Annals of the Village: Mickey Edwards edition.

This is so far from being important to the state of the Republic that you can treat what follows as a kind of duty-of-care post: it won’t add anything much to what we already know about the way the Villagers play, but we have to keep pointing and smirking as much as possible.  Naming and shaming is part of how we get our politics back, IMHO.

So after that sermonizing break, here’s a little item that caught my eye a couple of days ago from Mickey Edwards.

Edwards is wired; he’s active; he’s pulled every stop on the Village organ, and no one has ever said that he’s a dummy.

But his post telling us not to “Gloat Over Lieberman’s Exit,” almost comically gives the lie to that presumption of insight.  To begin a minifisking, here’s where Edwards transcribes Lieberman’s self perception:

The truth is, Lieberman is neither fish nor fowl, which makes him the kind of member of Congress we should all hope for; one who decides issues on their merits, not party dictates, and who listens to his constituents, not party insiders.

Well, except for matters like this, in which Lieberman consistently listened to certain constituents (give Mickey one there) but not to anything remotely like a majority of his electorate.

__

Reality 1, Edwards 0

Then there’s this:

…an opportunistic millionaire named Ned Lamont challenged, and narrowly defeated, Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic primary for the Senate…

This is just Village playground taunting, of course.  Ned Lamont is the opportunist, for the outrageous act of having dared to oppose Lieberman over a fundamental disagreement on the value of the Iraq War before running when no one else would.  Yes, he could run because he was rich…but given that this was one campaign (actually two, primary and general) truly argued over a crucial matter of policy, it seems a little odd to those of us outside the Beltway to call Lamont somehow untrustworthy for his decision to run.

__

And of course, there is the inconvenient fact that it was Joe Lieberman who made the decision of his own free will to enter the Democratic primary, and, when it came time to accept the decision of the voters in that election, chose instead opportunistically to take advantage of Connecticut’s quite forgiving ballot process and run in the general election as an “independent.”  (AKA, Lieberman I-ElectricBoat/Hartford Insurance).

But that’s OK with Edwards, because, as a true villager, actual democracy is awkward:

…in a race that highlighted the way in which closed party primaries distort the election process.

What?  I mean this is mostly gibberish, interpretable only when you realize that Edwards is here offering his voice to the Broderesque choir that sees a parrticular group of self-styled centrists as the only true party of government.  They’re not centrists, of course.  They are bureacratic-elite centralizers, those who want to govern in a father-knows-best manner with minimal checks. But they are deeply constrained, if not, sadly, utterly ingnorable, by the fact that actual people with particular views combine to select candidates to reflect those views, and place those candidates in elections in order to propel those views onto the national stage.

__

Closed primaries do not distort the election process — they are the process, where they are used.  They only distort if by that word you mean, make it more plausible that actual differences of view will be represented in the general.   It’s open primaries that are much more prone to manipulation — as we’ve seen as recently (at the Presidential level) as  Rushbo’s attempt to work mischief in his “Operation Chaos” nonsense urging his listeners to vote for Clinton during the primary campaign.

Edwards knows this.  He’s too smart, too experienced not to grasp the basic idea that allowing political parties to choose their candidates by themselves is not a threat to democracy.  Or rather, if it is, we’ve been in trouble in the US since 1792.  Why, then, did he write this?

Two reasons I can think of.  The first is that he is a lying tool adding his voice to the collective Village Pravda feed — but that’s not what I believe is the right answer.

__

Rather, it is that Edwards is suffering from a familiar disease, that narrowing of conceptual understanding that comes from too long within an environment in which certain ideas are simply inexpressible.  He writes nonsense because, like those cave-fish who have evolved the loss of sight, he has severed his own capacity to see himself and his companions as other see them. Spend too long in such a sensory-deprived condition (especially when that’s where they keep your iron rice bowl, of course), you diminish.

Hence this kind of elegy:

Agree with him or not, when a Joe Lieberman can no longer be appreciated or welcome in our increasingly uncivil politics we have indeed lost a vital part of the deliberative process upon which a vibrant democracy depends.

Again with the prophet without honor stuff!

__

Dude! Remember why Lieberman announced his retirement:  the citizens of Connecticut showed every sign of tiring of his act.  Given the dangerous persistence of incumbents most of the time, I’d say this was exactly the kind of development on which a vibrant democracy depends.  Why does Edwards disagree?

Lots of reasons, probably.  I’m guessing, for example, that he doesn’t believe that Lieberman should pay a consequence for his behavior on Health Care Reform, perhaps because he agrees with Lieberman, and disagrees with a majority of Connecticut voters.  But the closest thing to a real argument Edwards advances in the post itself comes here:

I, too, have argued that our continued involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is not in the nation’s best interest, but even if I disagreed with Lieberman’s assessment, there was no doubt that he was a man who had weighed the issues carefully and was doing what he thought was right.

No doubt? I wouldn’t be so sure of that…but that’s not my point.

__

That would be that to the Village, it is not the consequences of your actions that matter.  Rather, it is whether or not you are the “right” kind of person.  Lieberman meant well, according to Edwards, so it doesn’t matter that he was catastrophically wrong in his judgment on waging the Iraq war.

It’s a view that prevails too often. There were lots of things that molded the outcome of the 2010 midterms, but it was striking that so many Republicans who argued for exactly the same choices that got us into such trouble so recently still managed to claw back into power.

But even so that doesn’t make the “right kind of person” trope either coherent or good for the republic.  Lieberman was nearly bounced from office four years ago because he got Iraq wrong.  Now, the disaster is even more obvious.  Even if you were to grant that Lieberman in this case exercised his judgment sincerely, disinterestedly and in the hope of coming to the best possible decision, he failed.

This ain’t a game, folks.  A lot of people have died, more will, and the US will suffer consequences that range from lives and families shattered to infrastructure un-built and kids uneducated because Lieberman and others thought it was a good idea to wage a war of choice in a place and context that they thoroughly failed to understand.

Did we lose a vital part of our democracy when we tossed Joe Lieberman?  Only in the mind of someone for whom what leaders actually do doesn’t  matter.

We have got to get these folks into a new line of work.

Images:  Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail), 1503-1504.

Joseph Wright of Derby, Grotto in the Evening, 1774

Cross Posted at The Inverse Square Blog

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29 replies
  1. 1
    General Stuck says:

    them nekked women need Steeler jerseys.

  2. 2
    liberal says:

    …one who decides issues on their merits…

    LOL!

  3. 3
    Mike in NC says:

    Lieberman is neither fish nor fowl

    Merely foul

  4. 4
    Bobby Thomson says:

    The first is that he is a lying tool adding his voice to the collective Village Pravda feed—but that’s not what I believe is the right answer.

    I don’t see anything in the post to rebut that conclusion.

    Sloth and greed seem much more plausible than Plato’s analogy of the cave.

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Not Plato. Blind cave fish are real. Spend too long in the hole, and all you got is dank darkness.

  6. 6
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Tom Levenson: But you might be right in that I’ve got a dichotomy with a non-excluded middle going here.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    Go Tom. Its a lost cause but go! go! go! I mean, look, we will not get an honest accounting of the costs of the Iraq war until the last warhawk is strangled with the entrails of the last sorrowful Joe Klein like apologist. That is to say: the fifth of never. I anticipate in twenty years hearing from my right wing sister in law, who will have read a sorrowful story of a child’s death during the Iraq war:

    “Gosh, aimai! I just had no idea! I really thought, at the time, that the war was the right thing to do! That story just really made me sad!” The fact that anyone with half a brain and a quarter of a heart would have anticipated death and destruction as the major product of war will have been lost.

    aimai

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    The essence of Broderism:

    as an apostate, unwilling to join other liberals in condemnation of the wars in which America had found itself embroiled.

    “found itself embroiled”– The Iraq War just kinda happened. There is no right and wrong, especially exclusively for things that just kinda happen under Republican administrations. And torture is a debatable issue, and really, how could Joe Lieberman know if Barack Obama is a Muslim or not?
    I’ve read three or four of these “poor Joe Lieberman, there’s just no room for moderates in today’s politics/Democrat(ic) Party”. Actually, this may be the first that actually mentions the word “Iraq”. It’s a declaration of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. I still can’t quite believe it.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    Agree with him or not, when a Joe Lieberman can no longer be appreciated or welcome in our increasingly uncivil politics we have indeed lost a vital part of the deliberative process upon which a vibrant democracy depends.

    Jeebus Christ on a stick, reading this shit just killed a large number of my brain cells.

    No, Mickey Edwards, you asshole. The fact that Lieberman is no longer appreciated or welcome is proof that our democracy can survive self-aggrandizing idiots like him mucking about in the deliberative process. We haven’t had a vibrant democracy precisely because of people like Lieberman and the entire fucking Village. The fewer of them with any influence on our deliberative process, the more vibrant our democracy becomes.

    Fuck me, this kind of deliberately obtuse, Villager common wisdom will be the downfall of this country.

  10. 10
    MattR says:

    But Joe Lieberman, and let’s be thankful for it, is not an attack dog; he’s a citizen who thinks disagreement with his own views does not imply malevolence or stupidity in an opponent. What a rare treat.

    Now that I have stopped laughing I am too lazy to do it myself, but perhaps some enterprising person can track down some of Lieberman’s quotes about those who doubted the importance/wisdom of invading Iraq (or the surge).

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    …in a race that highlighted the way in which closed party primaries distort the election process.

    Why should somebody who won’t declare themselves part of a party be allowed to help choose its candidates? Party nominee selection is an internal party matter, not an essential aspect of democracy. (That said, I still think the ballot box is the way the Democrats should choose their nominees. Repukes can do what they want – I suspect it would be quite telling.)

  12. 12
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Sweet Jumpin’ Jeebus. I’ve been vaguely aware of Edwards for years, as one of those Republicans who isn’t one of those Republicans.

    Edwards served for five years as national chairman of the American Conservative Union and the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. He was one of three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation.

    CPAC? Heritage? the ACU? also, of course, Harvard, Princeton, the Fucking Brookings Institution, and the Aspen Institute. This is “centrism”.

  13. 13
    DougJ DougJson says:

    If you write about Edwards again, I recommend the title It’s Guys Like You, Mickey.

  14. 14
    p.a. says:

    I disagree with all this Lieberman bashing. He has been forthright in his politics and constant in his stands. He has been the most successful Likud Senator of his time.

  15. 15
    Tom Levenson says:

    @DougJ DougJson: I hope never to have the need, but I appreciate the notion and will steal the title if occasion arises.

  16. 16
    somethingblue says:

    It’s been several years since I can even remember seeing a reference to Mickey Edwards. I enjoyed not seeing references to him, and would like to go back to that time.

    I wonder if he’s coming out of the woodwork to make a play for the no-labels patriotic millionaire party nomination. (For Veep, I mean. He seems like vice-presidential material to me.)

  17. 17
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @p.a.: The neat thing is, whatever happened in 2000, history would have been made. We would have had elected either a ticket with an MK on it, or the first representative of the hitherto shamefully unrepresented undead community.

    Lieberman or Cheney — either way, a great, inclusive, step forward for America.

  18. 18
    Rick Massimo says:

    Shorter Mickey Edwards: Yay democracy! Boo those stupid voters!

    Gail Collins (Gail Collins!) nailed it: People group into political poarties because you can get a lot of stuff done that way. Preening Lod Fauntleroys who admire themselves for their ability to fuck over anyone who gets within 100 yeards of them do not get anything done.

    Which is why Lieberman was gonna get bounced. Which is an inconvenient fact that Edwards can’t wish away, no matter how many words he writes.

  19. 19
    Rick Massimo says:

    (That said, I still think the ballot box is the way the Democrats should choose their nominees. Repukes can do what they want – I suspect it would be quite telling.)

    I gotta admit, the Republican presidential nominating process is way more democratic than the Democrats’. No superdelegates, and delegates based on population, so they don’t have situations like the Democrats have with Puerto Rico, which has no electoral votes but has more delegates than 16 states.

  20. 20
    Bob says:

    One “n” too many in the first word of the title of this post.

  21. 21

    Shorter Mickey Edwards: Joe Lieberman is my friend, and you DFHes aren’t.

  22. 22
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @MattR:

    Now that I have stopped laughing I am too lazy to do it myself, but perhaps some enterprising person can track down some of Lieberman’s quotes about those who doubted the importance/wisdom of invading Iraq (or the surge).

    We don’t even need to go back that far to catch him acting like an outright asshole:

    ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: It was stunning to hear you say that there was evidence that Saddam Hussein was working on weapons of mass destruction, given that even President Bush himself has now accepted that there had been no evidence. So on what basis are you saying that?
    __
    JOE LIEBERMAN: I’m basing it on the so-called Duelfer Report. Charles D-U-E-L-F-E-R conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our government. And it was, nobody thought it was partisan. I want to be very clear: he didn’t find big caches of weapons of mass destruction. But he found, and proved I think, that Saddam had every intention, and particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological weapons, and had a structure in place including nuclear scientists that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the sanctions, which he was inclined to do. So I think that the evidence is clear that if we did not do what we did that Saddam Hussein would today have at least chemical and biological weapons and have a nuclear program probably like Iran’s beginning to move toward capabilities, and that the entire world would be a much less…
    __
    HUFFINGTON: Well, based on this completely unfounded assumption, I sincerely hope for the sake of the country that you do not become Secretary of Defense.
    __
    LIEBERMAN: Now Arianna, these are not unfounded. Go read the Duelfer Report.
    __
    HUFFINGTON: There is nothing in the report that proves anything that you have said.
    __
    LIEBERMAN: I don’t think you’ve read it, sweetheart.

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Puerto Rico has a population greater than 16 states…including New Hampshire and Iowa.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    @Rick Massimo:

    Puerto Rico, which has no electoral votes but has more delegates than 16 states.

    So the Dems are undemocratic because they include Puerto Rico in their process but it’s perfectly cool with you that U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico are left out of the Republican and the entire nation’s process? Seriously?

  25. 25
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Wow, Bosch and Wright of Derby. What a great combo. Did you know someone is making Bosch figurines! As for Lieberman, good riddance.

  26. 26
    Tom M says:

    Edwards forgot to point out that the good Republicans of Connecticut (70% of Rs voting per CNN exit polls) put Lieberman back in the Senate, not the people.

  27. 27
    Nutella says:

    he was catastrophically wrong in his judgment on waging the Iraq war.

    He IS STILL catastrophically wrong in his judgment on waging the Iraq war. He sneered at Huffington just a few days ago for saying there were no WMDs in Iraq. He is still insisting that there were and that the US armed forces somehow couldn’t find them.

    edited to say- as quoted in full by another commenter above.

  28. 28
    AAA Bonds says:

    Lieberman’s reelection was clearly DOA the day that the Tea Party showed up.

    In his last election, exit polls clearly showed what everyone already knew – Republicans reelected Lieberman.

    He can’t win that three-way race again as an independent, though. His base will be destroyed by any given Tea Party candidate in this climate. It doesn’t matter who that person is, really.

  29. 29
    MattR says:

    @Midnight Marauder: Thanks. Like most other things Lieberman related, I blocked that incident of my head and tried to forget it.

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