Primaries and Purges
Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers reacts to the DLC's recent argument against a nationally-driven purge of Joe Lieberman by shouting "hypocrites!" Where, he asks, are Lieberman's defenders when it comes to other primary challenges like Ed Case's against "the arguably more progressive" Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii? Having firmly planted the axiom that the case for Lieberman is all about rejecting the very idea of primary challenges to incumbent Democrats, Chris fulminates for a while about "establishment" types trying to deny Democratic voters their legal right to choose their nominees for office.
I respect Chris Bowers, but this time he's missing a very basic point. The DLC is not arguing against the right to "primary" incumbents; if Connecticut Democrats want to replace Joe Lieberman with Ned Lamont or anybody else, that's fine by me. It's the national effort to dump Joe, evidenced by the heavy involvement of national organizations like MoveOn and Democracy for America, that's objectionable. And as Chris knows, much of the progressive blogosphere is nearly as obsessed with the Lamont candidacy as it is with delivering a Democratic Congress this November, for reasons that have zippo to do with the vindication of the sovereign rights of Connecticut Democrats to choose whomever they want (has anyone other than Ned Lamont himself pledged to support Lieberman if he does win the primary? If so, they're pretty quiet about it). The level of abuse being aimed at Lieberman is, quite frankly, a close second to the abuse being aimed at George W. Bush.
Comparing the national effort to get rid of Lieberman to Ed Case's primary challenge to Daniel Akaka is just weird. But Chris is determined to follow the line of argument. A few weeks ago, he said this:
If anyone has the gall to claim that progressives are wasting Democratic resources in 2006 by challenging incumbents like Lieberman, just point to Hawaii where conservatives are doing the same thing. How dare the DLC waste Democratic resources like this! Don't they know the real target should be Republicans?
Upon reading this post at the time, my first thought was "Huh?" Aside from the fact that the DLC doesn't raise money or endorse candidates or recruit volunteers, I'm quite sure nobody at the DLC was more than dimly aware of the Case challenge to Akaka, which is apparently more about Akaka's age than anything to do with ideology. This is clearly not a "nationally-driven purge," just as it's equally clear the anti-Lieberman campaign is exactly that. And any "so's your old man" argument to the contrary is a bit like saying that Super Target is identical to Super WallMart because they sell some of the same items.
Primaries are fine. Purges are not, and I don't think there's much doubt which is which when it comes to the intraparty politics of 2006. --