The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Joe and the Dems -- Part II

This morning, the Sunday news shows spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the Joe Lieberman - Ned Lamont primary race for the Senate in Connecticut. At the core of the discussion was the fact that the incumbent, Senator Lieberman, is currently 10 percentage points down in the polls.

Back in January of this year, I posted the following commentary:

Joe Lieberman, the US Senator from Connecticut, lives in Westville, a beautiful tree lined neighborhood just north of the center of New Haven. For a time, I lived not more than ½ mile from his house, and although we never met, I’ve been a long time admirer of his intelligence and character, his moderate political positions, and his forthright and honest manner in communicating with his constituency. He is, in my opinion, a good model to emulate if Democrats are serious about ever winning another presidential election.

It is troubling, therefore, to note that Lieberman is under attack not from Republicans, but from the angry Left wing of the Democratic party, who hope to see him defeated in his re-election campaign.

In a recent article in The New Republic Online, Peter Beinart discusses this situation:

Why are MoveOn, Daily Kos, and so many other liberal activists so keen to find a primary challenger against Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman? . . .

... For Kos and the other Lieberman-haters, liberalism means confrontation, at least in the Bush era. In their view, politics should be guided by the spirit of war. If you don't want to crush conservatives, you are not a liberal.

So Lieberman-hatred is really all about style, right? Actually, no -- there's one final slice, and it's the most important of all. Behind Lieberman's obsession with national unity is his deep conviction that the United States is at war -- not just in Iraq, but around the world. The war on terrorism is his prism for viewing Bush. And it drains away his anger at the president's misdeeds, because they always pale in comparison to those of America's true enemy. When the Abu Ghraib revelations broke, Lieberman said America should apologize, but then added that 'those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, never apologized.' . . .

Yet, if Lieberman's view is one-dimensional, so is that of his critics. If he only sees Bush through the prism of war, they only see the war through the prism of Bush -- which is why they can muster so little anger at America's jihadist enemies and so little enthusiasm when Iraqis risk their lives to vote. Kos and MoveOn have conveniently convinced themselves that the war on terrorism is a mere subset of the struggle against the GOP. Whatever brings Democrats closer to power, ipso facto, makes the United States safer. That would be nice if it were true -- but it's clearly not, because, sometimes, Bush is right, and because, to some degree, our safety depends on his success."

In Joe Lieberman’s situation, we see the travesty that has become American confrontational politics. We see a significant element of the Democratic party that allows their extreme dislike of a Republican President to overwhelm all of their other positions. They criticize mercilessly, but have forgotten that criticism is most effective when constructive alternatives, not meaningless abstractions, are offered. They continuously allege wrongdoing, but never take the time to recognize things that are going well. They lament nominees to the Supreme Court, forgetting that the reason those nominees sat before the Judiciary committee was because the Democrats lost the last Presidential election. That's their real problem ... not a conservative jurist like Samual Alito.

And if they do not recognize these failings and move to correct them, they will lose the next Presidential election as well.

The United States works best when we cycle from Republican to Democrat and back again in the Executive branch. The angry Left is robbing the Democratic party of their ability to complete that cycle. And that's not a good thing for our country.

So here we are, 8 months later, and as predicted, Joe is in jeopardy. I still hope he wins, and he just might, but regardless of the outcome, the portent for the Dems is not good.

The angry Left will now be perceived as the king maker in the democratic party. The party’s leadership, presidential contenders, and platform will pay homage to their power. They will make the Democratic party their own, and in so doing, I believe they will isolate it from the political center in the USA—the demographic that wins elections on a national scale.

The problem for the Dems, if they become the party of the Angry left, is simple: their rabid hatred of George Bush is perceived by many as strident, and in the extreme, anti-American. Their anti-war stance is beginning to sound very much like ‘peace at any cost.’

Over the next decade, the USA will face historic challenges that will require very hard choices. If we make the wrong ones, very bad things may happen. The political center of our country will ask whether the Dems, perceived to be countrolled by extremists, will be willing to make the hard choices that must be made. Will they go to war, recognizing that wars are not bloodless? Will they respond to an attack, even if civilians are put in harm's way? Will they act in the best interests of their own country, even if the world doesn't like us? Will - they - lead?

Right now, those of us in the center are unsure of the answers to these questions -- and like it or not, we do matter -- a lot.

As the angry Left ascends in its influence, the democratic party may very well descend into irrelevance. As I said back in January, “that's not a good thing for our country.”