(Update: Somebody get the WSJ a valium, they’re having a meltdown: "The great mistake that leading Democrats and anti-Communist liberals made during Vietnam was not speaking up against a left that was demanding retreat and sneering at our war heroes. Will any Democrat speak up now?" Triangulating concern trolls. Brilliant.)
Not long ago Peter Daou talked about how the netroots could not get traction for their issues because there was no message reinforcement between the liberal blogosphere, the Democrats and the traditional media, and we could not effectively create that "triangle" that would carry our narratives to a larger audience.
I think we just witnessed it happening, though not in quite the way anybody envisioned. The liberal blogosphere crafted the narrative — Lieberman is a pariah on the Democratic party and he must go. Elected Democratic officials didn’t step up and support that narrative, but the delegates in the state of Connecticut did (and so did our candidate, Ned Lamont). Now the triangle is completed on the pages of the New York Times, where Paul Krugman echoes the message in a wonderful, tightly crafted piece:
Friday was a bad day for Senator Joseph Lieberman. The Connecticut Democratic Party’s nominating convention endorsed him, but that was a given for an incumbent with a lot of political chips to cash in. The real news was that Ned Lamont, an almost unknown challenger, received a third of the votes. This gave Mr. Lamont the right to run against Mr. Lieberman in a primary, and suggests that Mr. Lamont may even win.
What happened to Mr. Lieberman? Some news reports may lead you to believe that he is in trouble solely because of his support for the Iraq war. But there’s much more to it than that. Mr. Lieberman has consistently supported Republican talking points. This has made him a lion of the Sunday talk shows, but has put him out of touch with his constituents and with reality.
Mr. Lieberman isn’t the only nationally known Democrat who still supports the Iraq war. But he isn’t just an unrepentant hawk, he has joined the Bush administration by insisting on an upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq that is increasingly delusional.
Moreover, Mr. Lieberman has supported the attempt to label questions about why we invaded Iraq and criticism of the administration’s policies since the invasion as unpatriotic. How else is one to interpret his warning, late last year, that "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"?
And it’s not just Iraq. A letter sent by Hillary Clinton to Connecticut Democrats credited Mr. Lieberman with defending Social Security "tooth and nail." Well, I watched last year’s Social Security debate pretty closely, and that’s not what happened. In fact, Mr. Lieberman repeatedly supported the administration’s scare tactics. "Every year we wait to come up with a solution to the Social Security problem," he declared in March 2005, "costs our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren $600 billion more."
This claim echoed a Bush administration talking point, and President Bush wasted little time citing Mr. Lieberman’s statement as vindication. But the talking point was simply false, so Mr. Lieberman was providing cover for an administration lie.
There’s more. Mr. Lieberman supported Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo affair, back when Republican leaders were trying to manufacture a "values" issue out of thin air. And let’s not forget that Mr. Lieberman showed far more outrage over Bill Clinton’s personal life than he has ever shown over Mr. Bush’s catastrophic failures as commander in chief.
On each of these issues Mr. Lieberman, who is often described as a "centrist," is or was very much at odds not just with the Democratic base but with public opinion as a whole. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 40 percent of the public believes that we were right to go to war with Iraq.
Mr. Lieberman’s tender concern for the president’s credibility comes far too late: according to a USA Today/Gallup poll, only 41 percent of Americans consider Mr. Bush honest and trustworthy. By huge margins, the public believed that Congress should have stayed out of the Schiavo case. And so on.
Mr. Lieberman’s defenders would have you believe that his increasingly unpopular positions reflect his principles. But his Bushlike inability to face reality on Iraq looks less like a stand on principle than the behavior of a narcissist who can’t admit error. And the common theme in Mr. Lieberman’s positions seems to be this: In each case he has taken the stand that is most likely to get him on TV.
How do I love thee let me count the ways. Krugman hit ’em all. Every point. What a thing of beauty. I see people walking down the street, oblivious, and I think — do they realize what just happened? Do they know how monumental this is? Do they understand how Chuck Schumer is going to be shitting sideways from now until November, worried about what Lieberman will do next, what he’s going to do next, and what we will do as a result?
I don’t have any crystal ball or special knowledge but the last Rasmussen poll on April 27 showed that Lieberman stood a much better chance of beating Lamont in a three-way race in November than he did in a Democratic primary, and those numbers are old. Since that time Ned has traveled around to one small city after another, meeting with local delegates, talking to people in places Joe Lieberman hadn’t seen in 18 years. As a pure practical matter, if Joe Lieberman wants to keep his seat he’ll say screw the Democratic party, throw his lot in as an independent and pit the Democrats and the Republicans against each other as the both court him in order to get him to caucus with them should he win the general election.
And what would the blogosphere do if the DSCC were to support an independent over a Democratic candidate? Again, I have no crystal ball but the words "unleash unholy hell" do suggest themselves.
And that job will be made a whole lot easier due to the fact that the message is now being carried on the pages of the New York Times. Don’t change that channel, boys and girls. I have no idea what the feature attraction is going to be, but I get the distinct feeling the show is just about to start.
(image courtesy Shystee at Corrente)