The primary defeat of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman to Ned Lamont is bigger I think than just the usual Republican angst/jubilation over the Democrats continuing their long slide into complete irrelevance on foreign policy in general and national security in particular. Lieberman broached the bigger issue that I think is at play in his concession speech last night. The problem is not so much that the anti-war left is taking over the party, it’s that the anti-civility (or angry) left is taking over.
The reason I don’t think it’s much of a problem that the anti-war left is taking over is because where the anti-war left does have an influence, they have already turned those Democrats who were not for a vigorous War on Terror from the start. Lieberman and Clinton are the only deep blue state Senators who have bucked it. Lieberman paid the price yesterday and Clinton will in the 2008 presidential primaries. However, where the angry left doesn’t have as much influence the Democrats are more able to behave somewhat responsibly and should largely continue doing so. It is somewhat silly for Republicans to claim that Lieberman losing is the end of the old Truman or Scoop Jackson Democrats. Lieberman is not the only Democrat, for example, to have supported the war in Iraq, supported it’s funding, and supports it to this day. These Democrats are no where near a majority of the Democratic Party but neither is Lieberman the last of them. Longer term this is also beneficial for the Republicans since the more the angry left shows its true colors the more independents are likely to vote against the Democrats and the more likely Republicans are to turn out to vote.
Rather, the major problem is that we are seeing civility in Washington disappear. The angry left is a movement that sees its political opponents as evil criminals and has no inhibition against saying it. A perfect example of this was on display last night during Hannity & Colmes’ coverage of the primary results. Hannity is the conservative of the duo and would thus be disliked by anyone of the liberal persuasion. Colmes was at the headquarters of Ned Lamont when one of Lamont’s supporters in the background held up a sign that read “Hannity sucks ass”. Why on earth would anyone do something like that on national TV? I very much disagree with Colmes on virtually everything but I would never say anything like that about him, especially not on national TV where everyone could see what an out of control idiot I was being. Lieberman mentioned this in his concession speech when he said,
“I expect that my opponent will continue to do in the general election what he has done in the primary, partisan polarizing instead of talking about how we can solve people's problems, insults instead of ideas… I'll never hesitate to work with members of the other party if it helps to achieve solutions to build better life for people of Connecticut. I will always do what I believe is right for my state and country regardless of what the political consequences may be.”
The main focus of most, including the nutroots themselves, may be the anti-war part but I think the overarching issue is that Lieberman played nice with Republicans even if he voted as an almost perfect liberal. You can see that in the complaints that are made about Lieberman saying adultery is wrong (imagine that) during the Monica scandal and the infamous “Judas kiss” from Bush.
Again, I do not think this outcome is necessary bad for the Republicans. Lamont represents everything that is wrong with the Democrat Party today. Karl Rove will no doubt take full advantage of yet another such perfect example come November. However, having one party so debase itself in such a way is not good for the country in any respect. If the said party wins then the country will be run by people fully capable of coming up with Bushitler and "Hannity sucks ass" but bereft of any real ideas or common sense. If they do not win (as is more likely) then the country will be run by a party that isn’t challenged and is thus not as ideologically prepared for running the country as it could be.
What we are seeing then is the end of the days when at least some Democrats didn’t think the answer to Republican electoral success is lawsuits, the reply to any compromise from the Republicans is to take it and then immediately decry the evil heartless Republicans and demand more, who do not believe that every funeral, tragedy, hearing is a political event to be exploited, and who love their country more than they hate their political opponents.