Framing Lieberman

Sep 03 2008 Published by under Politics

Matt "Framing Science" Nisbit has a post up that asks a somewhat very loaded question: "Did the Far Left Blogs Turn Lieberman Into a Republican?" In fact, now that I look more closely at the question, I'm starting to notice that the question isn't just loaded; it's loaded on multiple levels. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Matt is a communications guy, and he knows what to do to shape a message (even if he doesn't always manage to do it successfully).

Matt seems to see part of his mission in life as a voice in the wilderness, pointing out all the ways we communicate wrong, and all the ways the Republicans do it right. One of the things that he thinks Republicans do right is "mobilizing" or "activating" their base. One of the things that he thinks we do wrong is in failing to "mobilize" or "activate" the Republican base. Given that, I suppose I should have guessed that he'd find some way to try and saddle us with all of the blame for a situation that many, many other people contributed to.

It's probably a good idea to start things off with a really quick review of the events that took lead us from having Lieberman on the Democratic ticket eight years ago to having him speaking at this year's Republican convention, and shortlisted for their Vice-Presidential nomination. None of this is new, but it does provide the context we need if we want to look at Nisbit's nonsense objectively.

Lieberman ran for re-election in 2006. At that time, there were a large number of people around the country who thought that the war in Iraq was a really bad idea, that the Democratic party had been doing a really bad job of opposing the war, and that something needed to be done to change these things. They began to start making efforts to support anti-war candidates in both general and primary elections.

Joe Lieberman had a primary opponent that year - Ned Lamont. Lamont was anti-war, and received a great deal of support from both Democrats in Connecticut and anti-war Democrats in general. He invested a great deal of time, effort, and money in his campaign, and excited a lot of Democrats. Lieberman did not. Primary day came, and Lamont's efforts paid off.

Lieberman, as we all know, was graceless in defeat. He took a quick look at the election results, flipped his party the bird, and declared that he was going to run in the general election anyway. The Republicans took one look at the situation, and decided that having Lieberman in the Senate would be much, much better for them than having Lamont there. They yanked the rug out from under the anemic candidate they were fielding, and quietly did their best to steer their voters Joe's way. The Democrats, on the other hand, sized up the situation and decided that there was no real reason to put up much of a fight against Joe. He promised that he'd still caucus with them, and that he'd support the party's candidate for President come 2008. They had a chance to gain control of the Senate, but it was going to take everything that they could muster to do it, so they gave Lamont - the party's "official" candidate - little more than nominal support.

The Republicans, as they so often are when it comes to matters of cold political calculation, were right. The Democrats, as they so often are when it comes to matters of cold political calculation, were bloody stupid. Lieberman is full well aware that it was the Republicans of Connecticut who are responsible for his continued presence in the Senate. Viewed in that light, many of his current actions are more than understandable, provided that you assume that he's interested in trying to keep his seat again the next time he comes up, in 2012.

Now, let's look at Nisbit's asinine title.

Let's start with the "far left" thing. The last several times that I checked, support for continuing the war in Iraq fell well below the 50% mark in basically every poll conducted in the known universe since well before the 2006 campaign. The anti-war groups that targeted Lieberman might have been bloggers, but their views on the war were - and remain - solidly within the American mainstream. It's Lieberman who has the extremist views here, not the solid majority of the public.

And, of course, Nisbit is a communications expert, skilled in interpreting and spinning polling data, and is well aware of the views of the American public when it comes to the running fiasco that has been our involvement in Iraq. I suspect that he has chosen to paint bloggers as "far left" extremists not because he's upset about their views on the war, but because they dared to try to actually take some sort of action on their own.

That hypothesis fits in well with the rest of the hack job he's so clumsily attempting to perpetrate here. It's the fault of the extremists that Joe is becoming a Republican. Never mind that the very same New Yorker article that he links to to support his assertion says that Joe had started moving away from the party well before the primary. And, by all means, let's forget that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Matt might think that everything would have been OK if those big bad mean liberal bloggers hadn't targeted Lieberman. Personally, I wonder just how much attention the party would be paying to the concerns that people like you and me raise, had we not shown them just how strong our voice can be when we act together.

13 responses so far

  • Jason says:

    Did you actually read Matt's post?
    He does not seem to form much of an opinion on Lieberman. I certainly didn't get the impression that he actually had a belief one way or another.
    90% of the post is a quote.
    Especially if you read the comments below, your preaching to the choir.
    By the way, why is ScienceBlogs so overrun with political discourse? I come here to read cool updates on science, not partisan political discussions.

  • MikeB says:

    I think anyone who describes DailyKos as part of the 'far-left blogosphere' in his intro has already drunk the Fox News Kool-Aid. The fact that he then quoted the piece without further comment really says it all.
    Jason, when a VP candidate doesn't think that climate change is man-made, when she is the governor of the state which is melting like a Sara Lee cake on a hot day, its clear that political discussion and science collide.

  • Blake Stacey says:

    when she is the governor of the state which is melting like a Sara Lee cake on a hot day

    I'm sure there's a baked Alaska joke in there somewhere.

  • Stagyar zil Doggo says:

    Mike, I'd like to reiterate this suggestion from Blake, made in reference to a previous post.

  • Eric says:

    I come here to read cool updates on science, not partisan political discussions.

    Cool thing about this site - the posts are usually tagged. This one says Politics, some have tags for particular sciences. Read the ones you want, ignore the ones you don't.

  • Onkel Bob says:

    As a former CT resident, I believe it's telling that after Lieberman defeated the maverick Senator Lowell Weicker in 1988, one of his first acts was to vote for restoring Oliver North's pension. (The other Senator, Christopher Dodd voted against the motion.) So claiming Joe suddenly moved to the right during the 2004 primary ignores his obviously previous conservative behavior.

  • Mike Dunford says:

    @Jason:
    I did read the post. I also read the title, and I know that Matt Nisbit's training and career are in the field of communications. The title was not chosen idly. It was part of the message.

  • llewelly says:

    One of the things that he thinks Republicans do right is "mobilizing" or "activating" their base.

    But when PZ mobilizes the atheist base, PZ is doing something terribly wrong, of course.
    As for Lieberman, he's always been right of Reagan.

  • llewelly says:

    By the way, why is ScienceBlogs so overrun with political discourse?

    Because politics is so overrun with anti-science discourse.

  • David Marjanović says:

    Because politics is so overrun with anti-science discourse.

    Bingo. We have a winner.

  • SLC says:

    Re llewelly
    "As for Lieberman, he's always been right of Reagan"
    Mr. llewelly is seriously in error relative to Senator Lieberman. The fact is that the senator is in a tradition of Democrats with liberal domestic voting records and hawkish foreign policy views. As examples, Henry "scoop" Jackson, Paul Douglas, and Thomas Dodd (Chris' foster father). The fact is that, on domestic issues, Senator Lieberman is pretty much a conventional Democratic liberal who, if he were actually a Rethuglican, would be by far the most liberal senator in that party. One need only check his voting record as analyzed by both liberal and conservative groups to verify this assessment.
    His support for the administrations' foreign policy would be considered conservative. However, consider that even the very liberal Paul Douglas was an enthusiastic supporter of the Vietnam War, which support eventually cost him his senate seat.

  • DaleP says:

    SLS said:
    However, consider that even the very liberal Paul Douglas was an enthusiastic supporter of the Vietnam War, which support eventually cost him his senate seat.
    Another important factor in his defeat was his support of Open Housing provisions in the Civil Rights laws fo the 1960's. See Rick Perlstein quoting some of the letters Douglas received in the year before he was defeated.
    http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/meaning-box-722

  • Metro says:

    It may safely be said of Floppy Joe, as it was originally said of Ralph Nader, and as it may indeed be said of anyone who still supports the Republican McAncient/Psycho ticket:
    "He is a worthless Judas Goat with no moral compass."
    ~Hunter S. Thompson
    It's no longer about what's best for the USA. It's about how to cling to power long enough to enrich their backers. If the US elects the Republican ticket, the only solution will be for the UN to supply financial aid and facilitate the building of a high, thick wall at the border, in order to contain the infection.