There have already been some attempts to suggest that the defeat of U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney in a Georgia Democratic primary on Tuesday offers a counterpoint to the defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman in his Connecticut primary.
After all, McKinney has been one of the most strident congressional critics of the Bush administration in general and the war in Iraq in particular, just as Lieberman has been one of the most strident Democratic supporters of the White House’s foreign policy adventures.
But the challengers to Lieberman and McKinney were not so different as the defeated incumbents.
Lieberman was defeated by an outspoken critic of the Bush administration — businessman Ned Lamont — in Tuesday’s Connecticut Democratic primary.
McKinney also defeated by an outspoken critic of the Bush administration — DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson — in Tuesday’s Georgia Democratic primary. And, unlike Lamont’s challenge to Lieberman, Johnson’s objections to McKinney’s reelection focused largely on personal controversies rather than her political stances.
While McKinney was the more progressive contender in the Atlanta-area race, Johnson was no conservative.
Here’s some of what Johnson said during the campaign regarding the foreign policy: “The War in Iraq is and always has been a mistake, and I have stood by this position since before Day One. The alleged weapons programs and stockpiles simply did not exist, and it is unacceptable that we are now engaged in such unnecessary and destructive conflict. The human toll is tragic, the economic burden enormous, the erosion of international respect for our country devastating. This war is a product of irresponsible and inept leadership…”
Here’s what Johnson, an attorney, had to say about civil liberties and privacy concerns raised by President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program: “It’s true that priorities shift during war. I understand that counter-terrorism agencies need the ability to more robustly protect us during these times. But our government is carefully crafted to protect our civil liberties and our privacy. This protection depends upon respect for the Constitutional checks and balances that keep each branch of government in line. Among these checks is the requirement that the executive branch obtain a warrant from the judiciary before challenging our privacy.
“It’s a simple matter of the rule of law,” added Johnson. “And no one is above the law, not the Pentagon, not the Attorney General, not the President. As a Member of Congress, I will oppose any attempts to undermine the liberties and rights that make ours a free and civil society. There is a sensible balance between vigilance and intrusion, between security and tyranny, and we can find it.”