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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Lieberman Double Standard

by folkbum

I don't live in Connecticut; heck, I'm still a bit iffy about spelling Connecticut. But I watched last week's primary there with some interest--and, more intersting to me, I watched the Right Cheddarsphere's reactions to it as well. The title of this post probably gives away the punch line, but I'm hoping you'll stay with me.

The general tenor of the Right Cheddarsphere's response has been boilerplate "this is the end of the Democrats" rhetoric. Never mind that our demise has been predicted almost daily for the last decade or so--this time the "loony left" (or "wackadoo wing," my favorite) has sealed the deal. Here are some examples:
  • Peter DiGaudio calls Lamont "the appeasement candidate," complete with the claim that the winners were really "Islamic terrorists"; Peter also tells us that "the kooky moonbats that have taken over the Democratic Party."
  • The Game uses "wackadoo wing," noting helpfully that "Lieberman is the first casualty of the war against the war on terror." He also copies and pastes Ann Coulter--complete with the (c) 2006 tag--who looks at the Lamont win and longs for the days when Democrats were mere traitors.
  • Fred, on the day before the election, observed that "[t]his race is everything that is wrong with the Democratic party right now." At Badger Blog Alliance, Fred congratulated MoveOn and George Soros, calling Lamont's 48% in the primary "the looniest of the left."
  • Badger Blogger Patrick weighs in, calling the results a "victory in more ways than one" for Republicans.
  • Jenna is also convinced that a Lamont win "couldn't possibly help the Republicans more" in their chances of keeping the White House after 2008.
The exception I've found is Billiam, who comments in Keith's brief post below that "Republicans have more to worry about than this garbage. The people of Ct. have spoken. So be it." Not exactly ringing praise for Lamont, but at least it's a recognition that the small-d democratic process happened, and should be honored. (And he also chickens out on spelling Connecticut--my kind of man.)

Aside from the presumptuousness of telling Democrats how to run their party, these conservatives are engaging in a much more egregious offense: Bald hypocrisy. Scott Stearns of Brewtown Politico, in a very similarly named post to this one, notes one inconsistency:
It was amusing this week to see so many Republicans praising Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) before and after his primary loss. In the meantime, Republican moderates like Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) are berated as RINOs (Republican in Name Only) when they don't tow the party line. Chafee himself is facing a primary challenger in Cranston mayor Steve Laffey.
I can count on less than one hand how many posts I've seen from conservative Wisconsin bloggers about the Chaffee-Laffey primary. This may be because the media are not driving the Rhode Island story in quite the same way that they did CT's--it was a challenge to dig up even one national story about the primary. It could also be because there's not the netroots swell behind Laffey (that I've seen) that there was behind Lamont, i.e., there's no one blogging it here because no one's really blogging it there or nationally.

But I, like Scott, think there's more to it than that. Seth mentioned this week how happy the right seems to be that Rep. Curt Gielow (R-Mequon), a "RINO" for the sin of thinking everyone deserves health care coverage, for example.

But for some of the worst examples of this Right Chedarspherean hypocrisy, you need to go back to 2004. And I'm not just talking about the US Senate race in Pensylvania, either, where long-time incumbent Republican Arlen Specter beat conservative darling Pat Toomey by less than two percent in that primary. A stroll through the archives of some of the bloggers who were around then turned up Boots And Sabers' Owen, for example, "rooting for Toomey" and throwing around the RINO label (a label that DiGaudio still applies to Specter).

But the more telling race of 2004 was the race in the 20th State Senate District, where the conservative netroots went after the biggest RINO of them all, Mary Panzer.

As much as the Right Cheddarsphere couldn't believe that Democrats would go after Lieberman on one issue--the war--Mary Panzer was, as Owen said in November 2004, "defeat[ed . . .] because of her failure to pass TABOR." (Owen's August archives are like one long Grothman commercial.) Panzer's name continues to be evoked by the Right Cheddarsphere as kind of a rallying cry against RINOs across the state--even in the context of the Attorney General's race.

And the media coverage of the 2004 race, as well, is completely different: Unlike after CT last week, there were no articles in the newspaper or talk show hosts ranting against the netroots and the fringes taking over party primaries. Grothman's candidacy, and the work the conservative bloggers did for him, was supported by the media.

So even as they stand by and mock Connecticut Democrats for appeasing everyone from Howard Dean to al-Qaeda, they're more than happy to exercise the primary process to oust incumbents they don't care for. That's the kind of double standard that, for some reason, conservatives are allowed to hold. It's time we start calling them on it.

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