Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Primary campaign against Lieberman heats upPosted by Bob Brigham
In an extraordinary encounter last week with members of the Democratic State Central Committee, the senator was forced to defend his hawkish record by Myrna Watanabe, Harwinton's town chairwoman.
Watanabe, a professional science writer who took notes on the exchange, told Lieberman that while she appreciated his "very good" voting record, she wanted to know how she could present him for re-election in her town when "our people are pretty pacifistic" and were opposed the war in Iraq "from the beginning," when "our people don't support Rice," and when "they are most unhappy with Gonzales."
She said Lieberman responded that he does what he believes is right, that he didn't want the war to be used as a litmus test, and finally that he didn't have to come to Harwinton. [...]
Watanabe said she was unsatisfied when Lieberman concluded that they had had a "difference of opinion." She subsequently wrote him saying it was more like a "gaping chasm between you and the state party's rank-and-file."
"Your 70 percent approval rating will do you no good in getting the party's nomination if our Democratic town committees refuse to support you," she warned.
Lieberman's voting record:
In the last three months, Lieberman has sided with the president's stated position on five votes and disagreed on just one, according to VoteTracker, a nonpartisan subscription service that follows every vote cast in both houses of Congress. [...]
The president doesn't take a position on every bill before the Senate, but the Republican majority certainly does. So far in the 109th Congress, Lieberman has agreed with the opposition on 17 votes and disagreed on 63.
His stands with the Republicans included his vote against California Sen. Barbara Boxer's objection to certifying the results of the 2004 presidential election, which failed 74-1, as well as his vote to invoke cloture in the debate over the bankruptcy bill, which passed 69-31.
Lieberman's votes with the Republican majority included his votes on the Rice, Gonzales, and Chertoff nominations, the class action bill, and the genetic information bill.
But it is his words that embarrass Democrats:
Lieberman's toughest critics, however, say he has become not so much embarrassed as traitorous at a critical time when Republicans -- and very partisan Republicans at that -- control both the White House and the Congress.
Many point to the much-publicized kiss Bush planted on Lieberman's cheek on the night of his state of the union address in January as the most poignant symbol of the senator's fealty to the president.
John M. Orman, a Fairfield University political science professor who recently announced his intention to mount a Democratic primary campaign, says he's also disgusted with Lieberman's support of Bush's claim that Social Security is in "crisis" and with the senator's support for the invasion of Iraq.
Citing a statewide poll from last year that showed slightly more Republicans supported Lieberman than Democrats, Orman branded him a "Republicrat" who might as well switch parties.
"He calls it being a New Democrat or a DLC Democrat," the professor said, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, which Lieberman helped to create.
"But in a Democratic primary, that's what the Democrats' rank-and-file will have to decide. Are we a party of accommodation or of opposition? I believe we must be a party of opposition."
"Lieberman, for example, was just on national television with Chris Shays," Orman added, referring to the Republican congressman from Connecticut's 5th District. "Shays was arguing that the Congress had gone too far in the Schiavo case, and Joe Lieberman was there talking almost like Tom DeLay."
It isn't just words that have create the "gaping chasm" between Lieberman and Democrats, it is also the blood on Lieberman's hands:
It may be Lieberman's early and continued support for the invasion of Iraq, however, that has drawn the most wrath from Connecticut Democrats, including some party leaders.
The lead Democratic co-sponsor of the Gulf War resolution in 1991, Lieberman joined Republican John McCain in 1998 to introduce the Iraq Liberation Act, which made the "liberation" of that country U.S. policy. He later became the lead sponsor of a 2002 resolution authorizing Bush to use force, if necessary, to disarm Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Lieberman's corporate donors may be able to buy him the seat for another six years, but the boos he will hear whenever he takes the stage he's earned on his own.