You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Why Hagel Isn't Like Lieberman

It's time again to ask that age-old question about Michael Goldfarb: Is he disingenuous, or just stupid? Musing on the fate of Joe Lieberman, Goldfarb writes:

Perhaps Lieberman was more committed to the fight than his counterpart on the Obama campaign, Chuck Hagel, but any sense of proportion has been lost by the hysterics leading the anti-Joe lynch mob. And there are no pitchfork wielding Republicans intent on burning Chuck Hagel at the stake. There was hardly a peep from the right over his heresy because nobody cared.

Maybe there are no Republicans calling for Hagel's head right now because, unlike Lieberman, Hagel's leaving the Senate in a few weeks and is about to become irrelevant. When Hagel was relevant, Republicans seemed to care very much about his apostasy. To wit Dick Cheney's comment to Newsweek at the height of the debate over the surge, which Hagel opposed:

"I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow republican. But it's very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved."

This isn't to say that Goldfarb doesn't (gulp) have a point about the hysteria over Lieberman. Reading some of the liberal bloggers over the last day, they seem to think that the Senate Democrats' (and Obama's) decision to let Lieberman keep his chairmanship was intended as a slap in the face to them. Actually, they don't just seem to think that, they do think that. Here's Jane Hamsher grilling Howard Dean about the decision:

With all due respect, Governor Dean, we were all just told to go screw ourselves.  That our concern for Barack Obama and that our concern about the war and everything else that we fought so hard for within the Democratic Party is meaningless.

And that Joe being happy, and giving into his threats -- and he did threaten the Democrats in his press conference -- is more important than we are.  And so I don't think it was a matter of "reconciliation," I think it was...we were told to go Cheney ourselves.  And I think that that really is the sentiment online.

Okay, I wasn't at the Democratic caucus meeting yesterday and I can't read Obama's mind, but I seriously doubt the desire to screw liberal bloggers was at the top of the list of the reasons these people decided to keep Lieberman in the Democratic fold. Actually, the reasons are pretty straightforward and simple to understand. And even if you disagree with those reasons, it's downright megalomaniacal to just ignore them and instead contend that the decision was really about you.

That said, Goldfarb's contention that "these people are a cancer on the Democratic party" probably, uh, overstates things. After all, it's not like the Democratic candidate for president hired any of them as his deputy communications director.

--Jason Zengerle