Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lamont v. The Enabler

Well, I didn't exactly get around to discussing the Connecticut Democratic primary for U.S. Senate "tomorrow" as I promised, but the serendipitous advantage of that I've now seen Ned Lamont's appearance on The Colbert Report (no video up yet as I write this, but My Left Nutmeg has a comments thread here).

Despite lots of talk in the local press (e.g., this) that going on Colbert's show was a risky move, I thought Lamont did very well. As several Left Nutmeggers pointed out, he wasn't terribly funny, but trying to outfunny Colbert is usually a losing strategy anyway, I gather. He was composed and straightforward, and most important to me, he used the word I've been waiting to hear: He said Joe Lieberman enables the president.

Look, at some level I have no business blogging on this. I'm not the world's greatest expert on the campaign... heck, I'm not even my household's greatest expert on it! But I am an expert on why I support Lamont and oppose Lieberman, and I get tired of the way the campaign's being characterized. Even when superficially complimentary to Lamont and critical of Lieberman, many commentaries (e.g., here) persist in characterizing the race as a single-issue contest, or as being all about "netroots" versus old-line pols, or as a struggle between ideology and electability, or (e.g., here) as an "elitist insurgency." Why is it so hard for the punditocracy to believe that, at least for some of us, this is not some "inside baseball" political game, but in fact a simple matter of principle? For me, it's not just about the war, as important an issue as that is. It's not about the 90 percent of the time Lieberman has voted with the Democratic leadership, nor the several very important times he has not: Iraq, Alito cloture, the energy bill, etc. Instead, it's about the tone and tenor of Lieberman's relationship with the Bush administration. It's about saving the republic.

Lieberman brags about having the courage of his convictions, and about his commitment to bipartisanship... and in other times, those might be good things to brag about, indeed. But this is a unique moment in history: For the first time in my lifetime -- a lifetime that spans Watergate and most of the Vietnam War, BTW -- I think we're on not only the wrong track, but so disastrously wrong a track that I fear for the future of our national enterprise. The war, our generally belligerent foreign policy, the economy, the assaults on civil liberties at home and human rights abroad, the contempt for science and learning, the dismantling of the infrastructure of public culture, and the attempts to render these things permanent through the courts and the law.... these tea leaves do not bode well for our children, never mind our grandchildren. When the leadership of the party in power is so dangerously wrong about so many things, "bipartisanship" is nothing to brag about. These are times in which the opposition party has a moral duty to oppose, and that's where Lieberman has failed.

I don't mean we must never agree with them: People of good will can disagree on issues even as important as the war, and "even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then." But it does mean that we must never give aid and comfort to their larger agenda, even when we do agree with them on an individual issue. Lieberman's real problem is not the times he's voted with the administration (regrettable as those votes have been); it's that he's too often done so with an unearned smile and unwarranted kind words... and sometimes sealed with a kiss.

That's why I was so happy tonight to hear Lamont say, in so many words, that the war is just the most visible example of the wrong track we're on, and that the problem with Lieberman is that he "enables the president." Now on 8 August I can vote for Ned Lamont not simply because Joe Lieberman must be replaced, but also with confidence that Ned understands why Joe must go... even while much of the press is missing the point.

Unit of the Day: The emu is not a giant butt-ugly flightless bird native to Australia (well, it's that, too, actually, but...), it's an abbreviation for electromagnetic unit. Not properly a unit in itself, it's a notation that indicates a unit is part of the CGS (as opposed to SI) absolute electromagnetic system. For example, 1 volt emu (CGS) = 10-8 volt (SI).


ATalbot said...

Bravo! Good analysis. The Colbert appearance was a good burst of recognition with only 7 days to go! We'll be in touch about possible primary day work.

Mara said...

Joseph Lieberman is now an Enemy of the Re-pub-lllick!