Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lieberman will be a Republican

I've argued from time to time that Joe Lieberman will not be able to run successfully as a Democrat when his current term is up in 2012. He has made too many enemies among the anti-war Left, and given the likelihood that we will be fighting the war on terror for many years more, the issue won't be in the past the next time he seeks the nomination.

The Hartford Courant provides another reason it will be difficult for him to re-establish ties with the base - he raised too much of his money from the GOP:

Prior to the Aug. 8 Democratic primary, Lieberman received nearly $8 million from all major individual donors, according to data from the Washington-based center. Democrats gave him three times as much as Republicans.

In the general election, in which Lieberman ran as an "independent Democrat," his take from Republicans soared 80 percent. He collected more money from Republicans than from Democrats. And of major donors - giving $200 and more - Republicans exceeded Democrats.

Officially, the White House stayed out of Lieberman's 2006 race, and Lieberman, who today caucuses with Senate Democrats, did not actively seek its support. But the signs from the White House were unmistakable.

"A lot of people would call and ask, `What's our position?"' Charles R. Black Jr. said last week. The former Bush adviser, who remains close to the president, said, "And I'd say, `There's no official position, but if I were you, I'd help Joe Lieberman.'"

This piece has attracted some attention on the Left, and it isn't making them all warm and fuzzy over him:

However, it is clear that for Lieberman, Republicans were always his main base of support. Had he not always been so willing to criticize the left, he would never have been so loved in a Republican town like the political industry in Washington, D.C., and by establishment media that was slowly being dominated by the Republican Noise Machine. At the very least, now that he was forced to win an election via overt Republican support, his ability to speak on behalf of Democrats has been annihilated. Everyone knows in the last election that Joe Lieberman was basically the Republican nominee. This is just the latest evidence supporting that claim.

Lieberman will never be able to rebuild these bridges, and he can probably count on a primary challenge in 2012 if he decides to run again. All the more reason he will ultimately be better off as a Republican.

Update: Lieberman recently conducted this interview, and is getting attention for not ruling out a party switch. The relevant portion starts around 1:30 in.

MS. O'DONNELL: Senator, you have broken with your former party, the Democratic Party specifically, on the Iraq war. There have been questions. Can you rule out that you may switch to the Republican Party?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I wouldn't rule it out, but it's certainly not my intention, it's not my desire --

MS. O'DONNELL: What would cause you to switch to the Republican Party?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm not going to set any conditions. But, you know, my real hope here is to stay and fight for the kind of Democratic Party I joined when John F. Kennedy was president, which was progressive on domestic policy and very strong and muscular on foreign and defense policy. I --

MS. O'DONNELL: But, Senator, arguably, there's not one Democratic presidential candidate that is espousing that particular position, right?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: So far, right. I mean, obviously, it'll be more than Iraq. It'll be how do they feel about Iran and the rest of the threats that we face.

But, look, the central challenge to our security in our time is from radical Islam, the people who attacked us on 9/11. And to be as direct as I can be, Norah, in this question of who I will support for president, I'm going to wait until both parties have their nominees, and I'm going to support the candidate that I think is best for our country, regardless of party. And obviously the positions that they take on the war on terrorism will be very important to me.

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