As usual Brooks produces sweeping generalizations about the state of politics from next to nothing in his latest column. He argues that the Lieberman challenge is proof of a drastic change:
This isn’t a fight between left and right. It’s a fight about how politics should be conducted. On the one hand are the true believers — the fundamentalists of both parties who believe that politics should be about party discipline, passion, purity, orthodoxy and clear choices. On the other side are the quasi-independents — the heterodox politicians who distrust ideological purity, who rebel against movement groupthink, who believe in bipartisanship both as a matter of principle and as a practical necessity.
The Lamont challenge is, without a doubt, a lot of things, but it is hardly a fight about how politics should be conducted. Rather, there is a large group of voters who dislike Lieberman’s political stances, which range from useless, to lame, to pretty controversial for a group of energized Democrats (or crazy fucking liberals) that backed Lieberman’s opponent in the 2004 Presidential Primary. On top of that, Lieberman has definitely carried himself throughout the race as someone too good to be challenged. That does nothing to win over voters, especially ones upset with your policies.
Sure, Lamont has made this a one issue campaign, and that has done a lot to win over fringe Democrats, but Lieberman is the one responsible for making this race close. If he loses, it would be entirely his fault–even though I’m sure the Kos crew would take credit.
But I think Brooks is doing a typical move that pundits do when they try to come off as embattled centrists. They always lament the supposed death of centrism and political independence. But let’s get real; political independence is doing pretty well these days. All the front runners for the GOP Presidential nomination fit the “heterodox” bill (McCain and Giuliani), as does (by Brooks’ standards) the front runner for the Democratic nomination (Hillary). On top of that, we have the success of essentially independent politicians like Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Jodi Rell, and Gov. John Warner, to name just a few.
Brooks does manage to make one good point at the end of his column, though, he says:
But Lieberman has had no choice but to fight, and he will probably prevail. If he doesn’t, and if his opponents go from statewide victory in Connecticut to a national primary assault in 2008, then I hope the Republicans will be smart enough to scoop up what is sure to come — yet another wave of disaffected Democrats looking for a political home.
He is right too, the GOP could make deep inroads in many “blue” states by running lite-Republicans–much like the Democrats do in the South with pro-choice, pro-business Democrats. And, I’d definitely be the type of voter the GOP could win over with a stunt like that.
P.S. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the CT GOP ran an uber-conservative who ended up barely winning after Lieberman and Lamont took each other out with their vitriol? Yeah, I’d laugh for a couple seconds.