Some future political science student will cruise to his Ph.D. on a thesis analyzing the Democratic Party purge being held tomorrow in Connecticut. Those of us who believe that "big government conservative" is an oxymoron and who want to fight the war as if we mean to win it are entirely out of patience with Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans. They haven't dealt with our most deadly enemies decisively despite having the means and opportunity to do so, and behave as though their purpose in life is to spend money that isn't theirs. But most of the time we hold our noses and stick with the president because the Dems are vastly worse.
Throughout the Clinton years, the Dems' hid behind Clinton's "don't worry, be happy" smile. The good times rolled on while the danger of Islamic terrorism grew. Now, almost five years into a war, their entire 2006 national defense strategy is contained in Alfred E. Neuman's "What, me worry?" That fact disturbs the Dems not at all, because they have no constituency other than the most rabid antiwar Bush haters. It disturbs us because we're at war and all the Dems have to offer is Jack Murtha -- whose favorite target is the Marines, not the enemy -- and John Dingell, who sees no moral difference between Hizballah and the Israelis.
Now the Michael Moore-Pinch Sulzberger-Cindy Sheehan Dems are about to purge poor ol' Joe Lieberman from their party in Tuesday's primary because he supports the war in Iraq. There's no other issue among the Dems, as Chris Matthews rehearsed yesterday. Dan Rathercadaver -- resurrected by Matthews to make his Sunday show the greatest black comedy since Dr. Strangelove -- agreed solemnly. There's no greater crime for a Dem than to voice any opinion other than the one the Washington Post wrote in an editorial on July 16, wringing its hands and blaming W for all the world's ills: "But in the press of cascading crises, it is crucial that the administration not lose focus on the two wars it started and has yet to win." (Italics added, superfluously.)
According to the Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Ned Lamont leads Lieberman by 54-41 percent. If Lieberman loses, we should be very grateful. If the anti-Bush media and the Democrats who follow its orders succeed in purging Lieberman, if they succeed in this danse macabre, the Dems will be headed off a cliff and not back to the White House in 2008.
A Lieberman loss will do two things. First, it will prevent the Dems from recovering from their leftward flat spin, and take them into the ground. Hard. Further claims to moderation or credibility on national defense will be laughable to anyone not sharing Bush Derangement Syndrome. The Dems seeking their 2008 nomination, such as Hillary, are already positioning themselves to blow their cover with the help of their best media pals.
Last week the Associated Press joined Team Clinton by helping her prepare for Lieberman's fall. On Wednesday, there was an AP story written around her letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld commanding him to reverse course and testify at a hastily scheduled Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq. The story, of course, quoted no Republicans, but made up a "furor' about Rumsfeld's declining to testify. Then, when the Big Dog changed his mind and showed up to debate the ankle-biters, AP obliged with another story -- again featuring Mizz Hillary and her "showdown" with Rumsfeld -- that reported him in disorganized retreat from her furious onslaught. (If he was in retreat, so was Patton at Bastogne.) Hillary left the room deflated, and Jack Reed was chewing the carpet at his own failure to make headway against the facts Rumsfeld and Gens. Pace and Abizaid had at their fingertips. AP's payoff for the mini-plot was that they got the exclusive "scoop" on Hillary's call for Rumsfeld to resign. It was all a big yawn. AP and Clinton share the credit for her head fake to the left. And -- by Lil' Billy's appearance at Lieberman's side -- Team Clinton gets to have it both ways. They win if he wins, they win if he loses.
Second, a Lieberman loss will give uncontested control of the Democratic Party to its most left-leaning media bosses. Never forget, dear friends, that there are two political parties in America: the Republicans and the mainstream media. The Dems are so bereft of ideas, so unable to think seriously on any topic, they take their lead on everything from what the New York Times, CBS, the Washington Post, ABC and NBC tell them. The AP-Hillary exercise in news manufacturing is only the overture to a symphony that will be playing from now until November, and again in 2008. And the Dems will follow in lockstep. After the New York Times editorial page endorsed Lamont, what else could the Dems do but choose him? They'll scurry to follow orders, just as Vichy John Kerry flew home from Davos to filibuster Alito when the NYT ordered the Dems to do so.
There will be some who welcome Lieberman as a third-party candidate for the Senate. They will say that he's the best example of a responsible Democrat and a few will even suggest he should run as a Republican. But the Big Tent Republican Party (tent purchased at surplus from Ringling Brothers) isn't big enough to accommodate someone whose decades-long liberalism is a matter of record. Anyone who said, as he did in 2003, that Kweisi Mfume should be on the Supreme Court is not someone who fits anywhere in the Republican lineup. Because Lieberman is one of the few Dems left with any shred of judgment and integrity only means he has no place in the Democratic Party of Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton. The end of his political career as a Dem is a milestone for their party. Gone is the party of Scoop Jackson and Sam Nunn. The Dems are the party of the New York Times.
The effect of a Lieberman purge should reverberate throughout America. A political party that cannot tolerate dissent, that cannot accept as legitimate any position that doesn't hew to the leftmost fringe, cannot last unless its opponents fail to take advantage of its fundamental weakness. If the kiss on the cheek Lieberman got from the president proves to be the coup fatal, it could be one that produces a veto-proof Republican Senate.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004) and, with Edward Timperlake, Showdown: Why China Wants War With the United States (Regnery, May 2006 -- click here to obtain a free chapter).