With all due respect to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Iraq war support and commitment to the Bush mission of spreading freedom and democracy to the Middle East (a mission I fully support), I’m still not convinced that backing Lieberman with a lot of heavy GOP big money support is a game that is truly worth the candle.
My sense is that Lieberman will tilt away from President Bush in the next three months and start criticizing Bush’s war management. While there is certainly some validity to this (see my NRO column, "Where's Harry Truman?") I think Lieberman will play hardball with Bush and wind up backing some sort of Democratic party troop withdrawal scenario.
The blue state, anti-war Connecticut message was very clear. And Lieberman won’t beat Limosuine-Liberal Ned Lamont unless he caters to that message. He will criticize Bush wherever possible, as by the way, Sen. Hillary Clinton has done. She too, will heed the Lamont election message and shift her position in response to the Connecticut primary.
In other words, the Lamont election message will push Democrats several yards further to the left. So far to the left in fact, that in the next 90 days, the Dems will once again morph back to the anti-war McGovernite “peace” party as Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal. This makes it possible that the new McGovernite Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
For a whole bunch of reasons, including war mismanagement (not the mission, but the poor management of the mission), high gas prices, the housing slump, rising interest rates, continued congressional GOP overspending, and their failure to get a broad based immigration reform bill passed, I think if the election were held today, the Dems would pick up 15-30 seats in the House, and 5-6 seats in the Senate.
Indeed, moderate to conservative Democrat Harold Ford of Tennessee could surprise everyone with a victory that would tip the Senate into Republican hands. Ford has supported investor tax cuts, eliminating the death tax, a 1 percent across the board budget cut, and PayGo to reduce the budget deficit.
In stark contrast to Joe Lieberman, who votes the Democratic party line on high tax and high spend issues, Congressman Ford has been exemplary in promoting pro-growth policies to reduce taxing and spending.
Ford could be the pivotal Senate election tipping point. He supports the Iraq mission, while criticizing the war management, and simultaneously votes as a supply-sider on the economy.
Lieberman will do no such thing. And should Lieberman win as an Independent in Connecticut, he will caucus with the Dems and continue his roughly 90% pro-Democrat voting record.
This is why GOP big money guys have other fish to fry in a number of other key Senate races where the election of Republicans could maintain a GOP senate. However, the election of Lieberman will push to a Democratic Senate.
The contrast between Harold Ford and Joe Lieberman is very interesting. Ford is very much a JFK type democrat (pro-business, pro-growth, and pro-tax cuts)—whereas Lieberman is a Hubert Humphrey Democrat (a big government tax and spender).
Personally, I would take Ford over Lieberman. Particularly because I think the Lamont election in Connecticut will push Lieberman further to the left.