Lieberman Lost. Here's Why.
Readers respond to David Brooks's Aug. 10 column, "Party No. 3"
David Whitehouse, Hebron, Conn.: I was struck by how much your interpretation of the Ned Lamont win differed from what I see here in Connecticut. First, I don't think Ned Lamont is a flaming liberal; he's a successful businessman whose views on the Iraq war are shared by many retired generals and foreign policy experts. Also, when I've seen him speak over the past several weeks, he's focused more on local issues than on the war.
When I talk to friends and family about Joe Lieberman, there is a broad agreement that he's become too distant from the state and has become increasingly arrogant. The final straw for me was his decision to file as an independent rather than to fully engage in the primary. He had all the advantages of incumbency and party support but he ran a terrible campaign and just didn't seem to care.
My last point is that, for all Lieberman's talk of bipartisanship, I haven't seen the president or the Republicans in the Senate respond in kind. Lieberman supported them on many issues but I don't think he as able to bring about any change. What's been missing over the past years has been real congressional leadership and oversight — Democrat and Republican.
Brian Dunstan, Seattle: The primary in Connecticut was decided based on Iraq. The reason Lieberman lost was that he disagreed with his constituents — nothing more, nothing less. Now that 60 percent of Americans oppose the Iraq war, those 60 percent will have a chance to throw out of office those politicians who disagree with them about the war. Lamont is not an extremist — he just insists on representing the views of his constituents.
Mark Braly, Davis, Calif.: Yes, by all means, replace the partisan fanatics with moderates able to collaborate on matters of national interest. But this party can't be based on support for the Iraq war, the nation's greatest strategic blunder since Vietnam.
Chris Auth, Riverton, N.J.: I find your columns disturbing because they are so disingenuous. Mr. Lieberman lost not because of some histrionic minority in the Democratic party, but because he supports a totally unnecessary war in Iraq. The majority of voters in the primary, most of whom are just regular people and not rabid ideologues, are against the war and are angry at Mr. Lieberman for his unwavering support of President Bush.
As I am sure you know, most Americans are against the war and want our troops out of there. The Democratic voters in Connecticut are no different. You and other neoconservatives need to come clean with the American people. The reason we are in Iraq is not because of weapons of mass destruction or as part of the war on terrorism; it is because we want to control Iraq's oil supply and we want to make the Middle East safe for Israel. The Muslims don't hate us because they are jealous of us or because they hate freedom, as you would maintain, but because of our meddling in the affairs of their countries and because of our unwavering support of Israel, no matter what that country does.
Jim Vermeulen, Syracuse, N.Y.: Mr. Brooks is once again chastising the effect of a condition he has consistently supported or condoned. I don't recall him decrying the aggression and stridency of right-wing politicians in the past 10 years, or the assault on constitutional checks and balances by the Bush administration. The “middle” in American politics was destroyed by the actions of Republican right, not the Democratic left.
Yes, a number of Connecticut voters are not going to take it anymore — anymore, in this case, represented by a Democrat who too often thinks and acts like a conservative Republican. And who can blame these voters?
Carl J. Britton, Jr., Littleton, Mass.: The problem with your analysis is that there isn't a great divide in this country between the radical right and the radical left. Pushed by the Republican Party, our government — but not the citizenry — has moved so dramatically to the right in the past 25 years that we now have a divide between the hyper-radical right and the radical middle. …John McCain and Joe Lieberman are conservatives — or at least they would have been considered conservatives 25 years ago. It is pure obfuscation to call them moderates.
What the voters in Connecticut really said on Tuesday was that they'd had enough of that kind of reality twisting.
Glen Rubenstein, Colo.: Two candidates run for office. Voters pick the candidate who represents their interests. This is democracy in action. When this occurs, the only thing in danger is not the center, or democracy as we know it, or even the Democratic party —it is the incumbent who is in danger.
Also, your notion that Ned Lamont was picked to represent the Democratic party of Connecticut by polarized primary voters doesn't hold water due to the level of turnout — in this case, far higher than the 30 percent who usually show up for primaries. Though one should always be suspect when hearing Republican, right-wing editorialists discussing Democratic candidates and races, it would appear that you have never listened to what Lamont has to say.
Good luck painting this decent, successful centrist candidate as the radical left wing of the Democratic party — because if you just let the candidates run on the issues, Lieberman will get trounced once again in the general election.
Gretchen Stein, Canton, Conn.: I live in Connecticut, I voted for Lamont, and I am so tired of reading out-of-state analyses of my vote. It had nothing to do with any blind allegiance to a political party or to the rabidly left-leaning blogosphere. In fact, it was Lieberman himself who made his own party loyalty a campaign issue. It's my understanding that, in a democracy, politicians make decisions and citizens live with those choices. If citizens believe that they are not being well represented by those politicians, then when the next election rolls around they vote accordingly.
Lieberman, in spite of his experience and committee standing, supported a war where no threat was imminent. There was time to ‘get the intelligence right’ or to explore alternative strategies. Yet Lieberman justified his cheerleading by saying that any show of disunity with this administration's policies would send the wrong message to the world and our “enemies.” How many of his kids are in uniform, on patrol in Iraq?
The war in Iraq has had enormous opportunity costs for our economy and foreign policy. Lieberman keeps saying that regardless of how we got into Iraq, what matters now is what we do from here on in. However, if the people who have grossly mismanaged policy to this point are the same people who will be creating our from-this-point-forward policy, then Lieberman still doesn't see the problem the same way I do.
Our family budget is crippled, primarily by uncontrollable health care and utility expenses. Our town budgets are rising at a rate of about 10 percent each year, for the same reasons, resulting in cuts to our schools and town services. Contrary to popular national media reports, Lamont has made these issues policy priorities.
When I vote, I look for someone who is smart, who doesn't pander — and I look for leaders not cheerleaders. I hope that between now and November other voters and pundits will listen, really listen, to Lamont and ignore the blogs.