Joe Lieberman, facing a stiff primary challenge from antiwar liberal Ned Lamont in the August 8 Democratic primary — and the stiff procedural hurdle of an August 9 deadline to petition his way onto the ballot as an independent if he loses — will begin his petition drive now, preserving the option of running as “a petitioning Democratic candidate” if Lamont beats him. In his words:
I’ve been a proud, loyal and progressive Democrat since John F. Kennedy inspired my generation of Americans into public service and I will stay a Democrat, whether I am the Democratic party’s nominee or a petitioning Democratic candidate on the November ballot.
Strategically, this is obviously the right move for Lieberman, given that a loss to Lamont in the low-turnout summer primary is entirely possible, whereas a general-election loss in November is far less likely. Polls have indicated that Lieberman would win easily in a three-way race, which is unsurprising, as he is still very popular among mainstream Connecticut voters. But, well, party primaries are not generally dominated by mainstream voters.
Of course, the good senator will get all sorts of grief for the decision, from Lamont — who previously, in a move as clever as it was transparently self-serving, urged Lieberman to sign onto a mutual endorsement pledge — and from other Democrats and liberal activists. For some, it will evoke memories of his simultaneous candidacies for senator and vice president in 2000. Others will fancy themselves clever as they say things like, “Lieberman not even a DINO anymore!”
The necessity of a “fallback” independent candidacy will make it even easier for Howard Dean’s brother and others to charge that Lieberman is not part of the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Which is, of course, crap. Joe Lieberman isn’t just a great senator and a fine man, he’s a good, loyal Democrat, and he’s consistently liberal on most issues. ABC News reports: “The Liberal Americans for Democratic Action gives him a 75 percent rating. NARAL Pro-Choice America rates him as voting on its side 75 percent of the time; the American Civil Liberties Union, 83 percent of the time; the NAACP, 85 percent of the time; the League of Conservation Voters, 70 percent of the time; and the Children’s Defense Fund, 89 percent of the time.” And TNR’s Peter Beinart writes:
Why are MoveOn, Daily Kos, and so many other liberal activists so keen to find a primary challenger against Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman? The more you peel the onion, the stranger the answer becomes.
The common explanation is that Lieberman is a conservative. Or, more specifically, he’s a conservative who represents a liberal state–and, therefore, has no excuse. But, according to conventional indices, Lieberman is not a conservative. His lifetime rating from the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) is 76, six points higher than the man MoveOn and Kos have encouraged to enter the race, former Senator Lowell Weicker. In August 2003 (before turning against Lieberman), Kos himself reviewed Lieberman’s ADA and American Conservative Union ratings and called the charge that he was a closet Republican “b.s.”
So why do so many liberals think Lieberman is a conservative? The obvious answer is his steadfast support for the Iraq war. For many liberals, ADA-style vote tabulations are irrelevant; Iraq is the crucible of our age. There’s a clear historical parallel. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey’s support for Vietnam made him a liberal pariah and Eugene McCarthy’s opposition made him a liberal hero–few cared that, overall, during their years in the Senate, Humphrey had been the greater liberal champion.
This notion that anyone who supported the war is therefore a “DINO” or a “right-wing wacko” is a pathology, plain and simple. It’s an illness that is unfortunately very, very prevalant on the Left right now. Liberals are, for whatever reason, in the mood for a purge. The war is their litmus test — if you have a different opinion, you’re not a real Democrat in their eyes. So much for a “big tent.”
Look, if you want to oppose Lieberman — or to disagree with other Democrats/liberals who favored the war, like for example, me — simply on the basis of the war, because you believe it is “the crucible of our age,” fine, go right ahead. Personally I think it’s dumb to do that, but I can understand how others might disagree if they feel strongly enough about the issue. But for heaven’s sake, be honest about it. Joe Lieberman is not a DINO, he’s not a right-winger, and he’s not disloyal to the party. Far from it. Joe Lieberman is, as I said, an excellent senator, an honorable man, and a good Democrat — who happens to believe (as I do) that the war in Iraq was justified and must be won. Again, if you want to oppose him on that basis alone, go right ahead. But cut the rhetorical crap.
As regular readers know, I believe Joe Lieberman is one of the finest senators in either party, and I also believe as a general matter that it’s a terrible idea for the Democrats to purge loyal party members who are consistently liberal on most issues but who refuse to tow the line on certain individual issues when their conscience forces them to honestly disagree. So, I will support Joe whether he’s an independent, a “petitioning Democrat” or the official Democratic nominee. It makes no difference to me — so long as he pledges to cast his lot with the Democrats when it comes to choosing the majority leader and such (which he has), I have absolutely no qualms about supporting him. On the contrary, I seriously wish I was still living in Connecticut so that I could vote for him!
Speaking of which, I absolutely love this slogan: “Annoy the blogosphere, vote for Joe!“ LOL!
UPDATE: Before I posted this, my dad begin “crafting and drafting” his own post about the issue. But I scooped him, beating him to the “publish” button. In order to avoid confusion and consolidate the inevitable comment-war, I’m moving his post to the “Extended Entry” section of this post. So, herewith follows my dad’s post:
Lieberman to seek independent Nov. ballot spot as hedge against primary loss
Posted by Joe Loy on Monday, July 3, 2006 at 7:17 pm MST
I hope the Blogmister & the Blogmissus :) will forgive me for interrupting the Liveblog Travelogue for this important Breaking News bulletin :> (hat tip, Bob Lutts, CT Republican Savant :) ~
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman announced today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an “independent Democrat,” giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.
He probably knows [? :] that in such hideous event he won’t be actually November Ballotdesignated as “Independent Democrat” because in Connecticut, the Land of Unfettered Free Expression :), that’s Illegal. See subsection (c) subdivision (2). [Also, just for Fun, see subdivision (5 :). I wrote, or rather Re-wrote, a lot of that particular statute btw. No really, I did. Some 20 years ago. ‘No law means No Law.’ ~ Mr Justice Black, on the First Amendment. “So What?” ~ Mr Elections Officer Joe Loy :]
…”I’ve been a proud, loyal and progressive Democrat since John F. Kennedy inspired my generation of Americans into public service and I will stay a Democrat, whether I am the Democratic party’s nominee or a petitioning Democratic candidate on the November ballot,” Lieberman said. He added that he would, even if re-elected as a petitioning candidate, remain a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
…Lieberman will need to gather 7,500 signatures to guarantee a ballot place, an effort likely to begin next week…
The signatures-filing deadline is Aug. 9, the day after the primary. Any CT registered voter may validly sign. / My Guess: Joe will likely Go with with a no-party-name petition, which (if Timely & Sufficiently filed) puts him on the election ballot designated as a “Petitioning Candidate” ~ but BELOW any candidate(s) of any pre-established (iow nonpetitioning, direct-nominating) Minor Parties for ANY office, AND also below any US Senate petitioning candidates WITH a New-Party Name with respect to such office ~ of which there Are, I am reliably Told :), potentially at least Two. / Saint Joes’s better-ballotpositioning Alternative is to Pick his Own new Party Name. As his Nemesis, Lowell Weicker, successfully did for Governor in 1990 [”A Connecticut Party” ~ a Brilliant choice]; and as the disgraced -&-unrenominated incumbent Dem Senator Tom Dodd, sire of President Chris :), had Unsuccessfully done 20 years earlier [”Dodd Independent”]. / Yeah, it’s outrageously Complicated. That is why I do Love it So. :)
From the New York Times take ~
“While I believe that I will win the Aug. 8 primary,” Mr. Lieberman said in a news conference today, “I know that there are no guarantees in elections. I’m very confident that if every Democrat or even a majority of them vote on Aug. 8, I will be nominated by a comfortable margin.”
That’s true of course, he Would be. / But they Won’t. Not Hardly. The Highest turnout in the 36-year History of CT statewide primaries is slightly over 40%. And That was at a Republican one. For President. In 1980. :|
But Still: Go Joe! :} (In Other Good news, recently the CT AFL-CIO Endorsed our sainted Senator at their rather Uproarious convention. That should help, re Boots on the Ground August 9. / Also, Saint Joe & Lord Ned will debate Live this Thursday on WVIT Channel 30. People may send in their Questions, selected ones to be pressnted to the candidates On Air. I sent in mine already, for Mr. Lamont. Boiled down a bit, it asks essentially, ‘Would you please explain to us how much it Sucks to be You?’ ;>