In a perverse way, conservative Republicans and liberal doves have a shared interest in making Lieberman the symbol of the Democratic hawk. Dovish lefties want everybody to think that if you're a hawk, you must be cozy with Bush. Conservatives want everybody to think that if you're not cozy with Bush, you can't be a hawk.Chait is writing as if the election of a senator in Connecticut is a debate about the meaning of the Democratic Party. But the people of the state are choosing their senator, after a primary that took place in the dead of summer produced a 10,ooo gap between the two best candidates. As they go into fall and start concentrating on recomposing Congress, they've got Lamont (an inexperienced politician who ran to the left), an irrelevant Republican, and Joe, their long-time senator. Why shouldn't the fall campaign season offer them a full-scale comparison between Lieberman and Lamont?
Still, the Lieberman rationale held together, just barely, as long as he was fighting the good fight within the Democratic Party. But now that he's running as an independent, the last pillars of that rationale have crumbled.
What's the point of running to uphold Democratic hawkishness when you're running against the Democratic Party and its chosen nominee? Lieberman is fighting on terrain that, from the perspective of the liberal hawks, could not be less advantageous.
But looking at the national debate about the meaning of the Democratic Party, I really want Lieberman to get it together and fight for the life of the liberal hawk. We desperately need that now. Say what you want about his pillars and his terrain, he is where he is and he's got to fight there. Show us what a good hawk is. A good Democratic hawk, even it the loudest Democrats don't want there to be such a thing.