It seems Lieberman has finally thrown down the gauntlet and begun to name names of candidates he feels will lead the party in the wrong direction:
Lieberman Warns Party On Ideology
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), expanding a fight among Democrats, attacked former Vermont governor Howard Dean and several other rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, arguing that they have embraced extreme left ideas that threaten to return the party to political exile.
Saying he is in a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, Lieberman said policies rooted in the “vital center” of the political spectrum, not what he termed the antiwar and big government policies of his rivals, provide the only hope of defeating President Bush. He warned Democrats that abandoning the policies that helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 would result in a terrible setback for the party.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Lieberman’s candidacy is dead in the water. There is no chance whatsoever that he will even be a contender come January, because he’s just now employing the strategy I said he should have embraced months ago, and, more importantly, because he doesn’t have the right stuff to pull it off even now.
It’s interesting to note the reaction to Lieberman in the blogosphere, particularly from supporters of Howard Dean — the candidate Lieberman is mainly targeting.
Oliver Willis, a former John Edwards groupie who recently became smitten with the Dean campaign, echoes many Deansters’ comments by basically calling Lieberman a DINO — Democrat In Name Only. “When will Joe Lieberman come out of the closet and admit he’s a Republican?” Willis states. “There will be a vigorous contest for the nomination, but Joe has decided to take the very low road on the way there.”
Then there are the folks over at the fairly unbalanced Not Geniuses, who state Lieberman “needs to join the attacks on Bush and quit his attacks on other Democrats.”
And of course, the Dean Defense Forces are outraged that a Democratic candidate could attack another Democrat:
The real threat to the party’s electability next year is now coming from the desperate attacks by the Lieberman campaign, a campaign that can’t find traction and is now taking pot shots that reaffirm an outdated view of the Democratic Party.
…we think the Lieberman campaign has already entered dangerous territory. Let them know how you feel by writing email@example.com. Tell them you don’t appreciate thinly veiled attacks on other Democrats and you don’t appreciate these dangerous memes that could cost us the election next year.
Let’s understand the dynamic here. As an oft-dismissed gadfly earlier in the campaign, Dean raised his profile by constantly attacking other candidates — so much so that he repeatedly had to apologize for getting the facts wrong. But now that Dean is now the frontrunner rather than the insurgent, such attacks are passé to the Deansters, and even “dangerous” to the party.
Lieberman, who lent respectability to Al Gore’s laughably inept candidacy in 2000, is attacked as a D.I.N.O when he disagrees with the direction of the party. But when Dean attacks Democrats over the direction of the party, as he’s done nonstop for the past year, he gets literary handjobs from swooning bloggers such as Oliver Willis.
I say Lieberman should keep criticizing. He won’t become competitive in the race, but at least he’s starting an important debate — one that John Kerry hasn’t yet had the courage to engage. And as for the Deanies, well, it’s too bad they can’t take criticism as well as they dish it out.