Thursday, August 17, 2006


The triumphant supporters of Ned Lamont, including the Daily Kos and Arianna Huffington, somehow seem to forget that he has only won the Democratic Primary. As Senator McGovern proved in 1972, one can win a Democratic Party nomination supported by the left-wing Party base, and still lose in a landslide in the general election. Right now, polls show that incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman, now running as an independent, has a big lead over Lamont.

With that in mind, we present the following guest column from Paul Kujawsky, the former President and currently the Vice President of Democrats for Israel, and a member of the California Democratic Central Committee. Please note that the views expressed are Paul's own, not those of the Hedgehog Blog. The Kosher Hedgehog, who still maintains his Democratic Party registration in respectful memory of his parents, FDR, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and Henry "Scoop Jackson," has been voting Republican since the 2000 Presidential Election.

By Paul Kujawsky

Joe Lieberman is a politician with a notoriously sunny disposition. But Jewish Democrats (and former Democrats) who support Lieberman’s sort of politics can best help their party and their country by getting mad.

Joe Lieberman, a sensible liberal throughout his political career, was about the best the Democratic Party had on offer. He was thrown over in the Democratic primary by a rich novice who ran on a single issue: the Iraq war. Lieberman supported President Bush because he agreed that Saddam Hussein was evil, that Islamism poses a threat to this country, that our long-term security depends on liberal democracy taking root in the Muslim world, and that retreat will embolden our enemies—genuinely liberal positions. For this, the left wing of the party declared war. They’ve won this round.

Many Jewish Democrats are wondering, If there’s no room in the Democratic Party for Joe Lieberman, what am I doing here? The Republican Jewish Coalition is ready with its answer. It has launched a nation-wide ad campaign that argues, "What was once the radical Left—with its antipathy toward Israel, its indifference to anti-Semitism, and its desire to appease terrorists instead of fighting them—is now emerging as part of the mainstream in the Democratic Party." It’s designed to make Jewish Democrats ask, "Is this the political party I want to be part of?"

The answer remains yes. Don’t give up.

True, one is inclined to grieve over the state of the Democratic Party. The five stages of grief one is supposed to pass through are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Certainly, some Jews are in Denial, at least publicly, about the disheartening state of the Democratic Party. But that won’t do—you can’t fix a problem you won’t own up to.

My recommendation is that people who support Lieberman-style politics and are upset that he lost—call them Liebermaniacs—get stuck in the stages of Anger and Bargaining, and put them to good use.

The leftiest activists are defining the Democratic Party, but they are not actually the weight of the party. Opinion polls consistently indicate that about twice as many registered Democrats consider themselves "moderate," as opposed to "liberal."

These centrists have to get Angry, and become activists themselves. In every race, find the most reasonable candidate and sign up for his or her campaign. Give money and give time. Let politicians know that Democrats demand genuine liberalism, not illiberal leftism. Join Democratic Party clubs, caucuses, committees—be part of the grassroots.

Then start Bargaining. Don’t let the left wing rule the party unopposed. Make demands, submit resolutions, raise objections, engage in debate, and initiate some changes.
The alternative is Depression over the current state of the Democratic Party, and Acceptance of the notion that it can’t change, and switching to the Republican Party.
But giving up on the Democratic Party is inadmissible, for a simple reason: in a country with a two-party system, it’s dangerous if one party completely loses its mind. We must not let that happen.

It’s possible that the Democratic Party has reached a point of no return for Jews who support Israel and see its struggle in the context of the global war against Islamism. But I prefer to see a pendulum, preparing to swing back. It depends on us.


Anonymous FredTownWard said...

Even a life-long Republican like myself has to cheer Paul Kujawsky on and hope he succeeds because he's right: we cannot long survive a situation in which one of our two major political parties is demonstrably insane.

But I would add one thing this Democrat apparently couldn't quite bring himself to advocate: until sanity is restored to the Democrat Party, except in rare cases like this where there is a sane Democrat running as an Independent, Liebermaniacs MUST both for the good of the nation AND the good of the Democrat Party, vote Republican even if they have to hold their noses to do it. After all Liebermaniacs will NEVER recapture their party from the loons if the loons win elections. 

Posted by FredTownWard

Thursday, August 17, 2006 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are incorrect about one important thing. For many of us, Joe's position on the Terri Schiavo tragedy is just as repugnant as his equating of Saddam and 9/11 (the classic GOP position, which lacks an empirical basis) and his support for the WH's trampling of civil liberties (see today's decision in the NSA wiretapping case). When the GOP---you know, the party of limited government?---can barge into my hospice room, with Joe cheering them all the way, that's all the evidence I need to know I want him nowhere near the levers of power. 

Posted by Dan

Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lamont/Lieberman race is a win-win for Pro-Israel activists. While Lieberman is Jewish, which arguably gives him a deeper understanding of Israel, the two candidates' positions on Israel and its right to defend itself are indistiguishable. They both unconditionally support the right of Israel to defend itself.

Posted by Andrew Lachman

Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:16:00 PM  
Anonymous FredTownWard said...

Dan worries about the GOP barging into his hospice room, but if he'd bothered to look into the Terri Schiavo case beyond just how it might effect his own self-interest, he'd realize that the issue there really was can a husband use a corrupt local trial judge to force the state to kill his wife despite ZERO evidence that this was his WIFE'S wish and considerable amounts of evidence that he had previously tried to MURDER his wife? I'm not saying there was necessarily enough evidence to convict Michael of attempted murder but there certainly should have been enough evidence to have kept him from forcing the state of Florida to become an accessory to her murder. This wasn't about the "right to die"; this was about the "right to kill" a person of diminished mental capacity who stubbornly refused to stop breathing on her own so that her husband could keep what was left of the malpractice settlement he had promised the jury would be used to take care of Terri for the rest of her life and marry his mistress and the mother of his two children.

As for Andrew, if he thinks the Lamont/Lieberman race is a win/win for Pro-Israel activists, he is deluding himself. Lamont proposes turning tail and running away from the Middle East. The mere fact that Lamont SAYS that he supports Israel should be about as believable as his claim to be a fiscal conservative. You can't do that much to support Israel when you are hiding under the blankets back here. 

Posted by FredTownWard

Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:09:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Kujawsky said...

I can't entirely agree with my friend Andrew Lachman. I haven't thought it through completely yet, but I am becoming increasingly skeptical that supporting Israel against its enemies is consistent with not taking seriously the war against Islamism. (Not seeing the connection between Iraq and that larger war is unserious.) 

Posted by Paul Kujawsky

Friday, August 18, 2006 3:57:00 PM  

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