I find David Brooks (of the New York Times) extremely irritating to read, and to listen to on McNeil Lehrer. And truthfully I have been going to the Huffington Post site way more than to the New York Times lately, so I haven't been reading his pieces that much. (Though I still value reading Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd.)
Yesterday I went to the Times site, and saw that Brooks had written a piece decrying the primary challenge Senator Joseph Lieberman is facing in Connecticut.
Imagine! He's having to face a challenger in his own party. Imagine! Many in the Democratic Party feel it's time to let go of Lieberman due to his unambiguous support of the wretched Iraq war, and his endless offering of comfort and political cover to the Bush administration for its mishandling and lying about the war.
David Brooks seems to think for Democrats to hold Lieberman accountable for his pro-Iraq war position is a "Liberal Inquisition" (the title of his op ed piece).
Plus, Brooks adds, "Whether you agree with him or not, he is transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men." The point is - he's nice, so don't upset him by trying to vote him out?
And it's apparently a "liberal inquisition" because to make the Iraq war fiasco a REASON for voting someone out is not acceptable, according to Brooks.
It's a war, for God's sake. It's made us less safe, it's created more terrorists, it's killed and mutilated scores of Americans and Iraqis, and today's news of Sunni-Shiite violence seems dire indeed, and five seconds away from civil war... Oh but no, to hold a Democrat responsible for supporting and STILL supporting this war is an inquisition? It's not nice! It's not bipartisan!
Brooks makes a very strange comparison in this section: "In a dark parody of the old struggle between Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, the highly educated, highly affluent, highly Caucasian wing of the Democratic Party has turned liberalism from a philosophy into a secular religion, and then sought to purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity."
It's the McCarthy-Humphrey comment I want to respond to, but let me say that the core of the sentence - "turned liberalism ... into a secular religion" and "purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity" - is meaningless rhetoric.
Most Democratic voters are furious about the war, and they don't want to re-elect someone who is actually in favor of it. That's not forcing "moral purity," you nitwit. That's called voting about what concerns you deeply. If you didn't vote connected to what your deep concerns are, you'd be an idiot. Though you'd be more approved of by Mr. Brooks.
McCarthy vs. Humphrey - I was a student during those years. The large protests against the Vietnam war were a new thing for American society - LBJ, after his stirring record on civil rights, suddenly tied his Presidency to the Vietnam war, which was going on and on, to no apparent purpose.
When LBJ announced he would not run again, those of us against the war were ecstatic - the policy really could be changed. Eugene McCarthy was the first politician to stand against the war; Robert Kennedy came to it late, but would have stood against it as well. Kennedy was killed, and McCarthy was beat by... Hubert Humphrey. Those of you under 40 won't have known Humphrey, but he was a charisma-less Chatty Cathy of a vice president who was going to run in LBJ's place, and was going to have the EXACT SAME position on the war - basically "stay the course," Bush's mantra. (Though he's been saying it less lately, busy playing instead with the "cut and run" accusation-distortion.)
So Brooks' conjuring up McCarthy vs. Humphrey is supposed to make you think it's good to re-elect Lieberman??? Cause he's "nice" like Humphrey, and will keep everything the same? He thinks Humphrey was a good choice for the Democrats back then? (Nixon won.) What a weird example to bring up.
Yesterday I felt so irritated by Brooks' thick-headed column that I felt tongue-tied.
Then I read Cenk Uygur on the Lieberman topic with his piece Note to Dense Mainstream Media - Why We Hate Lieberman (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/note-to-dense-mainstream-_b_24654.html), and it was spot on. He made every point I had in my head but couldn't put down on paper.
This morning I read Frank Dwyer on the Brooks article, with his post A Single Issue is Sometimes Enough (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-dwyer/a-single-issue-is-sometim_b_24678.html), which responds extremely well to part of Brooks' argument (that Joe should be valued for all his long history of being liberal, and we should not let his behavior during the Bush nightmare presidency count against him).
I see that Mr. Dwyer works in the theatre, as do I. I salute him and Mr. Uygur for their smart pieces. Please read them on the Senator Lieberman issue. Their pieces are more fully and effectively argued than is my post today. I'm also indulging in blowing off steam today. But I'm angry, and need to blow it off.
Speaking of which, I also see on the Huff Po today a post from Margaret Carlson, linked to her op ed piece on Bloomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&refer=columnist_carlson&sid=a6j_MKdlfl7k)
I know Ms. Carlson's writing less than I know the ever irritating Mr. Brooks.
But I found her piece today -- Lieberman Is Down; Hillary Clinton Piles On - to be badly reasoned, and just like Brooks in its bizarre disapproval of Democrats using a primary to challenge candidates. What are primaries for? To rubber stamp everything? That's it?
Hillary Clinton has said she would support whoever won the Democratic primary - and if it's not Lieberman who wins, that means she WON'T support Lieberman in a third party challenge.
Carlson writes: "Deciding to run as an independent was a tough call for Lieberman, the three-term incumbent. Polls show he would win a general election but might lose a low-turnout primary to Ned Lamont, his antiwar, anti-Bush challenger. Voters motivated enough to show up in the dog days of August for a primary are likely to be ideologues angry at Lieberman."
Wow, that has a lot of weird assumptions (and Republican talking points) in it, doesn't it? Tough call. Ideologues.
"A tough call for Lieberman" - tough for him to say I don't care if the voters don't elect me in the primary, I'll run anyway. F--k the voters. This is how democracy works? Tough call, or selfish call? Or undemocratic call? Or "I think I'll be Ralph Nader this year" call, my ego is more important than what the voters want.
Connecticut is a VERY liberal state. In Lieberman, they have a very mealy-mouthed, conservative, Bush-apologist candidate, three-term incumbent or not.
He's made a BAD error supporting a war that most Democrats loathe. LOATHE.
Why shouldn't voters want to oust him? He's not representing them well! Why all this sympathy for him from Brooks and Carlson?
Do they not like the workings of democracy?
If Hillary Clinton were in this position - about to lose a Democratic primary, and deciding to run as an independent, hoping her name recognition would let her win among more general voters (including Republicans) - they would crucify her, or unkindly cast it as part of her steely eyed determination. (And is that part of Lieberman's likelihood of winning a general election - that Republicans would vote for him? I think so.)
But when Joe decides primaries shouldn't be the system - Oh, that Joe, he's a puppy dog we need to indulge.
And then there's Carlson's other Repub Talking Point: "Voters motivated enough to show up ... for a primary are likely to be ideologues angry at Lieberman."
If you're appalled by the war - the lying to get into it, the incompetence of running it, the inability to get out of it - and if you're appalled by the way the Bush administration has used 9-11 to manipulate, and to do a HORRIFYING grab of executive power, which we've only learned about from whistleblowers who some in the Bush camp want to put in prison for giving us this information - if you have a strong reaction to that set of actions in our government, according to Ms. Carlson you are an IDEOLOGUE.
Really? What is she instead? A cupcake? A Lovely Moderate Person Who Doesn't View This as a Dangerous Juncture in Our Country's History? One of the Main Stream Media Who's So Close to It All That She's Blind to Everything but the Status Quo? A Nice Person Who Likes Joe Lieberman, while Hillary, according to her article, is having her reaction to Joe because he criticized Bill's tryst with Ms. Lewisnky.
(How is Ms. Lewinksy? How is Linda Tripp, that lovely Republican? How is Ken Starr? How is Pepperdine University? Is Paula Jones doing any more boxing with Tanya Harding on television? What good times those were!)
Hillary has been rubbing shoulders with LOTS of people who have been hateful to Bill, it hasn't seemed to stop her. But Carlson thinks her position that a primary win should mean something can't be believed on its own, it has to be spiteful pay back? (Even if Hillary is being calculated, it's more likely she wants to earn points with the liberal base rather than to punish Goody Lieberman, no? Though I'm willing to give Hillary points on this. I mean, again, what are primaries for?)
Ms. Carlson and Mr. Brooks are paid to offer us their opinions. They're very lucky.
(Again, for fuller arguments on this topic, please read Cenk Uygur and Frank Dwyer.)