A funny thing happened when Joe Lieberman's Democratic primary campaign began imploding. Conservative pundits rushed to assist their favorite Democrat.
David Brooks decried the "liberal inquisition" against his "kind-hearted" friend. Dick Morris offered advice on political survival, urging Lieberman to "withdraw from the primary and run as an independent." And Sean Hannity, who already offered his endorsement back in February, took it up another notch, not only championing Lieberman's cause but also attacking bloggers for daring to criticize him.
Democratic Senators don't usually get this much support from conservative pundits. (The last one who comes to mind is Zell Miller, whom Republicans embraced after he turned on John Kerry in 2004.) Of course, being propped up by Morris and Hannity only hurts Lieberman's standing among Connecticut's Democratic primary voters, who have already heard their Senator is too cozy with the Right Wing.
Yet the pundits are not simply praising their favorite Senator, they are deriding his critics, deploring bloggers and ridiculing blog readers -- that means you. Sean Hannity, who has a very close bond with Lieberman, recently did all three.
He began by criticizing a post I wrote on this website about Lieberman's plan to bolt the Democratic Party if he loses the primary. (Here's the audio clip.) I wrote that Lieberman's plan undermined the entire point of holding primaries and disrespected the will of voters, which made Hannity incredulous. "Well can you blame him? He's got every left wing nut group in the world going after him," he thundered, revving up for a long rant about the party being hijacked by extremists. I contacted Hannity's producer and offered to come on the show to debate the issue, but in a week there has been no response. Maybe Hannity is afraid to debate. But he hasn't stopped his monologues against Lieberman and his critics.
On another recent radio show, Hannity gave his audience a news flash about the race in Connecticut: "A lot of this is coming from these extreme left wing websites!" I imagine that the informed people listening to political talk radio have already heard about Internet politics. But Hannity is not simply narrating the netroots' role in the Lieberman race; he is trying to tar the movement. He went on to explain that an "ultra liberal, Left Wing blogger site called Daily Kos" is part of the effort to topple Lieberman. When blogger Mike Stark called in to the show to explain how blogs can advance grassroots democracy and dialogue, Hannity cut him off. "What I like is you're actually having an impact in terms of the pressure that you're putting on Democrats to even be more extreme," Hannity said, showing his audience that he likes trends that supposedly hurt Democrats. And that's why he liked Joe Lieberman in the first place. When Hannity and Morris are on the attack, you know you're doing something right.