Bravo, Connecticut: Joe, Ned, and the Iraq War

The front-page of the news yesterday announced that the incumbent Democratic senator from Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman, had lost his party’s primary election, only the third time this has happened to a sitting senator in 30 years. Normally, voters decline to return their representative to congress only in the most egregious cases of misconduct; and even then it’s difficult to unseat a long-time politician with seniority on important committees, particularly those who can bring pork home to constituents. Our system is set up roughly like this: Once you’re in, you’re golden. It’s even more remarkable for the incumbent to be defeated by a member of his own party.

The man who managed this rare feat is, from what one can gather, another nicely packaged rich guy. Ned Lamont made a fortune in cable television, and now he wants to “give back” through public service. He’s never run for anything meaningful; he’s never held public office; he’s not a professional bureaucrat. He’s just a man who had seen enough. Lamont ran (and won) on a single issue: Joe Lieberman’s staunch support for the war in Iraq. Promulgating this criminal enterprise is wrong, Lamont asserted, and the last thing members of the Democratic Party ought to be doing is pledging more money, more weaponry, more lives to this obscene folly.

Connecticut voters agreed with the challenger, and Joe Lieberman, once his party’s nominee for Vice-President (running alongside Al Gore), is out of a job. Lieberman vowed to run as an independent, and he expressed much outrage with the election results, they not being commensurate with the years of service he has given to his home state. But the message has been well sent: Get in bed with those who would waste billions of taxpayer dollars on a badly conceived, poorly executed “war,” and be prepared to face the consequences at the polls.

Some commentators — and fellow politicians — decry the results in Connecticut, saying the inexperienced Lamont had “found one issue” and made an election out of it. This may be true. And if it is, Lamont’s victory should serve as a clarion alarm to Democrats who think that “supporting our troops” is the best way to curry favor with voters. Americans are increasingly outraged at the miasma our country has created and remains stuck in over in Iraq. Thousands of lives are being lost, and for what? There is no war being fought there; there is no national security issue at stake (at least not for the United States); there is no humanitarian crisis beyond that which our presence has caused. The bloodshed in Iraq is not a “war on terror.” It is a police action that causes terror.

America’s occupation of Iraq is a tragic mistake that’s wasting resources — both financial and human — and slowly wrecking our economy. Any sentient person ought to be bitterly opposed to the continuance of this horrible quagmire, not the least of whom are members of the “opposition party.” Joe Lieberman failed his constituents. He’s being replaced.

May all politicians who continue to allow the Iraq tragedy to continue pay a similar price. Ned Lamont and the people of Connecticut may have sparked something of a political revolution, one that will change the complexion of our political face, forcing decision makers to shed tears, not blood.

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