I was taking a break from blogging during the week when Ned Lamont edged out Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary for Senator in Connectituct, so I didn’t have a chance to comment at the time. But I’m not convinced it was the “political earthquake” that Lieberman’s opponents in the blogosphere (the so-called netroots) and elsewhere proclaimed.
Consider that the voters in the primary were among the most partisan Democrats in a Democratic-leaning state. Largely because of Lieberman’s support for the Iraq war, Lamont’s campaign portrayed the senator as a virtual clone of George W. Bush. (The “Bush kiss” didn’t help the incumbent.) Lieberman ran a foolish and lackluster campaign, basically ignoring those charges until just before the vote, when he criticized Bush’s unforgivably inept handling of Iraq. And yet Lieberman came within four percentage points of beating Lamont.
Now Lieberman is running against Lamont as an independent in the general election, leading Lamont in a recent poll of likely voters by 12 points (the Republican candidate is of no concern to anyone). So despite all the sound and fury, it appears Lieberman stands a good chance of being reelected in November for another six years.
In spite of efforts by Lamont’s supporters to portray Lieberman as a closet Republican, he has during his three terms in the Senate compiled an overwhelmingly liberal voting record, especially on bread-and-butter domestic issues. Perhaps that explains why, as Thomas R. Edsall reported in The New Republic:
Lamont’s strongest support came from areas with high housing values, voters with college or graduate degrees, and parents with children in private schools. Lieberman’s votes, in contrast, came from the cities, renters, blue-collar and service-sector workers, and those receiving Social Security benefits.
None of this means I’m particularly pleased with Lieberman. I appreciate his opposition to the damn-the-consequences withdrawal other Democrats (like Lamont) have been calling for. But those who supported the war have a special responsibility to raise hell about the administration’s horrendous misjudgments and failures, which have contributed to the terrible sectarian violence engulfing much of Iraq. This is a responsbility that Lieberman has too often shirked.
If Lieberman does win reelection, I hope he takes the responsbility more seriously.
Update: Lieberman has called on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to resign– a little too politely, I think.