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I don't need to tell anyone reading this that 2006 is our chance to reverse six horrible years of Democratic losses. In less than five months, we may once again control the Senate, the House, or both. If not, we'll at least be much closer to a majority and much more able to influence policy for the better. Either way, 2006 will be a good year, and this is our chance to shine.

There are a lot of exciting Senate races this year where Democrats have a terrific chance to pick up seats. To find out which one has our party's activists are really excited about, I conducted a quick, non-scientific Google search on DailyKos in the past 3 months. Montana, with a great candidate in blogosphere-favorite Jon Tester? A search on "Burns" reveals 28,200 hits. What about Pennsylvania? Canine enthusiast "Santorum" gives 26,800 hits. And how about the nail-biting Rhode Island race? "Chafee" shows 9,550 hits. Well, those are the most exciting races; 28,200 isn't bad. Just for kicks and giggles, though, let's look at a little primary campaign in the Northeast. It's a safe Democratic seat, and the winner will be a Democrat no matter what, so there isn't a whole lot to be excited about as far as taking back the Senate. So how many hits does a search on "Lieberman" give?

45,500. Activists are more riled up about a Democratic incumbent in Connecticut than any Republican seat up for the taking in 2006.

Look, I follow Democratic blogs religiously. I know the arguments. Lieberman supported the war and still supports it whole-heartedly. Lieberman appears on Fox News and isn't always kind to other Democratic senators. Lieberman criticizes Bush less than he should. Lieberman is a centrist senator from a reliably progressive state. Lieberman runs absolutely God-awful campaign commercials against his challenger. All of these things are true, and none of them make me like Lieberman a whole lot (though the ad is... entertaining).

But Joe Lieberman is a Democrat. And as hard as it may be to believe, he's a pretty damn devoted Democrat, even if he doesn't toe the party line as much as we'd like him to. Progressive Punch is a website that tallies all the votes of every elected official and determines how progressive they are. Their methodology isn't perfect, but take a look and I think you'll agree that it's close enough. With 100 being the most progressive, Joe scores a 76.46, more than 3o points above the nearest Republican. Yes, he's much closer to the center than we would like him to be, but in the grand scheme of things, he's solid blue.

Besides, Lieberman's Senate career isn't nearly as bad as some make it out to be. Remember the Climate Stewardship Act? Sometimes it helps to have a centrist who can rally some support from the other side. It didn't pass, but that was because of the Republicans-- i.e., the people we should be spending our time and money beating. And what about the 2000 campaign? I might just be nostalgic after watching the incredible An Inconvenient Truth, but Lieberman was a pretty good and well-liked Democrat back then. He was a centrist, but people were okay with that; he was recognized as a good guy.

Lieberman still is a good guy. The war vote didn't change that. Unless you're single-issue voting on Iraq, there are much better things to worry about than Joe Lieberman. Once we take back a majority in the Senate, we can have vigorous primaries. Primaries are healthy and a great forum for intra-party debate. But right now, we have bigger races to worry about. Conrad Burns, Rick Santorum, and Lincoln Chafee, for example.

Besides, as ridiculous as the "Joementum" incident may have been, it just doesn't compare to making fun of Rick Santorum. And he's the real problem here.


4 comments:

Rach C said...

Or, I totally agree with you. People don't give Lieberman enough credit sometimes, and quite frankly, we've got bigger fish to fry. We shouldn't be wasting Democratic money fighting over a seat that doesn't need to be in jeopardy. Let's save it for (to quote one of my favorite movies) the fights that need fighting-- Pennsylvania, Montana, Virginia, Tennessee, Rhode Island, etc.

But mainly I just commented to applaud your aggressive use of blogger's "picture" feature. Nice job adding a color (besides blue, that is [ba-dum-cha]) to the blog.

Adam Hearts Dems said...

Or, I respectfully disagree. Yes, Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate and House are terrible. But getting rid of Joe Lieberman is extremely important in Democrats taking back the Senate. Even if Joe votes with us most of the time, and he does and will, he will go on FOX news and bash the party leadership when the time is necessary, and that will hurt our chances of taking back the senate in 2006, keeping it in 2008 and electing a democratic president.

connecticut will elect the democratic nominee, whomever it is, the republican candidate is a fringe candidate and ned lamont would win in a landslide if nominated, adding a progressive, reliable, and loyal progressive democratic senator to our ranks.

the point is, we who don't live in connecticut need to stop talking about this. i'm tired of democrats in washington, d.c. berating liberal bloggers (a lot of whom are actually voters in connecticut, check out lamontblog.com) who are trying to defeat a three-term incumbent. this is democracy in action, and the voters in connecticut have the final say. joe lieberman has nor right to this seat, he was elected to a six-year term, and he needs to be reelected, not recoronated. joe lieberman should prove to democrats in the primary that he is the best man for the job, if not, boot him out.

Rach C said...

Adam-- were this just a connecticut matter, I would agree. But it's no longer just about-- what do you call them? Connecticutians? that sounds incredibly awkward-- it's not just about people from connecticut, whatever you call them, when the media play, volunteers, and money are coming largely from outside the state. take a look at the individuals who donated to Lamont's campaign. I didn't add up all the numbers, but from a cursory glance, it appears to me that more than half the people who donated to Lamont's campaign don't live in connecticut. The same goes for Joe Lieberman.

It's no longer a Democratic issue when this is Democratic money that could be used in real fights against the real political enemies.

Joe Lieberman is not our enemy. I despise the kind of attitude that many lefties hold about Lieberman-- "He shouldn't criticize the party, it damages morale, it gives ammunition to our enemy, blah, blah, blah." That kind of uberliberal attitude totally disgusts me, because it's so hypocritical-- don't we get angry at the Republicans for saying the same things about us when Dems protest or question the war in Iraq? How is this different? Doesn't that kind of attitude towards Lieberman strike as just a teensy bit hypocritical?

We are a country of free speech. Lieberman is entitled to his opinion. And yes, of course, Connecticut voters are also entitled to express their free opinions and vote Lieberman out. But it's totally unrealistic to call this an issue just for Connecticut when valuable nationwide Democratic resources are being wasted on this fight.

OrSkolnik said...

Adam-- good points, but I just can't get behind your argument. America doesn't vote against the Democrats because Joe Lieberman sometimes criticizes our leadership. There will always be centrists, and they will always criticize people in our party. Whether you think it's their convictions or part of their look-at-me-I'm-moderate act (and it's probably a little bit of both), it's a fact both parties have to live with. Unless you want to cut 10-15 senators on a quest for party purity, but I don't think we're in any place to do that.

Also, saying a lot of liberal bloggers are in Connecticut is kind of like saying a lot of Democrats are in Connecticut. It's true, but it's meaningless; there are thousands of liberal bloggers. The biggest ones (see: Kos, Atrios, TPM) who constantly rally the troops against Lieberman aren't.

No, Lieberman doesn't have a God-given right to anything. Challenge him away. My point is just that making the CT primary the front page race across the largest progressive blogs is a bad strategic decision if the goal is to have a majority in November. Bloggers can do whatever they want, but I know Kos in particular has written extensively on how important it is to get even conservative Democrats elected over liberal Republicans simply because of the all-important majority and committee chairs that hang in the balance. To everyone in this game, the goal is a Democratic senate that can introduce a real progressive agenda without having to wait for a Republican committee chair to grace it with a hearing. Lieberman's supporters and Lamont's supporters both want the same thing. In such an important year, the majority will be close, and our effort should go on retaking the Senate, not toppling Democratic senators.