Jack Kelly: Lefties target Lieberman

The last of the Democratic hawks presents a challenge for bloggers

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High noon approaches for the moonbats. We'll soon know if they'll sit above the salt at the Democratic table, or be exiled to the outer darkness.

Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (jkelly@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1476).

High noon is Aug. 8, the date of the Connecticut primary. The "netroots" gang of left-liberal Web loggers have picked a fight they must win, or suffer a potentially catastrophic loss of face.

In Connecticut's Democratic primary, three-term incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman is being opposed by millionaire businessman Ned Lamont in a race in which there is essentially only one issue: Sen. Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq.

Sen. Lieberman is leading in the polls, but Mr. Lamont is gaining. Sen. Lieberman evidently fears Mr. Lamont may overtake him, because he has begun circulating petitions to run as an independent.

Mr. Lamont's candidacy was encouraged by the left-liberal blogs, in particular Daily Kos, the Web site of Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.

The bloggers have had unkind things to say about Sen. Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000. Among the printable appellations have been: liar, weasel, wanker, scum, warmonger and traitor.

Journalists who are lazy, biased or both describe Sen. Lieberman as a "moderate," but this is not so. He's voted their way 76 percent of the time throughout his career, 80 percent of the time last year, say the (very) liberal Americans for Democratic Action.

Sen. Lieberman has opposed every major domestic initiative of the Bush administration. He's against tax cuts and a ban on gay marriage; for partial-birth abortion, and as green as the most rabid environmentalist could hope for.

What Sen. Lieberman is is a liberal hawk. There used to be many such in the Democratic aviary. Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson and (especially) Scoop Jackson all were liberal hawks. They've largely been replaced by chickens. Aside from Sen. Lieberman, it's hard to think of a prominent Democrat who could be called a hawk today.

To the Kossacks, Sen. Lieberman compounds the sin of hawkishness with the sin of civility. Though he opposes President Bush on virtually every issue except the war, he doesn't hate Mr. Bush, and does search for grounds for compromise.

And that's the rub for the Kossacks. At a Lamont debate party July 6, the complaint he heard most was about the embrace Sen. Lieberman and President Bush shared after the 2005 State of the Union address, said the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti.

The Kossacks tend to share the view expressed by the New Republic's Jonathan Chait, who said in a recent op-ed that President Bush is a greater danger to America than Osama bin Laden.

Most in the Democratic establishment regard the Kossacks as a force to be reckoned with. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid; Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean; and presidential hopefuls Mark Warner, Wesley Clark, Tom Vilsack and Bill Richardson were among the dignitaries who attended a conference Kos sponsored in Las Vegas in June.

Every Democrat in the Senate with presidential ambitions (save "Slow Joe" Biden of Delaware) has said he or she will support Mr. Lamont over Sen. Lieberman in the general election, if Mr. Lamont wins the primary.

But there is reason to doubt all-out war with the GOP is popular with the centrists who (usually) decide elections. None of the candidates endorsed by Markos Moulitsas has yet defeated a Republican.

The Internet has given lefty bloggers and the Democratic politicos intimidated by them an exaggerated sense of their strength, said the Web logger Silflay Hraka:

"Say one 10-member anti-globalist organization in San Francisco comes into contact with another 10-member group in Seattle. Each feels that their membership and political power has doubled, when in fact nothing of the sort has occurred. Communication ... is enhanced, but the actual number of votes has not changed at all."

The Connecticut primary will separate fantasy from reality, Mr. Hraka said:

"If the Leftnet cannot elect a candidate of their own choosing in a Democratic primary in one of the most liberal states in the union, then they can't win elections, period," he said.

If Mr. Lamont wins the primary, Kos and his cohorts may realize their ambition of being the new godfathers in the Democratic Party. But if Sen. Lieberman wins, then the Democratic nominee for president in 2008 may be he or she who most vociferously denounces the moonbats.

My prediction: Turnout at next year's "YearlyKos" -- if it's held at all -- will be paltry indeed.


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