Maybe it only seems that way, but somehow it’s always the Democrats who get themselves into fixes like this one.
Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman is a respected three-term senator, a proven vote-getter on a national ticket and the kind of personable centrist Democrat most able to appeal to independents and disaffected Republicans. The kind of stalwart the party needs, one would say.
And he would easily win re-election in November if he can get by the party primary on Aug. 8, which he well may not. And if he doesn’t, Lieberman says he will run as an independent in the fall.
His problem: He is a reliable supporter of the war in Iraq, even as his party’s grass roots turn more and more antiwar. Democrats had hoped to run on President Bush’s handling of that war, but the party’s base is pushing for flat-out opposition to the war altogether.
Lieberman is being challenged by Ned Lamont, a wealthy cable-TV entrepreneur who has plenty of money of his own to fund his campaign, which is shaping up as a referendum on the Iraq war. Lamont has been helped with both money and publicity by liberal and left-wing bloggers eager to make an example of Lieberman.
While Lieberman has the support of national Democrats and Senate colleagues, his announcement that he will run as an independent if he loses hasn’t set well with many party regulars. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, for one, says she will support the winner of her party’s primary. But early polls show that Lieberman could win as an independent; the polls show no chance for the Republican candidate.
The timing of the primary is a problem for Lieberman, too. Many people are away on vacation in early August, and mainly the activists will rouse themselves out of the summer doldrums to go vote.
The spectacle of the Democrats jettisoning their 2000 vice-presidential nominee will not be a pretty one, let alone having two Democrats at each other’s throats in a fall campaign likely to draw national attention. It does not augur well for party plans to regain control of the Senate.
(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)