is not exactly Topic A in the diners and union halls of the Nutmeg State.

But if the blogs aren't a force on the ground, they are becoming a powerful factor in directing the passions (and pocketbooks) of far-flung Democratic activists. They're helping fuel a collective version of what shrinks call "projection," where the anger of Democrats at Bush is projected on a handy target, in this case Lieberman. But in doing so, they have neglected what FDR called "the putting of first things first." Job one for Democrats is identifying which Republican House incumbents are vulnerable in their own states and directing all available energy against them. Savaging fellow Democrats (except those who cannot win) should come after taking control, not before.


Bloggers are doing just what Alter says they should be doing, championing candidates across the country, liberal centrist and conservative, to beat Republicans. Clearly, he isn't following the netroots very closely. There is one primary going on in Connecticut featuring one Democratic incumbent whose challenger is being championed by bloggers. The intention was that this challenge would be over on August 8th at which point everyone would gather around the winner and on to victory in November.

Except there's now a little wrinkle. Joe Lieberman is apparently determined to run as an independent and put the safe Democratic seat at risk. I don't know why the bloggers or Lamont are being admonished for failing to put the party first, when all they did was stage a primary challenge, a very basic act of democracy.

Perhaps Alter should have a chat with Joe and his people about "putting first things first" eh?


The challenge facing voters this year is not to hold Democrats accountable for their heresies but Republicans accountable for where they have taken the country. They are the ones in power, not Joe Lieberman.


There's only one Democrat being held accountable for his "heresies" and that's Joe Lieberman. And that's because this election is a referendum on George W. Bush and Republican rule. Unlike many Republican politicians, Lieberman refused to distance himself from Bush and the Republicans when presented with a challenger. And like other Republicans who refuse to admit the error of their ways, he stands to lose this election because of it. When a "throw the bums out" election comes along, it's only smart to try not to be lumped in with them.

This isn't about a 60's style liberal "anti-war movement," which was a massive youth movement built around the draft coupled with huge social and cultural upheaval. This is just people trying to elect representatives to national office who represent their views. Despite all this blather about "congenial bipartisanship" the Republican Party went so far right they went off the cliff --- people are doing the predictable (and responsible) thing and pushing back. Many of them care passionately about their country and are frightened of the direction in which it's going. They are trying to do something about it. Is that really so scary?

This is just plain old politics, nothing unusual about it except we organize and talk over the internets. America hasn't heard much from liberals in a while but we've been out here the whole time --- and our policies have remained popular in spite of all the vilification we've endured because of the pathological fear of hippies that permeates the Democratic establishment.

Roll up a fattie, put on some Buffallo Springield and kick back, boys. It really isn't the end of the world if Democrats feel some passion about their politics. Human beings need some of that to be motivated. And so do political parties.



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