The most endangered species in Washington may well be the moderate.
Consider the long knives pointed at the heart of Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The Connecticut Democrat-turned-independent (but caucusing with the
Dems) announced that he would not support Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid's plan to pass Obamacare by allowing Americans who are 55 or older
to buy into Medicare. Given that Medicare is, as Lieberman put it, "on
the verge of insolvency," he made the right call and for that, the
left wing of his party has savaged Joe the Senator as a sellout and
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told Politico.com, "No individual should
hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I'll say it flat
out, I think he ought to be recalled." There is no mechanism for
recalling a U.S. senator. As a congresswoman, DeLauro really ought to
But wait there's more. Liberal blogger Jane Hamsher wrote an open
letter on her website, firedoglake.com, that called on the Susan G.
Komen breast-cancer charity to fire Lieberman's wife, Hadassah, as its
"global ambassador." Another Firedoglake blogger called on Hollywood
celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, James Wood and more to join its "dump
Hadassah Lieberman" campaign. They sling mud likes it's buckshot: First,
they sully Lieberman, then his wife, and now they're trashing a
breast-cancer charity for its "conflict of interest."
In their zeal, the left-wing furies freely ignore the facts. Well after
10 other Senate Democrats had written to Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid to voice their concerns that a Medicare buy-in would hurt their
states financially and limit health-care access for seniors, Moveon.org
sent out a fundraising appeal that claimed, "Joe Lieberman is
single-handedly gutting health care reform."
And: "Lieberman can't be allowed to stay in the U.S. Senate." Make no
mistake about where the fringies are trying to push the Democratic Party
as far to the left as some conservatives have worked to muscle the
GOP to the right.
Granted, both parties need the commitment of their true believers. But
parties do not grow when their bases try to ostracize and isolate those
deemed to be ideologically impure. Politics is a numbers game, people,
not a virginity test.
Indeed, it was liberal Ned Lamont's successful 2006 primary challenge of
Lieberman that drove Lieberman to run and win not as a Democrat,
but as an independent.
Now there is talk of Lieberman running for re-election as a Republican.
Lieberman coyly told CNN he was "unlikely" to do so, but he didn't slam
the door on the idea either. If those who see the senator as a DINO
(Democrat in Name Only) get their way, they will chase Lieberman into
the GOP's loving arms.
Where does it end? Look to the California Legislature a study in
polar dysfunction. Republicans who reluctantly voted for tax hikes have
faced recalls or lost leadership posts, while a Democrat who voted
against Speaker Karen Bass on the state budget lost her Capitol office.
The state's leaders can't balance the budget, but they sure can punish
GOP strategist Allan Hoffenblum figured he could count maybe four
moderate lawmakers who would dare cross their party's dogma. Sacramento,
he quipped, is "Disneyland for ideologues."
And if the folks at Moveon and Firedoglake have their way, Washington will follow.