David Brooks had a laughable column in Sunday’s New York Times.
“What’s happening to Lieberman can only be described as a liberal inquisition,” Brooks proclaims. What Brooks characterizes as an “inquisition” — an effort, as he puts it, “to expel Joe Lieberman from modern liberalism”– is simply a spirited effort to elect a Senator who better represents the values of Connecticut’s citizens. That’s not ideological purity . It’s about organized people holding accountable a legislator who has acted as an unflinching supporter of this disastrous war.
Brooks–who likes to play populist–can’t hide his contempt for the ordinary citizen-voters of Connecticut. Apparently, he’s forgotten what elections are about. He derides “fundamentalists of both parties who believe that politics should be about party discipline, passion, purity, orthodoxy or clear choices.” What’s wrong about a politics that gives voters “clear choices”? As Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson put it, “Now, maybe I’ve had this backward all my life, but I thought that elections were held to enable voters to choose between candidates espousing different points of view on the most important issues.” What’s wrong with bringing some passion back into our politics, which has been dominated for too long by inside-the-beltway, well-paid consultants and pollsters.
Then there’s Brooks’ weird reference to “upscale revivalists on the left [who] reduce everything to Iraq, and all who are deemed impure must be cleansed away.” Well, if you put it that way there sure are a lot of left-wing revivalists in Connecticut. The latest polls show 60 percent of voters in that state are against the war. As the Nation‘s John Nichols reported last week, “few states register higher antiwar sentiment than does Connecticut and the distaste for the occupation extends far beyond the Democratic base to include independents and quite a few Republicans.” ( Brooks doesn’t bother to acknowledge that Lieberman’s primary opponent Ned Lamont is closer to Connecticut’s mainstream than the incumbent Senator.)
It’s certainly true that the war is the defining issue. How could it not be? And while almost 100 percent of the Democratic caucus in the Senate tries to find a way out of this debacle, (a handful more courageously than others) Lieberman remains an unflinching cheerleader for Bush–giving cover to this White House’s poisonously partisan use of the war.