Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 9, 2006
Red? Blue? How 'Bout Red, White & Blue?

Unless you've been living under a rock for a couple months, or are so apolitical that I advise you to stop reading this post right now, you know that Joe Lieberman's been in the political fight of his life against an outsider, Ned Lamont, for the Connecticut Democratic Nomination for the Senate.

And unless you went out and got hammered last night, passed out at 8:00, and slept in this morning to nurse your hangover, you also know that Lamont won.

I'm not gonna go off on a ideologically driven political rant here at Crank's site, nor am I gonna try to make a bigger point about the War, right vs. left, or even the balance of party power in the Senate. There are plenty of sites doing so (in fact, my post on this topic on my own blog gets a little deeper into such issues, if you're interested).

I'm neither Democrat nor Republican, so I'm not really interested in those topics.

What interests me is the ability of American voters to get their message across. Whether right or left, I think we can all agree that things aren't perfect in America right now. Whether one's shibboleths revolve around the so-called Culture Wars, the fiscal profligacy both parties engage in, the monetary shenanigans of the ostensibly independent Federal Reserve; the War in Iraq and our inability to either win outright or withdraw honorably & intelligently; concerns over Executive Power; worries about Judicial Power; the list goes on and on.

And I challenge anyone -- left or right, Democrat or Republican -- to think of a time in their politically sentient lives when they felt that Capitol Hill was pulling less weight than now. A time when our political leaders were as far out-of-touch with the electorate than now.

And, to me, Joe Lieberman is a symbol of that failure. Not because he's a "conservative" Democrat, not because he supports the war, or is pro-choice, or because he's a God-fearing man. Oh, I have my opinions about those things, believe me. And they'd be enough to convince me of his relative worth, or lack thereof, as a candidate.

But more importantly, he's shown a capricious disregard for the will of the elctorate.

I know a primary doesn't represent the entire electorate. But Lieberman has never before rejected the support of his party, he's never expressed any interest in "going it alone." Yet, last night, following his defeat, he "conceded" by declaring:

For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand.

(Emphasis added). There's your fealty to country. There's your loyalty to his constituents. And, while hardly a respectable trait in my opinion, there's the loyalty to party that so many seem to value.

The man is out for himself, and obviously the "patrons" who've supported him in the past (and may again do so in November should he run). I want officials who put the country ahead of themselves.

By the way, Joe wasn't the only incumbent to go down in flames last night: moderate Michigan Republican, Joe Schwartz, lost to a more conservative opponent, Tim Walberg, in his House primary; and Cynthia McKinney lost her Democratic House primary to a less-insane candidate, Hank Johnson (which says little, as Mel Gibson's slightly more sane than Cynthia).

And you know what, I like both those results too, even though it should be clear that I'm not a Walberg fan (to the degree I know much about him, which admittedly I don't). Why? Schwartz had the support of the Adminstration. I want outsiders who'll challenge the status quo. Are Walberg & Johnson the answer? I dunno. But unlike Schwartz & McKinney, we know they might do something other than play politics-as-usual.

Finally, I'm aware that many (if not most) of Crank's readers are conservative, and probably Republican. That's fine. But as a fellow American, I hope we all vote for the candidates that mean to do something to get us back on track, even if only a little bit: balance the budget, return balance to the tripartite government, demand accountability from the Fed, follow the Constitution. Whatever your particular issue.

But we're gonna need new blood on Capitol Hill to pull it off.

* * *

Unless I've horribly misunderstood his e-mail of last week, Crank should be back tomorrow. (Ok, you don't have to cheer that loud, do you? This hasn't been that bad, has it?).

I've enjoyed this guest blogging stint a lot, and I hope you enjoyed reading what I had to say as well. I'll continue to comment here on Crank's posts, and I hope some of you decide to come check out my site from time-to-time.

Thanks.

Posted by Mike Rogers at 7:40 AM | Politics 2006 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I'm not sure that I understand your position. On the one hand you seem to be in favor of those who will not play politics as usual. At the same time you applaud the defeat of McKinney (and she didn't do anything "as usual"). Was McKinney not an outsider who'd challenge the status quo? I can think of no better example in this country.

I hope that I don't come across as pro-McKinney. But I don't agree with your anti-incumbent message. I'd rather keep the good ones and dump the bad ones. You can argue that Lieberman was not a great Senator, but the reasoning should be expanded beyond just the fact that he's an incumbent and out for himself (give me the name of one politician who isn't).

Posted by: Aryeh at August 9, 2006 9:28 AM

Lieberman should have been able to pretty easily defuse the insurgency against him in Connecticut, if he had recognized it and taken it seriously months ago. The fact that he didn't indicates to me that he'd lost touch with his constituency (particularly in light of the fact that he was beaten despite a very high turnout). When that happens, I think you deserve to lose, regardless of your rightness or wrongness on the issues.

Posted by: Jerry at August 9, 2006 9:53 AM

Atyeh-

Fair point re McKinney. I was including her in my "incumbents" grouping because, well, she's an incumbent. Also because her two year absence notwithstanding, someone who's been on Capitol Hill since the early 90's is hardly an outsider.

And my second issue with McKinney helps me respond to your other critique: at some point, a candidate's character & ideology have to come into play. If a Klansman opposed Hillary for the NY Senate seat, I'd probably vote for her, much as I despise her, and as much as she represents that which I've been railing against.

Specifically, McKinney didn't make the "Jews, J-E-W-S, are to blame for everything" comment; her father did. But I'm unaware of her coming out, without qualification, to distance herself from it. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

As to the details of my anti-incumbent message, it contains more specifics than I wrote about above. But again, out of respect for the obvious political differences between me & many of Crank's readers, I opted against going into detail here.

That said, scroll down to my post yesterday. Both Ron Paul & John Murtha are incumbents, and one's a Dem, the other GOP (though he's an admitted outsider in his own party). And I'd vote for either of them if I could.

Posted by: Mike at August 9, 2006 9:57 AM

Mike -
If I understand your point correctly- Throw Them All Out - this may be one of the few times you and I are on the same page. The world must be coming to and end. You are right about our elected officials being out of touch with the average person in the country. What is really strange to me is that the White House seems to be more in touch with the pulse of the nation that the Senate and maybe even the House. For all of the flack the President has taken for going his own way, it is often the way of the majority in the country.

Posted by: maddirishman at August 9, 2006 10:45 AM

But Lieberman has never before rejected the support of his party, he's never expressed any interest in "going it alone."

Not quite true. He announced a few weeks ago that he would run as an Independent Democrat if he lost the primary. Probably cost him some support, too.

Posted by: John Thacker at August 9, 2006 10:49 AM

My my, we're "absolute" today! As Hamlet said, "We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us."

John-

Of course Joe made that announcement; it's the number one issue that's hung over the campaign for weeks now.

When I said that he "never before rejected the support of his party" I was referring to the years-and-years before his recent conversion to the world of Independence.

Posted by: Mike at August 9, 2006 11:13 AM

When I vote I look for first and foremost, integrity in a candidate. Whether you like Joe Lieberman or disagree with him - you have to respect his integrity to stick with an issue in which he believes strongly - staying the course in Iraq. His party disagrees with him (now they do); and he paid the price. In my opinion - those are the type of people you want in office. I don't see how you can possibly say he didn't put his country's interests ahead of his own - as it would certainly have been a more shrewd political move to not support the president and the war on terror to the extent he has.

Posted by: Marko at August 9, 2006 1:46 PM

Marko-

That's a legitimate point if one believes Joe was guided his sense of right & wrong. I agree with you completely, in theory.

But I don't believe that he was. Perhaps I'm wrong; I won't sit here and say I know what's in his mind. But everything he's done and said recently looks like the maneuverings of a political opportunist, seeing himself on the ropes.

And . . . with the country split so evenly on so many issues, I think he just backed the wrong horse. I think he honestly believed that Connecticut voters would back him on his stance re Terror/The War/Bush.

Posted by: Mike at August 9, 2006 1:57 PM

And I challenge anyone -- left or right, Democrat or Republican -- to think of a time in their politically sentient lives when they felt that Capitol Hill was pulling less weight than now. A time when our political leaders were as far out-of-touch with the electorate than now.

Seems to have become a talking point. The period 1976-1980 immediately comes to mind, but in reality I don't think any time is particulalry unique. How about this, name a time when congress or our political leadership demonstrated they were in touch with the electorate. How about on the eve of every election. 8^)

Out of touch with whom? And anyway, we have representative government. If people don't like their representative they can vote their asses out of office. Seems as if that's pretty rare though, so what's real about all this? Its sausage making you know, the way our government works (or doesn't work as the case may be). I've about decided nothing happens they don't all agree on anyway.

Have you ever watched the Senate on CSPAN and seen them standing around waiting for something to pass or fail so they can change their vote and still have the desired result?

As far as executive vs legislative vs judicial power that tug of war has gone on ever since the country was founded. In my lifetime in the 1960's congress started snatching up executive powers and continued through the 70's. Ever since 1980 presidents have been trying to pull it back - every one. And the judiciary has been running amok from a separation of powers perspective for about 70 years now. There's nothing new about any of that.

Our system was designed to be that way. It has always been that way, and politicians have behaved the way they do now my whole life. In microcosm at any given time it looks pretty pitiful but hey it seems to work pretty damn well over time.

I don't know what's going on with the Dems and Lieberman. I always thought Lieberman was too whiny but I respected him because he seemed to be pretty honest. And he's hardly conservative, he's voted against the partial birth abortion ban 6 times - he has 100% NARAL rating - he voted against the balanced budget ammendment and on and on.

Its amazing to me that people are calling him disloyal when in fact their chief complaint is he's too loyal - too loyal to his position that the war was right. Loyalty? Lieberman was the Dem VP candidate 6 years ago and last week people calling themselves democrats were photoshopping up disgusting images of him giving Bush blow jobs and in gay bondage scenes, putting him in blackface and writing about the "Lieberyouth".

Whatever. He's not my Senator and if his constituents don't want him that's their business. If he runs as an independant they can vote for his opponent. Him running as an independant doesn't make him disloyal, it would be extremely easy to make the case that it is precisely the opposite. And senators aren't supposed to be representative of their constituents by design in any case - they're supposed to represent states as a whole. It wasn't that long ago they weren't even directly elected. The upper house was designed to lead, not follow the whims of public opinion.

Posted by: Dwilkers at August 9, 2006 5:54 PM

This is the form of government we have:

In the 2000, 2002 & 2004 Congress elections 1180 incumbents ran for re-election. 15 (1.29%) lost.
The system is bent beyond all recognition.
The first thing we need is an independent watchdog to keep the pols honest. they sure as hell aren't going to police themselves.

Posted by: John O'Neill at August 9, 2006 7:05 PM

Dwilkers-

I can't argue with a word you said. All true. But it's a matter of perspective. You think we're witnessing a cycle in American politics.

You may be right.

John notes that things are utterly out of whack lately.

He may be right too. I agree with him.

Posted by: Mike at August 9, 2006 7:36 PM

First, I think Lieberman realized that, if he is no longer a senator, he is going to have to get a real job.

Second, I always felt that the public regarded congress as out of touch, except THEIR OWN congressman.

The republicans claiming that the Dems don't get it when Bush wants to enlarge the power of the executive branch. Those are the same sort of people who complained when FDR did the same thing, and for the same reason: the nation was in a crisis. Then the Depression and the war; now Terror. When Congress does its traditional adbication of power, generally after flexing its muscle, it becomes the president's turn to do so.

Jefferson's original intent was for the farmers of the nation to serve a term or two, then go back to planting. As I posted previously, vote everyone out.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at August 9, 2006 10:10 PM

Mike,

I agree that it was a good thing that certain voters were able to get their message across, and I agree that Congress is a bit dysfunctional right now to say the least.

But if you are looking for someone who can buck the status quo, isn't a guy that says he's a Democrat but has the guts to stick with the president on the war on terror/Iraq the type of person you are looking for?

By the way, thanks for filling in for the Crank, and the only thing I am going to hold against you is that you are a Mets fan!

Posted by: Tom G at August 9, 2006 10:40 PM

Wow-thank God Crank is back. That is a silly post.

Posted by: John Salmon at August 13, 2006 9:33 PM
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