Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Here's one cheer for the Democrats

Two good things came out of primary elections held in some of the US states. Senator Joe Lieberman (CT) lost his bid for renomination and so did Representative Cynthia McKinney (GA). Both were incumbent Democrats tossed out on their ears by their fellow party members. And for that the Democrats deserve one cheer.

First, to the problems of Lieberman. Quiet simply Lieberman was perceived as being an ally of George Bush. And these days Bush is an albatross to anyone associated with him. It is not for nothing that Republican are playing down their party affiliation and shunning the president. Their problem is that they nominated the man and he leads their party. They can't win with him and they can't really impeach him either.

But Lieberman's association with Bush was self-inflected. He is a Democrat, or at least was one by label. And he was seen as being too supportive of the disasterous invasion of Iraq. Now Lieberman should have noted that the reason the Republicans are scheduled for major defeats is primarily based on widespread discontent about the war. An overwhelming percentage of Democrats are solidly against the war. Most independent voters are against the war and even a large number from the theocon/neocon GOP are against the war. Lieberman's association with the invasion of Iraq made him an easy target.

The one thing Lieberman had going for him was the unjust "campaign reform" laws that limit the contributions any one person can donate to a candidate. This is better known, not as campaign reform, but incumbent insurance legislation. The laws make it very difficult for any opponent to unset a sitting politician. The office holder has huge advantages by holding office which the incumbent can't match unless he is allowed to spend more than the incumbent. On equal footing the advatages of incumbency usually are enough to protect the incumbent. But there is a loop hole which says any individual running for office can use unlimited amounts of his own funds to run for office.

Lieberman has the misfortune of facing a challenge from a wealthy opponent. The man who defeat Lieberman, Ned Lamont, was able to do so because he spent millions of his own cash. This allowed him to get his message out to voters and it resonated sufficiently for him to win and send Lieberman packing. Actually Lieberman, showing his loyalty to his party, has already bolted and announced he will run as an independent. This ought to worry Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger. There are only so many pro-war votes to go around. If all the pro-war votes went to one candidate and all opponents of the war voted for Lamont it would be a landslide. But dividing the pro-war votes between two candidates can't be a winning strategy.

To this day Lieberman must want to strangle Bush. It was a bad sign for the Senator when Bush came to give his State of the Union speech and stopped on the way to the podium to play smoochy-face with Lieberman. The last kiss to cause this much trouble for one man was given by a fellow named Judas.

We liberal/libertarian types can't be too sad at the results. Lieberman had no good points from a libertarian perspective. Joe was an interventionists and he was one consistently. Like Bush he saw no problem with government meddling in absolutely everything. He was no friend to social freedom, not particularly supportive of free markets and a foreign policy interventionist. In other words he was just about the polar opposite of a libertarian. Lamont would have a hard time being worse. But since he ran in opposition to Bush's central planning scheme to remake the world we at least know he's good on something. That puts him well ahead of Lieberman.

On the opposite side of the war issue was Georgia Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney. She was certainly anti-war but she was a loony as well. She bought into all the chic nutty conspiracy theories around. And she claimed that Bush had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks in advance. I find it hard to accuse Bush of knowing anything. McKinney was crazed and not in a good way but in a scary Mel-Gibson-like way. In the primary, earlier this year she failed to get 50% of the vote and was forced into a run off which she easily lost. And even then she made her normal hysterical remarks. McKinney staffers got into fist fights with members of the media on two occassions the day of the election.

In one incident a microphone boom accidentally struck members of the McKinney staff who then went ballastic attacking a reporter and roughing up camera equipment. McKinney, apparently leaving out the context, announced that "My mother was hurt by someone in the press in this room tonight. One of my assistants needs stitches because of the press that are in this room tonight." Her campaign manager, apparently eager to find another conspiracy, hinted the election was stolen. "They got a lot of white votes, a lot of Republican votes and they took some of our votes where we have been stable."

McKinney was in the news not long ago when she tried to enter the Capitol Building without showing her ID. When a security guard tried to stop her she turned around and slugged him.

So the Democrats deserve some credit. They got rid of two candidates who needed getting rid of. They get but one cheer because there is no indication that they intend to run good candidates come November. But then they don't have to. All the Democrats have to do to win is not be George Bush. That will be enough.