Jon Chait gets it wrong, then gets it right

Jonathan Chait, who once declared that he hated President Bush and explained why in a New Republic piece, has written a piece that appeared in today’s LA Times about the anti-Lieberman forces in Connecticut have overplayed their hand by demanding party purity instead of accepting Senator Joe Lieberman for disagreeing with the DNC on a few issues (namely, Iraq).

Chait gets his hatred of Bush out of the way in the opening paragraphs of the piece by implying that President Bush is a greater threat than OBL. But the meat of his article tackles supporters of Democratic dark horse Ned Lamont:

But if Lieberman’s allies are irritating and often wrongheaded, alas, his enemies are worse. Lieberman recently declared, “I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party.” Markos Moulitsas, the lefty blogger from Daily Kos who has appeared in a Lamont commercial and has made Lieberman’s defeat a personal crusade, posted this quote on his website in the obvious belief that it’s self-evidently absurd. But shouldn’t we all have greater loyalties than the one to our party — say, to our country? Partisanship isn’t nothing, but must it be everything?

Moulitsas and many of his allies insist that they just want Democrats to win. But in fact, they believe that any deviation from the party line — except for a few circumscribed instances, such as Democrats running for office in red states — is an unforgivable crime. They have consigned large chunks of the center-left to enemy status. It is an odd way to go about building a majority.

Their technique of victory-via-purge is on display in Connecticut. Although Lamont decided on his own to run, the left bloggers made his campaign their central cause. One result is that Lieberman has announced his intention to run an independent candidacy should he lose the primary. Moulitsas and other Lamont supporters are filled with outrage that Lieberman has opened up the possibility of splitting the liberal vote and letting a Republican win.

Well, OK, some anger is appropriate here. But doesn’t this suggest that the whole Lamont crusade has sort of backfired? Although I’m no Karl Rove, it seems to me that turning a rock-solid Democratic seat into a potential Republican pickup represents something less than a political masterstroke.

He’s right – the Lieberman-hating Lamont supporters have divided the Democratic camp in CT to the point where it’s not a sure thing that Lieberman’s seat will stay Democratic. What will CT Democrats do if Lieberman decides to run as an Independent? If Lieberman defeats Lamont in next month’s primary, where will Lamont supporters turn? Will they stay at home in November rather than vote for Lieberman?

As Matthew Continetti writes today in the Weekly Standard Joe Lieberman’s “sin” is that he doesn’t hate President Bush. Lieberman, to Lamont supporters, is a proxy for the President – the Bush hating wing of the Democratic party are using their anti-Lieberman campaign to send a message to any Democrat that is remotely moderate in their support for the Iraq war: keep supporting it (and Bush), and we’ll do what it takes to get you out of office.

The same Democrats who support Lamont support the cut and run out of Iraq policy he advocates. They will also claim that they “support the troops” but “not the war.” Right. What these cut and runners ignore is that the type of policy Lamont advocates, if it ever gained traction in Washington, would be a major symbol of weakness that would ring out the world over – especially to Islamofascists. That doesn’t matter to them, though. Cutting and running out of Iraq before the job was complete would, to them, be a huge defeat to the President they’ve hated since he “stole” the election from Democrats back in 2000, and doing so would be a crowning ‘achievement’ in their quest to ‘defeat’ him on the issue of Iraq. In essence, if America were to lose in Iraq, the hate-Bush anti-war wing of the Democratic party would win.

Mark Noonan at B4B writes:

The left hates President Bush because President Bush is President – don’t let anyone ever tell you different: the left hates him because on January 20th, 2001, he was sworn in rather than Al Gore. The various reasons they assert as their reasons for hating President Bush are actually just things tacked on to a hatred which has burned white hot since 2000. Or do you really think that the left only started hating President Bush when we failed to find large stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq?

At any event, this hatred of President Bush is all encompassing for the left. They hate not only President Bush, but all he does and anyone who even remotely has a kind word to say about him. If Joe Lieberman loses the Democratic primary, then the sole reason for that will be his failure to hate President Bush. Lieberman could have torpedoed Lamont in a second by merely stating, even last week, that he thinks President Bush lied to get us into Iraq. That is all it would take – display a little hatred of President Bush, and the left will love you. It doesn’t matter what the left thought about you in the past, either…as evidenced by the strange, new respect the left suddenly holds for Pat Buchanan and a few other righties who are opposed to President Bush on the war.


Even if you don’t live in CT, if you support Lieberman, let him know by visiting his website and showing him you do. Unlike other elected Congresspeople like Senator John Kerry and Rep. John Murtha, even through the tough times Senator Joe Lieberman has stood by his vote authorizing the admin to invade Iraq. He knows the cut and run policy that Lamont and his supporters advocate is wrong, and is willing to stand firm against any policy that would signal surrender and defeat for America.

Others blogging on the Lieberman vs. Lamont race: Moderate Voice


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