Democrats’ Scalp of Choice
(Editor's Note: Some references in the column were updated August 11,
2006 to reflect the outcome of the races mentioned.)
completely normal, in fact essential, for any political party to
mobilize against some of its most divisive, extreme or even irrational
members when these mavericks have a consistent negative impact on the
team. As such, you would figure the Democratic establishment would rally
its troops to ensure that those who serve as more of a liability than
party leaders would be systematically rooted out as necessary for the
well-being of the organization.
think that the Democrats would start by doing what they did in Georgia - eliminating Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whose name recognition is tied almost
solely to the outrage she has caused over the years. Soon after the
attacks of September 11th, McKinney apologized on behalf of
Rudy Giuliani, who had turned down a monetary donation from Saudi Prince
Alwaleed Bin Talal because the accompanying message placed blame for the attacks
on U.S. foreign policy.
she suggested that the Bush administration had prior knowledge of the
attacks that killed close to 3,000 Americans, and she was recently one
of only three members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for
an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. A few months ago,
McKinney created a national hullabaloo after physically hitting a
Capitol Hill Police officer, claiming she was actually the victim
because of her status as a “female, black, progressive Congresswoman”
before being forced to recant.
McKinney did indeed lose,
but there was hardly a massive movement within the Democratic Party to
have hoped that one of America’s two major political parties would channel
their efforts toward ousting yet another source of public embarrassment.
Congressman John Murtha, a former member of the armed forces, gained
national attention when he called for an immediate withdrawal of the
United States from Iraq, which in and by itself is reckless and
irresponsible. Delighted with the enthusiastic response he received from
the far left of his party, he further spiced up his comments by
asserting that he would not join the military today.
working to rectify his demoralizing comments, Murtha further put down
our troops by publicly declaring that U.S. Marines “killed innocent
civilians in cold blood,” referring to a yet unresolved incident in
Haditha, Iraq, involving the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians. While one
expects that a congressman would wait to understand the facts of the
situation before making such powerful statements, Murtha did not even
give the Marines the benefit of the doubt, sullying their names and
reputations while they have not even been charged with any wrongdoing.
Democrats choose not to punish such symbols of thoughtlessness and
betrayal – they instead have a tendency to reelect them, as they did in
the case of Murtha. They do,
however, choose to punish another brand of Democratic delegates. As is
currently being demonstrated in the Connecticut Democratic Senate
primary, the Democratic politicians most at risk are the coalition
builders, and the ones who place principles above politics.
Lieberman is a good Democrat. Liberal on most issues, he was thought
trustworthy enough by his party establishment, as recently as the year
2000, to be the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United
States. For 18 years he served his party – and his country – in the
Senate, and has proven himself a solid leader and popular within
Connecticut’s general electorate. One would think that Lieberman is an
asset that his party would fight to retain at all costs.
But Democratic primary
voters ousted him on Tuesday.
has stood up for his
beliefs in a party that is decreasingly tolerant of ideological
diversity within its ranks. Though his backing of the Iraq War in its
opening stages put him in line with the majority of Americans, his
continued support for it today has placed him in a camp dominated by
Republicans as Democrats increasingly deserted the pro-war coalition. As
such, he is now seen by his party mates as a traitor for maintaining a
stance shared by Republicans, including the worst of them all, President
Democrats have come to see the senator’s behavior not as an expression
of his beliefs, but as an active process of disloyalty to the party. A
top congressional aide told the Washington Post that “Senator
Lieberman is past the point of being taken seriously… because everything
he does is seen as advancing his own self-interest, instead of the
Democratic interest.” When last week Al Sharpton headed to Connecticut
to campaign for Ned Lamont – Lieberman’s challenger in the heated race –
he explained that Lieberman “has been much more aligned with President
Bush” than he ought to be.
York Times endorsed Lamont partly because Lieberman “has shown no
interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the
administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons” (Notice the “how”
in that statement, the Times is no longer debating whether
the President lied). Al Gore, who chose Lieberman as his running mate
the year the Supreme Court stole his victory (and possibly his Internet
patent), has refused to endorse him in the current primary. Respected
Democratic senators have also insisted that they will support Lamont, the winner
of the Democratic primary, even if Lieberman runs as an
independent, as it now appears he will do.
their support for a party asset such as Lieberman, Democrats have hung
his scalp on the wall with a message that any efforts at bipartisanship
that do no specifically boost the party will be punished with the utmost
severity. If not even someone with the magnitude of Lieberman is allowed
to escape the strict limits of the party’s ideological scope in order to
ensure the nation’s security, one cannot help but wonder where the
Democrats’ priorities are, and importantly, what type of breed the
Democrats are fostering at the lower levels of the nation’s political
tree as we enter an era of severe national security threats
that necessitate less politicking and more patriotism.
© 2006 North Star
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