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Hippo_Tron's Journal
Posted by Hippo_Tron in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Wed Jul 26th 2006, 06:24 PM
Why Senator Lieberman Lost My Support

By Hippo_Tron


About two months ago, I was discussing politics with my father. Both of us are loyal Democrats, so usually there isn't much arguing. It's always about whether we think that the Democrats can win the next election. My father said to me, "If the Democrats want to win the midterms, they should promise to withdraw from Iraq within six months if they win back congress." I said, "Come on, you know that's never going to happen. Especially with people like Joe Lieberman around, there will never be such a bold party stance on Iraq." My father replied, "Well maybe Lieberman needs to be challenged in the primary." I said, "Well dad, as a matter of fact he is being challenged in the primary."

It was then that I proceeded to tell my father about Ned Lamont. At the time, Lamont was just rising from obscurity and campaigning hard to overcome his lack of name recognition. Two months later and Lamont is polling ahead of Senator Lieberman in the August 8th primary.

Also since then, something else very critical has happened. The Senate voted on the Kerry-Feingold amendment. Clearly that vote shows that Lieberman or no Lieberman, the democratic party isn't willing to set a date for withdrawal. But on that same day the Senate Democrats overwhelmingly supported the Levin Amendment.

While not as the Kerry Amendment, the Levin Amendment clearly showed that Democrats support forcing the Bush administration to start changing its Iraq policy. Now to be fair, Senator Lieberman was joined by four other Democrats in dissenting on the Levin Amendment. But lets be honest. Except for people from their states or political junkies, nobody knows or cares about who Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson, and Bill Nelson are. And while Senator Mary Landrieu has some national recognition, people are generally only concerned with her when it comes to issues regarding Hurricane Katrina.

But Senator Lieberman is different. He is different because the second that Al Gore put him on the ticket in 2000, he received national recognition. People all over the country know who Joe Lieberman is. His is one of the most well known Democrats along with people like John Kerry, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama.

And here lies the reason that I first decided to support Ned Lamont. It's not just that Senator Lieberman supports the Iraq War and Ned Lamont doesn't. If it were just that, I wouldn't really have a problem with him and frankly I don't think that so many Democratic voters in Connecticut would either. Senator Cantwell, who also supports a “stay the course” strategy in Iraq, had a primary challenger named Mark Wilson. Wilson ran against Cantwell largely on her support for the continued occupation of Iraq. Wilson's campaign failed miserably and he is now endorsing Senator Cantwell.

Now I will admit that Lamont has two things going for him that Wilson didn't. One, he has personal wealth two spend on his campaign. Two, Connecticut is a very blue state in contrast to the more purple Washington. That said, a blue state and personal finances don't make a candidate go from barely polling in double digits to 51%.

So what is the difference between Senator Cantwell and Senator Lieberman? Senator Lieberman hogs media attention and uses it to undermine the majority of Democrats who want serious changes in Iraq. While Senator Cantwell doesn't support serious changes in Iraq, nobody outside of Washington State and the blogosphere knows or cares because she isn't a national figure and isn't on Meet The Press and This Week every other Sunday telling Democrats to line up with Bush.

I'm okay with Senator Lieberman being in the Democratic Party. But I'm not okay with him using his national recognition to undermine the majority of the Democratic Party and the majority of the country on the most important issue in this upcoming election. Chairman Dean, Congresswoman Pelosi, and Senator Reid have all been elected to speak for the party and they are calling for a new direction in Iraq. Senator Lieberman has clearly shown that he could care less what our party leaders have to say by making statements such as, "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

Now on to my second major problem with Senator Lieberman: his decision to run as an independent. I'm not saying that Senator Lieberman doesn't have a right to run as an independent. He has every right under the law to do so. However, his decision to do so gives me much reason to question his loyalty to the Democratic Party. Furthermore, he himself has said that not voting for the Democratic nominee is a wasted vote, this of course in reference to Ralph Nader.

What really infuriates me is that Senator Lieberman acts like primary challenges haven't happened in the past and that this is just a crazy "jihad" from the blogosphere. Senator Schummer, chairman of the DSCC, seems to also have adopted the attitude that primaries are completely unprecedented and that he has to seriously consider what to do in this situation. Well I have some news for Senator Schummer: primaries are NOT unprecedented. Here's a list of Senate incumbents being unseated in primary races going back to 1962, from Ken Rudin's article "Can Lieberman Survive the Primary".

2002: Bob Smith (R-NH) – lost to John Sununu (GOP retained seat in November)
1996: Sheila Frahm (R-KS)* - lost to Sam Brownback (GOP retained seat)
1992: Alan Dixon (D-IL) – lost to Carol Moseley Braun (Dems retained seat)
1980: Donald Stewart (D-AL) – lost to Jim Folsom Jr. (GOP picked up seat); Mike Gravel (D-AK) – lost to Clark Gruening (GOP picked up seat); Dick Stone (D-FL) – lost to Bill Gunter (GOP picked up seat); Jacob Javits (R-NY) – lost to Al D'Amato (GOP retained seat)
1978: Maryon Allen (D-AL)* - lost to Donald Stewart (Dems retained seat); Paul Hatfield (D-MT)*; lost to Max Baucus (Dems retained seat); Clifford Case (R-NJ) – lost to Jeffrey Bell (Dems picked up seat)
1974: J. W. Fulbright (D-AR) – lost to Dale Bumpers (Dems retained seat); Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH)* - lost to John Glenn (Dems retained seat)
1972: David Gambrell (D-GA)* - lost to Sam Nunn (Dems retained seat); B. Everett Jordan (D-NC) – lost to Nick Galifianakis (GOP picked up seat)
1970: Ralph Yarborough (D-TX) – lost to Lloyd Bentsen (Dems retained seat)
1968: Ernest Gruening (D-AK) – lost to Mike Gravel (Dems retained seat); Thomas Kuchel (R-CA) – lost to Max Rafferty (Dems picked up seat); Edward Long (D-MO) – lost to Thomas Eagleton (Dems retained seat); Frank Lausche (D-OH) – lost to John Gilligan (GOP picked up seat)
1966: Donald Russell (D-SC)* - lost to Ernest Hollings (Dems retained seat); Ross Bass (D-TN) – lost to Frank Clement (GOP picked up seat); A. Willis Robertson (D-VA) – lost to William Spong (Dems retained seat)
1964: J. Howard Edmondson (D-OK)* – lost to Fred Harris (Dems retained seat)
1962: Maurice Murphy (R-NH)* - lost to Perkins Bass (Dems picked up seat)

In fact, it goes back even further than that. President Roosevelt attempted to unseat Southern Democrats in primary races in the 1938 midterm elections because they would not support his New Deal policies.

Since primary challenges have happened in so many instances in the past, this really should be a no-brainer for Senator Schummer. You respect the will of the primary voters and support the Democratic nominee in the general election. That is the way that it has always been done.

I want to touch on one of these primary races listed above, because I think it is very relevant to the Lieberman/Lamont race. In 1992 Senator Alan Dixon (D-IL) lost his the primary to Carol Moseley-Braun. Moseley-Braun along with fellow challenger Al Hofeld attacked Senator Dixon mostly on one issue and that was his vote to confirm Clarence Thomas. This is similar to how Lamont is mainly attacking Lieberman on one big issue and that is his support for the Iraq War. However, there was thing that was quite different in the Illinois primary than there is in the Connecticut primary.

When Senator Dixon lost he didn't bolt the party and run as an independent or complain that there was a left wing jihad against him. He endorsed Carol Moseley-Braun and gave a gracious concession speech, saying, "I spent a lifetime in Democratic politics, and I spent that lifetime in Democratic politics playing by the rules. . . . And I said in this primary campaign that I would support the winner, that I would endorse the winner, and that I would vote for the winner. . . . I accept that result just as fully as I accepted 29 good results for Alan Dixon in the past."

Yes, there was definitely something very different with that primary race than there is with this one. Alan Dixon had class. Joe Lieberman doesn't.
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