Today is primary day in Connecticut, where incumbent Democratic senator and former vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman is in danger of being knocked off by a leftist challenger from within his own party. The main issue – practically the only issue – of that race has been Lieberman's support of the Iraq war.
I like Joe Lieberman. On almost every issue, he has taken a position about where I do, and stuck with it. I was delighted when Al Gore put him on the ticket in 2000, and lament daily that they lost the presidential election by one crucial vote. If Al Gore and Joe Lieberman had been in the White House, 9/11 probably still would have happened. In the aftermath, though, the United States would have led the world in a successful coalition war to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan and attempt to create a democratic society there – or at least a country in which women could learn to read and the national soccer stadium would not be used for daily hangings. And we would not have invaded Iraq and squandered the world sympathy that we had, even in much of the Muslim world.
But that is water over the dam. The Supreme Court gave us their choice for president, which in turn gave us the Bush family's choice of war. And now we are stuck with it. We have to stay in Iraq until we can build up some kind of viable regime. The alternative is sheer chaos and genocidal civil war, at the end of which a new dictator would arise combining the brutality of Saddam Hussein with the insane zeal of Osama bin Laden. That is why Democrats like Joe Lieberman, and I, believe we still have to fight this foolish war that the Decider – who is clearly not the Think-it-Througher – has gotten us into.
I am very disappointed with Senator Lieberman's petulant refusal to support the party nominee if he loses today, vowing to run as an independent if the Democratic voters turn him out. Still, I have voted for independent Connecticut centrists who left their party before. Lowell Weicker left the party of Reagan to run for senator when I was in graduate school. I also am saddened the way Joe Lieberman dumped his first wife, a story I had not heard until this current stink. The Lieberman race has split the Gruntled household, as the earlier Weicker race did. This time, none of us are Connecticut voters, so our argument is more hypothetical.
Readers younger than I am might wonder at the title of this blog. Senator Lieberman resembles actor Ray Walston, who played the title character in the silly Sixties sit-com "My Favorite Martian," which I enjoyed as a child. I often think of the show when I see Lieberman on television, and can imagine a pair of antennae rising from his head while he is making the most serious pronouncements.
I heard David Brooks say that he wished there were a John McCain/Joe Lieberman party. I agree with that. Joe Lieberman's stands on the major national issues –- including this tar baby of Bush's war – is right. I would rather have him in the U.S. Senate than out of it.