Here is William Rivers Pitt on the loss last night by Lieberman to Lamont in CT.
It Wasn't About the War
By William Rivers Pitt
Wednesday 09 July 2006
At 8:52 p.m. on Tuesday night, the report came in that Senator Joseph Lieberman had lost his home precinct in the Connecticut primary. Just after 9:00 p.m., the talking heads on Fox News began telling their viewers that Lieberman was finished. Just after 11:00 p.m., Lieberman stepped to the podium to congratulate Ned Lamont on his victory. Lieberman, with this loss, became only the fourth incumbent Senator in all of American history to be beaten in a primary.
Moments after congratulating Lamont, however, Lieberman announced his intention to abandon the Democratic party and run as an Independent in the general election. He spouted sad lines deploring partisan politics - one wonders how partisan politics are possible within a one-party primary - and sounded for all the world like the Republican-in-sheep's-clothing the Left has been painting him as for several years now.
It was, in the end, a disgusting display.
The noise levels from the media's chattering classes will spike for a few days with this result. The bloggers won the election for Lamont, they'll say. The Loony Left is taking over the Democratic party, they'll say. It was all about the war, they'll say. As ever, the shortest distance between two points, as far as the news media is concerned, will be the dumbest, simplest answer possible.
It wasn't about the war. Not all of it. Iraq, of course, was the central motivating factor. Connecticut is a predominantly Democratic state, and some 80% of Democrats strongly oppose the occupation. The news out of Iraq has been uniformly dismal, and it was impossible to forget the manner in which Lieberman had stapled himself to George W. Bush and his collapsing war plan. This was the Democratic Senator, recall, who warned us all that criticizing Bush was terribly dangerous to the country. He said that only a few months ago.
Columnist Joe Conason weighed in as the polls closed. "The fundamental argument of the propagandists," wrote Conason, "is that opposition to the war in Iraq represents an obsession of the far-left fringe, and that the Democrats will be destroyed by any attempt to extricate our troops from the quicksand. That claim is easily refuted by every reputable survey of public opinion over the past year. Support for the Bush administration's conduct of the war, and for the President himself, has been declining steadily, in fact, since the end of 2004. And every anchorperson, pundit and squawking head seeking to suggest otherwise is either inexcusably ignorant or purposely lying."
There was more to it than Iraq, however. Lieberman's voting record has been, for the most part, right between the Democratic yardsticks over his 18-year tenure. But he has blown it on a number of notable occasions. Lieberman supported the disastrous Bankruptcy Bill, following a pro-corporate voting record that made him Enron's favorite Democrat.
William Greider's seminal article "Enron Democrats" tells the tale. "His most important crusade," wrote Greider of Lieberman, "was protecting the loopy accounting for corporate stock options. Nervous regulators recognized early on that the profusion of stock options had the potential to deceive investors while cheating the tax system - illusions that could drive company stock prices to impossible heights. Yet when employees eventually cashed in the options, the companies claimed them as tax deductions. This two-way mirror is symptomatic of the deceptive bookkeeping that permeated corporate affairs during the boom and the bubble."
"Back in 1993," continued Greider, "when the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed to stop it, Lieberman went to war. 'I believe that the global pre-eminence of America's vital technological industries could be damaged by the proposal,' he warned. The FASB, he insinuated, was politically motivated or simply didn't grasp the bright promise of the New Economy. Lieberman organized a series of letters warning the accountants' board to stop its meddling. In the Senate, he mobilized a resolution urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to squelch the reform. It passed 88 to 9. The regulators backed off - and stock prices soared on the inflated earnings reports. Whenever FASB tried to reopen the issue, Lieberman jumped them again. He was well rewarded by Silicon Valley and auditing firms."
It wasn't just the war. It was a long, slow slide that eventually tipped Lieberman's applecart. It was a process of insinuation into the cash-and-carry culture of Washington, DC. It was a series of astonishingly bad votes on incredibly important issues. It was, above all, political cowardice; Lieberman attached himself to Bush while Bush was riding high, and was unable to extract himself as Bush's popularity collapsed.
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out from here. Big-time Democrats like Senators Lautenberg, Clinton, Obama and Feingold have signaled their intention to support the Democratic nominee from Connecticut. If the GOP pulls the same kind of trick we see in Pennsylvania - funneling cash to the third-party candidate to undercut the Democratic candidate - it will come to light, and Lieberman will be hard-pressed to defend himself.
This was historic. Opposition to the war was the main issue in this primary, and it was proven to be a winning issue. The effect upon the upcoming midterms will be dynamic. Several Democratic hopefuls will have to do some tall stepping to get around their own Lieberman-like positions on Iraq if they hope to have a shot at the Oval Office in 2008. The media will, of course, blast them for flip-flopping, thus undercutting their nascent campaigns. In short, the deck has been shuffled by Ned Lamont.
Do not think this was all about the war, however. Joseph Lieberman has been constructing this petard for some time now, out of a variety of disparate pieces. On Tuesday night, he was hoist with it. Time will tell what it will all mean for the rest of us.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.