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Friday, March 03, 2006

Loserman needs to leave

I love you George.

'Lieberman Democrats' Have No Place In an Opposition Party

By Ari Melber
March 3, 2006
Politicians of all stripes were outraged when news first broke about the Dubai port deal, but not Senator Joseph Lieberman. Declaring that it was "not yet" time to block the deal, Lieberman distinguished himself as one of the few legislators — and the only prominent Democrat — to support the Bush administration in the firestorm over Dubai Ports World's bid to take over terminal operations at six major American ports.

Lieberman's position was roundly condemned in Democratic activist and online communities, where many consider him a turncoat. Some Democrats are even openly supporting a challenger in the August primary for his Senate seat.

The groundswell of opposition from within Lieberman's own party runs far deeper than the Dubai deal — and, for that matter, his continued support for the war in Iraq. The fallout between the Connecticut senator and the Democratic base illustrates a broader debate that has gripped the party since the most recent presidential election.

The debate has little to do with ideology. It is, first and foremost, about leadership.

Many activists believe that Lieberman's conciliatory approach undercuts the party's unity, consistency and confrontational posture, all of which are essential for an effective opposition party. They resent his style more than they resent his voting record, which is not very different from those of many popular Democrats.

Democrats saw in the Dubai ports debacle an opportunity to catch President Bush on the defensive. They wanted a unified message blasting the administration's failure to handle port security and touting their own solid record on the issue, including the Hollings and Byrd port appropriations amendments that Republicans squelched in 2004. Instead, Lieberman broke ranks to support the outsourcing of port security to a country that housed September 11 hijackers and has a diplomatic policy that recognized the Taliban but not Israel.

In case anyone thinks Lieberman is not taking this seriously, last week he held an elaborate press conference to announce endorsements — simply to be his party's nominee.

That was more than three years ago. Today, Democratic activists have little patience for leaders who still don't get it. The Santa Monica-based Digby's Blog explained the contrast in a post this month: "The grass roots of the Democratic Party see something that all the establishment politicians have not yet realized: Bipartisanship is dead for the moment, and there is no margin in making deals. The rules have changed. When you capitulate to the Republicans for promises of something down the road, you are being a fool. When you make a deal with them for personal reasons, you are selling out your party. When you use Republican talking points to make your argument, you are helping the other side."

If Democratic leaders listened to this insight, they would understand that many of their supporters yearn for confrontational leadership and unwavering allegiance to the party — reasonable requests that do not require major ideological shifts.

The primary challenges to Lieberman, Cuellar and other like-minded Democrats are designed either to purge the targets or to temper their conduct, while warning other elected Democrats that disloyalty now has a cost. It is a valiant effort finally to give the Democratic Party more discipline, all the more striking because the calls for unity are coming from the bottom up.

posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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