If Lieberman is really a moderate, then what does the word mean?

Forgive me if I ramble. Forgive me if I rant.

As the Connecticut primary between Joe Lieberman and challenger Ned Lamont has hotted up in recent weeks, there’s been a repeated attempt by Dem spokesfolks and media types alike to frame Lieberman as a moderate. Well, maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. (What the heck is a moderate, anyway? Is it the same as a centrist? Is it an actual position or merely an average of the positions held? Does it suggest principle or a lack of principles? And so on. Here’s one interesting take.) In the interest of fairness, I refer you to this analysis, which suggests that Lieberman is more progressive than his detractors would have you believe.

Maybe what this all points up is just how damned far we’ve swung to the right – if this man is a moderate, then the gods save us from the conservatives? Or maybe it points up the incredible uselessness of labels. For instance, I’m seeing a lot of crap lately that conflates a legislator’s stance on the Iraq war with his/her hawk/dovishness, suggesting that Dems aren’t doing themselves or the country any favors by being anti-war.

Well, this is patently stupid. Whether you’re pro-war is a whole ‘nother issue from whether you’re pro-this war. I’ve never been accused (at least not by anybody who was paying the slightest bit of attention) of being a dove. Been accused of being too willing to support military activity, in fact. I was fine with stomping the Taliban (although I had no faith that this administration could get it right – I’d say I told you so if I thought predicting that Rummy & Co. would hutz it up took an IQ above 80).

However, I’ve been anti-Operation Whaq Iraq from the git-go. If you’re having trouble parsing how this could be, let me simplify: there are good reasons to go to war (look up Dec. 7, 1941 on Wikipedia for a good example). And there are bad reasons to go to war. And there are times when there’s just no reason to go to war. Iraq was a stupid, ill-conceived, misguided, corrupt enterprise from the outset, and it has gone just about as predicted (go here and work your way through 2003 if you don’t believe me).

So let’s stop pretending that our stances on war and our stances on the Iraq war have any real relationship to each other or the issues at hand. Senator Lullabypit would be rather the open-minded pragmatist on the question of war generally, but would have voted against every damned Iraq war resolution that came before the Congress.

Back to Joe. While I’ll defer to the statistics in the article noted above, I would also call your attention to this graf:

Other critics point to Lieberman’s failure to back a filibuster of the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., his willingness to consider privatizing Social Security, his support of Catholic hospitals denying emergency contraceptives to rape victims and his opposition to same-sex marriage as reason to vote against him.

Hmmm. I’m tempted to toss his history on the abortion issue into the mix, but in truth I’d actually be encouraged to find that he was legitimately conflicted on the question.

A commenter on a post at The Moderate Voice chimes in thusly:

Joe Lieberman has supported George Bush on domestic spying, suspension of due process, creation of an extra-judicial prison system, the conduct of the war in Iraq, the threat of war against Iran, downplayed the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, praised Alberto Gonzales in his nomination proceedings and suggested that those who disagree publicly with the administration are endangering the country. On the most important issues of the day he is securely in George Bush’s camp. How is he a centrist?

Hmmm. Perhaps this writer oversimplifies a tad, but isn’t the take fair enough in principle?

We’ll see what the upshot is this evening when the polls close. And then we’ll see what the Dem braintrust (I can’t use that term without giggling, btw) makes of the result. In any case, I’d like for everybody to think a little before they trot out “moderate” from now on. Being in favor of an equal number of fringe left and fringe right policies doesn’t make you a moderate on average. Being somewhere between Ted Kennedy and Dubya makes you lonely, probably, but it doesn’t signal anything meaningful to a voter looking for an intelligent, moderated voice. And being wrong on both sides of various questions just makes you an idiot. We need to think about this, because it’s going to matter from now until November 2008.

And a quick word for Hillary. Being for the Iraq War and against Grand Theft Auto doesn’t make you a moderate. It makes you a bozo. Whatever you’re going to stand for, let’s get serious, shall we?



6 thoughts on “If Lieberman is really a moderate, then what does the word mean?

  1. I don’t see why being a moderate is so desired by Democrats anyway. To me, moderate just means “a tad bit more liberal than the Republicans.”
    I really wish the Democratic Party would grow a spine.
    Also, until Lieberman takes a definitive pro-choice stand on abortion, he is not a progressive.

  2. Yes, exactly. I don’t think he should be calling himself a Democrat when he takes conversative stances so often. That said, I think we need a new “liberal” party in America. The Democrats aren’t cutting it. Our choices are conservative and a little less conservative. WTF? That’s not democracy.

  3. This is why I have said I’d like to see what we’d do with a Parliamentary system. Center Left (Clinton), Center Right (McCain, Dole), Hard Left (Kennedy), Wide Right (90% of current GOP), Greens, etc. Make them fight for a coalition and assure that fringe voices are represented by fringe numbers in the government.

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