Over at Slate, rx Emily Bazelon is listing the reasons she “hates” Joe Lieberman. The reasons illuminate the mind of what Michael Barone calls “gentry liberalism.” What makes Bazelon’s admission so revealing is that she dislikes Joe Lieberman for all of the bipartisan things he’s done over the years. She hates that he constantly voted to prevent Saddam Hussein and later jihadis from killing Iraqis. She hates that he voted in accord with his state’s largest industry (insurance). She hates that he criticized Bill Clinton for sleeping with Monica Lewinsky and lying about it. She hates that he refused to make Catholics kill other people’s unborn babies. She hates that he did not beat Dick Cheney in the Vice-Presidential debate. (Failing to note that Cheney always beats whoever is against him in a debate on national security). Oh, and he voted for less restraints on the securities industry than Bazelon wants.
This is a perfect synopsis of why the gentry liberalism that Bazelon and Slate represent is both toxic and rarely successful outside its coastal enclaves. Joe Lieberman protected the jobs of his constituents rather than march in lockstep to her ideology. He voted against tyranny abroad whenever he could. He always voted for abortion, public funding of abortion, and access to abortion. His one transgression was he was not going to force people who did not want to aide taking a human life in any form to do so. Joe Lieberman voted against every count of impeachment against Bill Clinton, he just pointed out that that was not behavior we expect of a President. Bazelon sees this as a gift to Clinton’s enemies. So a proper Democrat cannot even state that a President sexually exploiting a young intern and then lying about it under oath in a legal preceding is not party policy without bringing down the wrath of Bazelon.
In full disclosure, Joe Lieberman is the last Democrat I voted for in a general election. In 1988, I changed my registration from Democrat to Republican but voted for him over the liberal Lowell Weicker. In 2006, most people I knew in Greenwich voted for the ur-gentry liberal, Ned Lamont. Oh the joy at seeing that wealthy little scion of the smugocracy get crushed by a guy who voted to crush Saddam Hussein – all in liberal Connecticut!
Joe Lieberman is no conservative. But for a quarter of a century he has voted for America’s security over the short-sighted dovishness of his party. His deviations from liberal orthodoxy were few, and more rhetoric than reality. But that was enough to make him a hate figure on the Left. According to Bazelon they have a joking game they play as to why they hate Joe Lieberman. Even if she jests, it is significant that a writer for a liberal outlet feels free, a few weeks after the orgy of civility mongering from the Left, to joke about “hate” for a mild-mannered, sitting Senator from Connecticut. Ezra Klein, of all people, has a balanced, civil, assessment of the Senator from a gentry liberal standpoint. But the comments back up Bazelon.