Already Winning in Connecticut
Today the Senate Homeland Security committee released a report calling for the abolition of FEMA and claiming that we are completely unprepared to deal with another catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina. The ranking Democrat, Joe Lieberman, specifically criticized the President for "failing to provide the leadership" that could have gotten the bureaucratic ball rolling. The report can be found here.
It's interesting that Lieberman, Bush's favorite Democrat, is the one to make such a drastic call for change and deliver such a stinging rebuke to the President. After all, Lieberman was the guy who pushed through the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, and suggested that FEMA be put under its control.
Or maybe it isn't so surprising.
Lieberman's facing a primary challenge this year from Ned Lamont, a true progressive who's offered a real choice for Connecticut. Joementum's delusional fantasies about Iraq, his claim that "...we undermine the President's credibility at our nation's peril," his cowardly way of voting for cloture and then against the final passage of bills so he could claim opposition (he did it on both the bankruptcy bill and the confirmation of Justice Alito), and his really bizarre views about Catholic hospitals (they shouldn't have to hand out emergency contraception to rape victims because another hospital that will is just a "short car ride" away) don't play well in the liberal Nutmeg State.
So Lieberman's moving back to the left to secure his primary spot. He's coming out in a high-profile way to criticize the President. He's "showing leadership" on Katrina by calling for major changes to Homeland Security. And this means that we've already accomplished something pretty big in Connecticut. Without a primary challenge, I don't think you'd be seeing any of this happen. I'm not actively pushing for Lieberman's ouster (I'd rather focus on defeating Republicans), but I think primaries are great because it keeps politicians honest. By putting this kind of pressure on Lieberman we've made some tangible changes in his behavior. And that will continue even if he succeeds in his primary fight and continues to serve in the Senate.
If I were voting in the state, I'd go with Lamont (especially because Lieberman continues to make suggestions that he'd run as an independent if he loses the primary; how can you vote for a Democrat that doesn't respect the wishes of Democratic voters?). But even if he loses, I'm happy that the progressive wing of the party is crashing the gate and letting the ossified Dem establishment know that they are not pre-ordained leaders, that they are eminently replaceable, and that they'd better understand that the constituents are paying attention.