I am constantly amazed by how uninformed people are when their job is to inform others. Every press article or editorial I've seen on the Lieberman issue completely misses the point. We are not against Joe Lieberman because we are leftists who require ideological purity. We are against him because he aids and abets an out of control Republican Party.
I have been a centrist all my life and I was a Republican until five years ago. Lieberman doesn't offend my non-existent leftist ideology. So why would a centrist be so angry with a senator who claims to be a centrist and tries to find common ground between the two parties? Because the Republicans today are so far to the right that going over to their side is abandoning centrists in favor of siding with right wing zealots.
He knows. Lieberman knows that these are the same guys who have been unabashedly using 9/11 as a political tool. He knows these are the same guys who linked Iraq and 9/11 when there was absolutely no connection. He knows they campaign against gays, immigrants and anyone else they can focus people's hatred on. He knows they have devolved into a party of misinformation, propaganda, ill-conceived wars and religious zealotry -- and he still loves them.
He doesn't just vote with Republicans, he relishes it. He talks like them, he walks like them, he is them. It's not the Iraq War vote people care about nearly as much as when he said, "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation's peril."
That's going out of your way to support not just their ideology and their war, but to support their demagoguery. It's ugly and it reeks. We get plenty enough of that from Republicans, we don't need any of that from so-called Democrats.
That above quote is symbolic of Joe's whole state of mind. He'll go to any length to support this war and this administration. He didn't get roped in, he wasn't tricked, he was a willing participant.
It's very frustrating to see some Democratic politicians buy into Republican framing of the issues. But Lieberman is different. He isn't just buying Republican talking points, he's selling them.
He shares an ideology, a mind-set and a worldview that sets him apart from the rest of us, the reality-based community. He isn't coerced or intimated by the Republicans like some of the other Democrats. He is part of the apparatus of coercion and intimidation.
He hasn't accidentally scored a goal on his own team -- he meant to. And that is a world of difference.
Then we get to Alito. Here's a man who is going to allow the president to have any executive power he damn well pleases. A man who doesn't believe in our democratic form of government. The public might not know or understand what unitary executive theory is, but Joe does. He knows it means giving the president a blank check to rewrite the laws and to ignore Congress. But Joe blocked the filibuster of Sam Alito anyway.
He gave away the right to filibuster while pretending to save it. If they didn't filibuster Sam Alito, they'll never, ever filibuster anybody. You know it, I know it, there's absolutely no arguing with it. They're not going to appoint Saddam to the Supreme Court. Alito was as radical as it gets in the United States, and Senator Lieberman made damn sure he got through.
Again, I am not even liberal. I agree with nearly all of Alito's conservative rulings from the bench so far. I'm with him on state authority on the death penalty, I'm with him on wider latitude for police searches, I'm with him when he rules against the exclusionary rule. But you cannot have a man who, in the Hamdan case, agreed that the president does not have to consult with Congress when he makes up non-existent laws about tribunals. Or that the president does not have to abide by treaties we have signed that are supposed be the supreme law of the land. These ideas do not abide by American principles. They are grants of dictatorial power.
I would excuse this if it was an average citizen sitting in the middle of the country who just didn't know this was happening. But Joe knows. And he relished in making sure Alito got through despite all this, just to burnish his bullshit centrist credentials. How is it centrist to argue for unlimited and unchecked executive power?
Russ Feingold voted for John Roberts. I had similar concerns about Roberts on executive authority, but he was not nearly as clear as Alito on this issue. Despite my disagreement with that vote, I don't want to "purge" Feingold because of it. Feingold also voted for John Ashcroft, who turned out to be a hideous Attorney General. We are not going to go get Feingold because his voting record isn't pure. When he says he voted on principle, we believe him.
Why? Because the rest of the year he isn't going around walking and talking like a Bush administration stooge. So many senators voted for the Iraq War, but they are allowed to make mistakes without getting written off. Lieberman, on the other hand, doesn't think it was a mistake to this day, and that's what makes him hideous.
Over 2,500 American soldiers have died, over 18,000 injured, over 50,000 Iraqi civilians killed -- when there was no threat and no link to the people who attacked us. That is unjustifiable by any measure. Those are real people and we have their blood on our hands. And to be proud of that is repulsive.
Senator Bob Graham went around to his fellow Democratic Senators before the Iraq War vote, pleading with them to vote against authorization and instead focus on the real terrorist threats because "blood is going to be on your hands." A lot of them didn't listen. But we are still willing to look past all that.
But you can't come in here today and tell me the Iraq War was a good idea. It is not an argument a feeling and rational person can make. It is an argument that only someone who cared more about their blind ideology and personal pride can make. And when you're willing to sign off on other people's death certificates to protect your own pride, I have no patience for you. You're playing with other people's lives.
What is particularly galling to all of us who hate Lieberman isn't just that he votes the wrong way, but that he pretends to represent us while he does it. It is not acceptable.
For the particularly dense, let me drill it home one more time. This is not about being a leftist, or liberal or ideologically pure. During the first Persian Gulf War, I held pro-war rallies. I supported every major war this country has been involved in my lifetime -- Persian Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the list goes on.
I didn't do this because I love war, I did it because I thought those wars were necessary. But when you attack a country that didn't attack you or your allies, or posed any threat to you whatsoever, and you do it in defiance of the world - and you cause a humanitarian crisis rather than alleviate one - it doesn't take a leftist to understand how unacceptable that is.
And then the war goes terribly wrong because you didn't plan for it, and it costs the lives of so many more people, and it brings tremendous instability to the region and it helps Al Qaeda get a foothold where they didn't have one before. And at the end of all that, we have a so-called Democratic Senator say he'd do it again. That isn't left, right or center, that's irrational and inhuman.
Unfortunately, if Lieberman regains his seat, he just might get a chance to do it again, with Iran. It's not just a matter of punishing people for their past mistakes, it's about making sure they don't make new ones that are even worse.
And we haven't even gotten to how Lieberman gives the administration political cover. How his support allows for this extremist administration to pretend they are centrist and bi-partisan. I never want to hear George Bush' say this sentence again, "Senator Lieberman is right."
It is revolting. And that is why we have revolted.