The Washington Post editorial page has endorsed Joe Lieberman’s independent candidacy, saying that his brand of compromise is what today’s politics needs. It’s a similar call we hear from GOP mouthpieces.
Because Mr. Bush has governed too often in a partisan way, many Democratic voters concluded that anyone who reached across the aisle in an effort to cooperate must be a sap. In such an environment, party orthodoxy comes to matter more than accomplishment; any assumption of good faith on the other side becomes a sign of weakness.
… Compromise is not the equivalent of weakness, and Mr. Lieberman is no sap. He is a person of strong views who believes in listening to those who disagree with him and, if possible, finding common ground. The alternative is gridlock. Mr. Lieberman’s brand of centrism and bipartisanship is a needed salve for a divided country, which could use more such lawmakers, not fewer.
Too often? How about “always”? Finding common ground? With this administration and this Congress?
In fact, any Democrat willing to find middle ground with the Bushies usually winds up in no man’s land. This Congress doesn’t even allow Democrats on conference committees, and they have for 12 years exercised the most partisan and often underhanded tactics to achieve a radical agenda.
But the entire reasoning is a canard, and I suspect The Post editors know it, though they may be in denial. Lamont’s victory wasn’t because Lieberman attempted to compromise with Republicans but because he held some fundamental views that are anathema to mainstream Democrats and perhaps Americans in general, such as his support for the Iraq War and warrantless wiretapping and the GOP’s cynical ploy in the Terri Schiavo case.
He lost not because he was willing to compromise but that he was unwilling to fight for the principles of the party that nominated him as vice president.
There is no indication that given, for example, a comprehensive plan to provide universal healthcare in this country that Ned Lamont would be unwilling to compromise on the details. He may also be willing to compromise on the timetable for withdrawing from Iraq, but agreeing to stay the disastrous course isn’t compromise, it’s capitulation.
If anything, Lamont’s victory is a call to Republicans to recognize that Bush won a narrow victory and that they need to begin compromising.
And by his attempt to run as an independent, Lieberman is proving that he is without principle and stands only for his own interests. And now it appear, he will get Republican support for his campaign.
Rep. Chris Shays, the Connecticut Republican whose seat is a target for the Democrats this year, told [David Broder] the morning after the primary that he is supporting Lieberman and thinks he can win a three-way race against Lamont and the weak Republican challenger, Alan Schlesinger. Other prominent Republicans are also poised to back Lieberman and raise money for him.
Last night’ cable show talking heads seemed to think Lieberman’s toughest challenge now will be raising money, as Democrats quietly tell their contributors to support Lamont.
But Lieberman has $2 million leftover and may have reliable sources.
Pro-Israel money will help give Joe Lieberman the ability to run a serious race if he sticks with his vow to make an independent bid to keep his Senate seat, according to political insiders and some pro-Israel donors themselves.
This support, they said, will counterbalance the evaporation of political backing Lieberman will now likely experience from his Democratic Party colleagues with the victory Tuesday of his primary opponent in Connecticut, Ned Lamont.
“I think the pro-Israel political action committees, and even more so, pro-Israel individuals will give their money to Lieberman,” said Steven Rabinowitz, a Democratic campaign consultant specializing in the Jewish community who is backing Lieberman’s independent bid. “They’ll raise a lot of money, which will enable him to run an independent campaign. If he gets out, it won’t be because he can’t raise the money.”
Jack Bendheim, a pro-Israel activist who supported Lieberman financially in the primary agreed, saying, “I think he’ll have the resources he needs.”
No question that Lieberman is a staunch Israel supporter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Jewish donors will forsake the Democratic nominee.
During the primary campaign, Lamont attacked Lieberman relentlessly for his unstinting support of the war in Iraq. But Lamont also voiced his support for Israel, and for its controversial military campaign in Lebanon against Hezbollah in particular.
Still, some noted with concern Lamont’s decision to give his late-night victory speech Tuesday flanked by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Jesse Jackson, who are viewed in some sectors of the community as unfriendly to Israel.
“I think that was a poignant picture that tingled down everyone’s spine,” said David Baram, president of the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut. “Seeing that array of supporters, for some of us who know how these individuals see Israel, it’s of grave concern to us.”
Baram, a former mayor of Bloomfield, Conn., and chairman of the town’s Democratic Party committee, also voiced concern about Lamont’s call in his victory speech for greater “respect” for the views of U.S. allies in shaping American foreign policy “as opposed to exercising American leadership.” Given the international community’s “belligerence” towards Israel, this was worrying, he said.
Rabinowitz termed Lamont’s victory pose with Sharpton, Jackson and Waters “unfortunate” but said, “They’re hardly the defining backers in his race.”
Mark Silk, executive director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., said the effect on Connecticut Jewish voters would be minimal. “I can imagine some Jewish voters twitched a bit to see the Lamont campaign with Jesse and Sharpton. But Connecticut voters are pretty sophisticated. They understand an endorsement doesn’t matter that much,” said Silk.
Even Baram admitted a significant portion of the Jewish community — particularly younger voters — appeared to have opted for Lamont, in no small part on the strength of his stand against the Bush administration on the war in Iraq.
The next poll on the three-way race and the Clintons’ next move thereafter may be key.
Lamont was impressive last night on “Hardball.” He comes across as articulate, principled and dedicated to change, much like many Republicans who came into office in 1994. And I suspect, he’ll compromise with them as well as they compromise with him. Which is how it should be.