He's made it official: Joe Lieberman has declared war on the Democratic Party, and he's done it in a way that's designed to inflict maximum damage. His words today are a frontal assault. Dems like Chuck Schumer who think they can "work with Joe" as an "Independent Democrat" are in for a rude awakening: if Lieberman's re-elected as an independent, he's showing every sign that he'll turn Republican.
And why not? If Lamont wins, Joe will have been repudiated by the Dems. You can rest assured the GOP will dangle some plum committee assignments in front of his face.
Lieberman's already demonstrated he'll kiss a Republican while wearing the Democrats' ring. Why wouldn't he go all the way, especially if the Dems take the ring back?
(You may be asking yourself why I'm so sure: Is it in his face? No, that's just his charm. In his warm embrace? Oh, not, that's just his arms. If you want to know if he loves them so ... )
Actually, the famous besito is the least of the Democrats' concerns. That was just an unexpected moment under the mistletoe. What's far more troubling is Lieberman's ongoing passion for every neoconservative adventure and right-wing talking point he can find, whether it's Iraq, Iran, social security, finance - oh, but that's all old news.
What is new are the words he used today, designed to cause immeasurable harm to the Democrats and feed the GOP's talking points to a thousand pundits. Here's how the New York Times described Lieberman's remarks:
Speaking to reporters at the end of the parade route, Mr. Lieberman decried what he saw as too much hatred in politics.
"Once you start hating, you lose the ability to get anything done," he said.
That's the bizarre yet strangely persistent spin point these days: that Lamont's grassroots-backed campaign reflects "hate," rather than a disagreement on beliefs and policies. Ask yourself: When Hubert Humphrey bravely faced down Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats at the 1948 Democratic Convention, rejecting their segregationist policies, was that "hate"- or a desire to support Democrats whose positions and values reflected his own?
It's absurd, of course: it's the democratic process, not "hate." But pundits and Republicans will be using Lieberman's words, and the "hate" meme - which for all we know was invented at the RNC - to pound the Democrats non-stop between now and November.
Here's another Lieberman gift to the GOP, from the same Times article:
He added later that when he disagreed with his party, it was on the basis of principles.
"I think that saying 'you've got to be with us for everything' is the road to defeat for any political party," he said.
Again, this is rank nonsense. People usually vote based on principles. What Lieberman and his supporters are betraying with these remarks is a hatred for both Democrats and democracy. But, once more, he's providing great material for the Republicans - in this case, that the Democrats 'rigidly' enforce doctrine.
Providing great material for the GOP is not a new habit with Joe. He's been treating his own party and its leadership with undisguised contempt for years. His attacks on Clinton about the Lewinsky matter were easier to take as authentic moral outrage, before he spent five sanguine years co-existing with Republican corruption and prevarication.
And Lieberman signaled his lack of confidence in Al Gore in 2000, by refusing to end his own Senatorial re-election bid when he was nominated for Veep. Commentators noted at the time, rightly, that it was a public gesture of doubt in his own party's ticket.
Through all of this, Chuck Schumer has refused to disavow his words of support for Lieberman, or his comment that he might use money raised by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to fund the campaign of someone running against a Democrat.
I wrote the DSCC press office several days ago asking for their charter and by-laws. Not surprisingly, they haven't responded. But the DSCC mission statement unambiguously says the organization exists to elect more Democratic Senators. Unless he makes a public statement to the contrary, one can only assume that Schumer is considering violating the charter of the organization he heads.
I'll certainly be asking for my money back when that happens.
Meanwhile, Lieberman's words today provided endless rounds of ammunition for the GOP. That kind of sabotage from within isn't likely to go unrewarded. Schumer and the other Democrats who think they can still dance with Joe better figure out what Hillary (yes, that Hillary) already has: You're either in the Party or you're not.
Joe's not. He's made that clear. So here's a question for Schumer et al.: Are you? because if Lieberman wins as an independent in November, and the GOP stills controls the Senate, Joe will turn to the Dark Side faster than Emperor Palpatine.
So a word to Chuck Schumer and his Democratic colleagues: Ifyou don't take a stand for your party now, a lot of Democrats are going to remember election time. You might have to face the "hate" Lieberman's facing now - or, as the rest of the free world prefers to calls it, "democracy."
UPDATE: Raw Story says the following:
"It is likely that the DSCC will back the winner of the Democratic primary in Connecticut," the party official told RAW STORY, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the race.
This is somewhat confusing, since we can't judge this "official's" credibility without knowing who they are. If true, my question would be - why anonymity? Is the notion of the DSCC supporting the Democrat in a race that controversial? Apparently, yes, because of Schumer's recent statements.
It would be the right decision, but it would give Lieberman one less reason to stay a Democrat. And remember: If Joe bolts to the GOP you heard it here first.
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