A few months ago, knee-jerk Democrats who insisted on Republican-style lockstep from all who march under their banner celebrated with open glee the defeat of maverick Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary election.
That unabashed joy carried over into the liberal blogging world where the pundit wannabes on sites like Daily Kos claimed credit for Lieberman’s defeat and predicted Ned Lamont’s staunch anti-Iraq-war stance would carry him to victory in November.
Lieberman, they said, was toast, his career in politics over. The man who carried the Democratic banner as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 became yesterday’s garbage.
But political garbage has a way of returning to stink up the joint. Joe Liberman is now the fly in the ointment, the turd in the punchbowl, the monkey-wrench in the Democratic machine that wants to control the United States Senate.
Turns out old Joe Lieberman knew a hell of a lot more about Connecticut politics than the keyboard commandoes. He ran as an independent and sent Lamont, a one-issue sham candidate, packing along with a token Republican opponent that even the GOP wouldn’t back.
Some sore losers claim the GOP sealed Lieberman’s victory with backroom deals, secret campaign donations and private advice. In the end, the voters of Connecticut, all the voters not just some activist Democrats, spoke and elected the man they felt best represented their state. They didn’t let the bloggers, the pundits and the knee-jerkers speak for them. They decided, which is the way it should be.
Some bloggers and Democratic activists want Lieberman punished for committing what they see as the unpardonable sin of supporting George W. Bush’s ill-conceived and illegal war in Iraq. Like others, I can’t understand Lieberman’s support of the war but I also don’t judge a man for one decision in a lifetime of public service.
Joe Lieberman was, and will remain, a good Senator who represents his state. The naysayers claim Lieberman sold out his state with his stance on Iraq. The voters in Connecticut, the only ones who really have a say in all this, disagreed and returned Lieberman to the Senate.
A more vengeful man would have told the Democratic Party to grow screw itself and tossed control of the Senate back to the Republicans. But Lieberman is not a vengeful man and pledges to caucus with, and back, the party that dumped him so easily. He plans to seek a committee chairmanship that he has earned through his seniority in the Senate.
If the Democrats are smart they will welcome Lieberman back into the fold. They should remember the painful lessons Republican learned in 2001 when Jim Jeffords, ostracized by the GOP because he wasn’t conservative enough for the new order, left the party and turned control of the Senate over to Democrats for two years.
How the Democrats treat Joe Lieberman in party caucuses this week will show whether they are serious abut setting a new tone in Washington.
It’s the first of many tests to see if Democrats are any better than Republicans when it comes to keeping campaign promises and the trust of American voters.