Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


E. J. Dionne reports some Lieberman remarks that he thinks may save his bid for the Democratic nomination:

The "biggest lie being told about me by the other side," Lieberman declared, is "the false charge that I am George Bush's best friend and enabler." Lieberman's closing speech reflected a clear recognition that he had no chance of surviving as long as voters associated him with Bush.

If Lieberman loses the primary, and if he does run as an independent, he will suddenly have a whole new constituency: Republicans. Given that Schlesinger, the Republican candidate, is hardly viable, there's a good chance that most Republicans who aren't single-issue abortion voters will rally to Joe. In that case, looking like a friend of Bush will help him. Of course, any repositioning he might try will involve weighing votes lost on the left and votes gained on the right.

Josh Marshall suggests that Lieberman's announcement that he would run as an independent if he lost the primary did him in with Democrats. With partisan Democrats who vote in primaries. Perhaps that's not surprising. From a partisan-Democrat point of view, refusing to abide by a Democratic primary result is to betray the force they believe should be in charge: the Democratic Party.

But partisan Democrats who vote in primaries are almost by definition not representative of the state's voters. Voters who are less fond of the Democratic Party, or political parties in general, might rally to an independent. But Joe needs to show that he's in it for something more than personal power and position. His refusal to abide by the Democratic primary could look arrogant. He's got to say what he's doing it for, and that it isn't himself, but something higher.

What, in particular? 1) The will of the people. Lieberman has always been quite popular with the voters, if not with the Democrats. 2) The defense of liberal civilization. Sometimes the will of the people, and the interests of liberal civilization, do not coincide with the momentary passions of the political parties. Connecticut voters deserve a chance to vote for their brave, popular incumbent senator. Lieberman, don't back out!


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