Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sore Losers


In Time magazine, Mike Allen regurgitates the Republican line on Lieberman's defeat: "The Democrats' rejection of a sensible, moralistic centrist has handed the GOP a weapon that could have vast ramifications for both the midterm elections of '06 and the big dance of '08." A Democratic primary in Connecticut is quite unlikely to augur "vast ramifications" for anything that happens two years hence, but never mind. What is most astonishing about Allen's analysis is that he ignores the stunning verdict on Lieberman delivered by his own colleagues, which showed exactly why he was anything but "sensible" on the issue of the war.

It was Michael Ware, Time's Baghdad bureau chief, who provided the single most pungent assessment of the "centrist" senator last November. In an interview broadcast on Air America's morning show, the reporter recalled his puzzling encounter with the sunny, silly optimist so beloved by the White House:

"I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot, or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting."

In other words, Lieberman lacked credibility with voters on the most critical issue of the moment. He may pretend now to be a "critic" of the White House, but that isn't why Karl Rove has been calling every day since the primary to offer his support and best wishes.

Such basic facts and clear perceptions present no intellectual obstacle to the shrewd purveyors of Beltway spin. Consider Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate, who published a breathtakingly dishonest attack on Lamont's supporters:

"The problem for the Democrats is that the anti-Lieberman insurgents go far beyond simply opposing Bush's faulty rationale for the war, his dishonest argumentation for it, and his incompetent execution of it. Many of them appear not to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously."

He provides no evidence for that bit of Rovian smear, because there is none. The same liberal bloggers who backed Lamont are helping former Navy secretary Jim Webb in the Virginia Senate race and Democratic veterans in several congressional races. It would be amusing to hear the Slate editor tell them they aren't tough enough.

As one of the "liberal hawks" who helped to sell the Iraq war, Weisberg has since changed his mind, but he cannot tolerate the public repudiation of his terrible mistake.

"Just about everyone now agrees that the sooner we find a way to withdraw, the better for us and for the Iraqis," Weisberg says. But if everyone agreed about the need to get out as soon as possible, the voters wouldn't be infuriated with Bush -- and would not need to express that sentiment by dumping Lieberman.