My last, sunnily optimistic post about Bush's likely defeat on Social Security has already been interpreted by Matt Yglesias and Atrios as an effort to provide "political cover" for Joe Lieberman's reported effort to cut a bogus "deal" with Lindsay Graham. Wrong-o, folks.
What I actually said, not very ambiguously, is that one of two Dems ain't going to save Bush's bacon on this. After acknowledging that I might be right (or wrong) about that, Matt argues that the possible irrelevance of Lieberman's deal-sniffing is "no excuse for doing it." I agree entirely.
Fine, I suppose. I never though Kilgore supported Lieberman's potential move, just that by downplaying its significance it provided cover. But, if that wasn't his motivation then I stand corrected. But, what's this about?
Right now the blogosphere is full of talk about litmus tests and purges, whether or not they contribute to either of those goals. And if the email I'm getting about Lieberman is any indication, we're getting close to litmus tests and purges about litmus tests and purges ("Are you now, or have you ever been, opposed to kicking Joe Lieberman out of the party?").
Perhaps the blogosphere is full of such talk, but it's not something you actually see any of on, you know, this blog or over at Big Media Matt's place, so I'm not sure what the relevancy is.
But, while it isn't coming from Ed himself, this kind of rhetoric is actually coming from, you know, his boss who is regularly and loudly chastizing the Dem establishment for not running screaming from everyone to the left of [insert favorite DLC Senator of the week], and who does advocate actively purging large portions of the party's activist base, writing "You've got to reject Michael Moore and the MoveOn crowd." Note he's not talking about Michael Moore or MoveOn themselves but their "crowds." It isn't simply Moore and MoveOn which the party needs to purge, but their supporters!
Ed concludes with:
Maybe the hellish pressure on Lieberman to step back from a bogus deal will work, maybe not. If he goes ahead, let's make it clear he does not speak for other Democrats, and minimize the potential damage instead of acting like Bush has already won. And after we win, there will be plenty of time to play back the tapes and pin the tail on errant donkeys, in a calmer climate.
Well, if he does go ahead who is going to make sure that he does not speak for other Democrats? These things don't happen in a vacuum -- unless it's established beforehand that this is indeed an issue in which party discipline is required, and that the consequences of straying will be harsh. Ed may be right that we'll win anyway, but it's not just about winning the battle. "Bush social security" should replace "clinton health care plan" as shorthand for presidential domestic policy meltdown. This is about winning the war.
Finally, what is this "calmer climate" that he speaks of? The wheels on the bus go round and round...