"He's such a good man. I don't know why he didn't catch on," 89-year-old Marsha Lieberman told the Los Angeles Times in 2004, when it looked like her son's presidential campaign was about to flop.
A number of national Democrats and media elites now sound as baffled as Sen. Joe Lieberman's late mother, but this time they are trying to figure out why so many Connecticut Democrats are so angry with him. Lieberman is so concerned about this that he is gathering signatures to run as an Independent, should he lose the August 8th primary.
The prime explanation of Lieberman loyalists is that it is a small band of crazy lefties and irresponsible bloggers who are trying to ruin the Democratic Party and take down this wonderful principled man.
One of those who are so worried about the state of the Democrats is conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks. He wails that the campaign against Lieberman, "the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men," is a liberal inquisition designed to drive Scoop Jackson Democrats out of the party.
When conservatives start publicly worrying about the Democratic Party losing members, it may be a sign that the Democrats are actually onto something. (Earth to Brooks: the Scoop Democrats, with the possible exception of Jack Murtha, departed a long, long time ago.)
The reason many Connecticut voters are so upset with well-intentioned Joe Lieberman is because of his vaunted principles. They don't like them and are trying to let him and the nation know. Isn't that what primaries and elections are about? Voters get to chose candidates who will carry out policies they want.
Lieberman supported and still supports President Bush's policy on the war in Iraq, which many believe is immoral and misguided and he has an opponent, Ned Lamont, who is more in synch with the voters on this issue. Politics has become so technical and bloodless that it is hard for the pros to understand that voters can get quite passionate about issues, especially moral issues - like war and peace.
There is a huge irony about this race. In 1970, the Connecticut Democratic Party went through a similar internecine fight. Incumbent Senator Tom Dodd, a conservative, anti-communist Democrat who supported the Vietnam War and stood with an unpopular President, was so out of favor with the activists (for ethical transgressions as well as ideology) that he opted out of the Democratic primary and ran as an Independent.
The anti-war Democratic candidate, Rev. Joe Duffy, was supported by none other than Joe Lieberman, the founder of the anti-war Caucus of Connecticut Democrats, who was waging a primary challenge of his own against the Democratic State Senate Majority leader Ed Marcus.