Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar

(Guest Posted by Big Tent Democrat)

Honey you do me wrong but still I'm crazy about you
Stay away too long and I can't do without you
Every chance you get you seem to hurt me more and more
But each hurt makes my love stronger than before
I know flowers go through rain
But how can love go through pain

Ain't that peculiar
A peculiar ality
Ain't that peculiar baby
Peculiar as can be

On July 3, Newsweek columnist Jon Alter wrote:

These are the stakes: if Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win. It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research. But those issues won't get the Congress back for Democrats. Iraq can.

Last December, Joe Lieberman wrote that Our Troops Must Stay:

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. . . . [T]he Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation . . . --unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

. . . I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country. The leaders of Iraq's duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America's commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

. . . What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory. . . . Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.

(Emphasis supplied.) Ain't that peculiar? No more peculiar than Alter's latest:

The fury directed at [Lieberman] by many Democrats is rooted not just in his support for Bush's Iraq fiasco but in his annoying habit of hedging his bets, as reflected in his risk-averse insistence that if he loses the primary, he'll run as an independent. . . . But there's something psychologically deeper going on in this campaign that is both understandable and depressing--a cannibalistic distraction from what should be the top priority of Democrats, namely booting Republicans. The same Democrats who are justifiably angry with Lieberman for not holding Bush accountable are harming efforts to, well, hold Bush accountable.

Ain't that peculiar? In July Alter wrote that Democrats should take on the Republicans on Iraq. In August Alter writes that Democrats should not nominate candidates who will take on Republicans on Iraq. Because . . . primaries are . . . bad? Replacing a Dem who supports Bush's fiascoes with one who won't is um, what, exactly Mr. Alter? Ain't that peculiar?

How does Mr. Alter propose to urge Democrats to not fear the Iraq issue when they must fear the defeat of Joe Lieberman? How could Jon Alter have written this in July:

We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on."

And then write this in August:

[T]he Senate needs collegial moderates who work across party lines. It's the only way to stop the really bad stuff. And the revival of the romance of the antiwar left is a potential disaster for the Democrats. That's what gave the world Richard Nixon in 1968, when ideologically pure liberals who had backed Eugene McCarthy in the primaries refused to rally around Hubert Humphrey because Humphrey was "complicit" in the Vietnam War machine. . . . The bloggers who have noisily intervened deny they're interested in ideological purity. They point to their support in Senate races for pro-life candidates. But on Iraq, the liberal blogs brook no dissent. . . . They're helping fuel a collective version of what shrinks call "projection," where the anger of Democrats at Bush is projected on a handy target, in this case Lieberman. But in doing so, they have neglected what FDR called "the putting of first things first." Job one for Democrats is identifying which Republican House incumbents are vulnerable in their own states and directing all available energy against them. Savaging fellow Democrats (except those who cannot win) should come after taking control, not before.

Cognitive dissonance is not a pretty thing in a pundit. Don't fear Iraq? Don't attack poor Joe on Iraq? Hard to do both Mr. Alter. Oh and Mr. Alter, defeating Joe does not mean NOT defeating Republicans. Rather peculiar of you to think of it that way.

But you seem to be asking Democrats, and Connecticut Democrats particularly, to love one who takes

Every chance you get you seem to hurt me more and more
But each hurt makes my love stronger than before
I know flowers go through rain
But how can love go through pain

Ain't that peculiar
A peculiar ality
Ain't that peculiar baby
Peculiar as can be"

Too peculiar. Must be a Beltway thing. Connecticut Democrats seem not too keen on destructive relationships with their politicians.

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    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 01:35:10 PM EST
    Did Alter write, "will ultimately die?" Shouldn't it be "may" since the life threatening parts of stem cell research is still theory and not perfected as of yet. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 01:54:49 PM EST
    Alter wrote:
    It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#3)
    by jimcee on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 03:14:43 PM EST
    Lieberman will be re-elected come autumn and all of the anti-war Left will have wasted its time on the Connecticut race to the detriment of the overall national election. It is a waste of time, money and emotion that will do nothing but alienate the Left when they don't get thier way in November. Apparently 'Big Tent Democrat' doesn't like sharing his tent with certain other Democrats that do not share his beliefs on the Iraq war. How pathetically ironic.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 04:01:33 PM EST
    jimcee, What you are missing and what is showing up in the Lieberman race is that there are many of us who have worked for and followed the Democratic party for years ( my first campaign I worked on was 1976) who feel that this current crop of Democratic leadership (Schumer, the DLC, etc.) have taken us for granted for far too long. Big Tent Democrat harkens back to the Democratic party I worked for, one that allowed arguments inside the party on the theory that it actually made us stronger. Lieberman is in trouble for far more than just the war, though that was the straw that broke the camel's back. There is every reason to believe that Lieberman won't win in November, but more importantly, I belive it is up to the Democrats of Connecticut to choose and run their own candidate, even if it isn't the incumbent. I belive that the Democratic Party is stronger when those of us who have been the rank and file for so many years are actually allowed to participate again. Jon Alter, David Broder, the DLC, Charles Schumer, et al, get it wrong when they declare what it will take to win in November and when those of us arguing for a Big Tent are characterized as "a radical left-wing fringe," "the anti-war elite (oh how I wish I made half the money it took to be an elite, then I wouldn't be behind on my rent)," and the other derogatory terms floating around. We as Democrats can and will win by strongly putting our issues before the electorate, by not backing down from a political fight, by not allowing that sub-Atwater political hack Rove to completely control the argument by taking the fight directly to his grounds and making him defend himself. Is there room for debate around the war? Absolutely. It is a complex issue. But there is no room for how we as Democrats are to believe and behave. Those of us who have been around a long time are sick and tired of being taken for granted.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimcee on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 06:14:39 PM EST
    Mr Beckett, I appreciate your idealism and your zeal about the fight for the soul of the Democratic party. Good Luck. I'm an independent now because it saves the heartbreak. The same thing happened in the run-up to the 1968 elections when the McCarthyites refused to support Humphrey over Nixon and we all know how well that worked out. I just have a hard time understanding why there is such a heart-on to defeat Lieberman because of his pro-war stance. But... At the same time no one on the Left is making much of a fuss over the anti-war candidate, Mr Tasini, that opposes Hillary Clinton in NY state. It is kind of hypocritical to excoriate one candidate for his views and give another who shares those same views a look-away pass. Either way come November we'll all be blessed with six more years of both of these people. I'm just being pragmatic.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 08:44:08 PM EST
    Jimcee, I almost feel we should take this discussion elsewhere, but we're here, so why not. In terms of Hilary Clinton (whom I wouldn't support, but I don't live in New York), she has not made the statements many have seen as so egregious (accusing Democrats criticizing the war as undermining the President, etc. Pretty much regurgitating Republican talking points on the war). Secondly, and again I want to emphasise this, the campaign against Lieberman is about far more than the war. My research and reading has repeatedly shown that the Lamont campaign and it's support go much further than just the war. Lieberman is being publicly criticized for his stance on the Bankruptcy bill, his longstanding ties to insurance companies, and much else besides. It is a broad based campaign, and that is why it is not a given that, should he follow through on his threat to run as an Independent, Lieberman will win. I also don't think that the comparison to the '68 campaign is ever very strong, as this breakdown always simplifies a much more complex problem. Humphrey was never that strong a candidate, and the McCarthy/Humphrey debate completely ignores the Nixon campaign's techniques (anyone remember the Southern Strategy?) As a last argument, pragmatics is actually what got us into this mess in the first place. Sometime in the mid 50s, Richard Weaver published a book titled "The Ethics of Rhetoric." As a consevative, he had a chapter critiquing the then Republican party for acting like the Tory party, i.e. a party taht argues that things just aren't right, and we'll take it back to the way it should be (I am violently oversimplifying). I read this book during the end of the 2004 campaign, and it read as a perfect analysis of the failures of the Kerry campaign. It is the pragmatics that the DLC and it's rather right version of "centrism", and the pragmatics of Carles Schumer and his belief that he and the Democratic Congessional campaign should annoint the proper candidates (see the Ford Bell campaign in Minnesota where I used to live) that will continue to lose campaigns. Continually, in the polls, the traditional Democrat issues win, yet the Democratic party won't run on them. This is to me true pragmatics. If you aren't winning campaigns when the public supports your issues, maybe you should look at how you're running them. Anyway, it's a fun and fruitful argument, and I apologize to Talk Left for taking up so much room.

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 08:50:13 PM EST
    jimcee...as an Independent...would you vote for Leiberman? Why or why not?

    Re: Lieberlove: Ain't That Peculiar (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimcee on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 09:27:11 PM EST
    Ernest, If given the chance I would vote for Lieberman but alas I can't. I appreciate his standing by his statements and that he didn't fold in the face of strong opposition. The rest is up to the people of Connecticut but I believe he will win the Senate race come November. Chip Beckett, You may be right about the McCarthy analogy but overall it appears to me that the Dems are in the midst of a party re-alignment and who will dominate remains to be seen. At this time there is no real leadership in the party, no identifiable individual that can unite the party. What does surprise me is that pragmatisism is being disdained by some elements on the Left that want change in gov't but are too impatient to take the time to develop the underpinnings of a long term plan. The Conservatives spent decades creating 'think-tanks' that eventually influenced party dogma. The US gov't was designed to blunt the perfidy of individual leaders by slowing down popular opinion and forcing it through a maze of constitutionalisms. There have been some exceptions, Andrew Jackson for one, where a cult of personality overwhelmed many constitutional limitations. Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, FDR and Truman are also examples. The anti-Lieberman campaign is just wasted energy that could be better used elsewhere. JMHO...