Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Joe Lieberman is understandably upset over the Gore endorsement of Dean. The one lingering question he seems to be asking is, "what's changed?", since Gore tapped him as a running mate in 2000. It seems to me as a candidate for president he should be able to figure that out. What's changed has alot to do with Gore, and many other democrats realizing that the centrist leanings of the "new" democratic party cost us alot of votes in 2000. Democrats were driven more to the center by bullies from the right leaving our left flank so wide open that the Greens, led by Ralph Nader, saw an opportunity, not so much to win, but to get a large enough percentage of the vote to qualify for federal matching in 2004. This scattered a large segment of the traditional democratic base and made the race tight enough to cost Gore the electorate. Once the full nightmare of George W. Bush was realized, the democrats, left and center alike, strengthened their resolve, shook off the right's bullying attacks, and worked to solidify around a singular purpose, defeating Bush in 04. And smart democrats realize we're not going to do it using the same strategies of middlehood used by Gore in 2000. Smart democrats, except it would seem, Joe Lieberman. He's still running toward the center, banking that since Al Gore and he won the popular vote and there's no Nader (yet) this will be a replay where the real winners will come out on top.But things have changed, and he needs to see that. Beyond the enormous changes 9/11 caused in our collective national Psyche, are the enormous changes in his own party. We're not as ashamed of our leftist leanings as we were three years ago. Most democrats are against the war. He not only voted for it, he's the only one running who seems to be for it wholehartedly. And that's an example of his biggest misstep to date-he seems to be with the president on alot of things. Maybe he was right leaning before, (I don't know myself. I personally didn't pay much attention to Lieberman before 2000) and that's why he can't see what's changed. But his name on the 2000 ticket gave him name recognition for good or ill. And with that recognition comes a large group of democrats who payed more attention to his views over the past three years, and who've seen him go with Bush quite a few times on major issues. We're democrats, Joe, we hate Bush, remember? And going right isn't going to get you any votes away from Bush-his supporters are pretty solid. We're supposed to be the alternative to Bush. Another mistake Gore made, and Joe's making now is not playing to his strengths as a leader and policy maker. The climate stewardship act he co sponsored is a great piece of legislation but he has yet to bring it up noticably in the debates or in interviews-all he can talk about is what he thinks is wrong with Howard Dean. That doesn't really make people want to vote for Joe Lieberman-at most it might make people not vote for Dean. And if it becomes a Dean/Bush race, which looks more and more like a possibility, it hurts the party. (And it should be noted, that his bitter, attacks on Al Gore over the past two days greatly hurt the party as well) So if Joe wants to see what's changed, all he needs to do is step back and realize it may not be him, it's the rest of the world. He may not have changed a bit, but maybe his style of leadership isn't what we need anymore. And if someone who wants to hold the mantle of this nation's leadership can't even step back and see the changes in this country, or even in his own party, (I mean, he's gone so far as to actually have to ask, "what's changed?" several times, ) it only serves to paint a picture of someone who's far from fit to lead us right now.

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