I was just reading about how uber-wanker Marshall "Bullmoose" Wittman has been hired by wanker extraordinaire Joe Lieberman, and saw a few “centrist” types on Yglesias’ message board insisting that both Wittman and Lieberman are in the center of the political spectrum. And as I pointed out, the label “centrist” itself is nothing but a ruse designed to paint all non-centrists as extremist-fruits destroying America through their zealous extremism.
But that’s the kind of unprovable thing that makes arguing so stupid. If someone’s so blind that they actually think centrists form some sort of majority, then it’s fairly hopeless to bother attacking the very premise of centrism itself. Namely, that it represents a popular middle position between the two parties, rather than a right-leaning ideology of specific beliefs that aids Republicans. And too often, it merely refers to Democrats who are secretly softcore Republicans, as well as Republicans who like to please the Beltway pundits. In both cases, they’re similar to regular Republicans, except that their anti-Dem rhetoric is much softer and fine-tuned. Or Republicans who play nice.
But again, that’s not provable to people who have already adopted the basic premises of centrism. But there was thing you can prove: Numbers. And when one of the “centrists” suggested that Joe’s centrism was proven by his win this year, I went to the exit poll data to see how things really worked out. And sure enough, the exit polls show that Joe got a strong majority of Republican voters while being rejected by an equally strong majority of Democrats. Without any doubt, had Republicans supported their own candidate instead of Joe, Lamont would have won instead. And this served to prove the original point, that Lieberman is a Republican in Dem clothing; but that his popularity is dependent solely on his ability to lap-up Republicans who don’t have a better option.
Tale of the Tape
Here’s the exit poll breakdown from CNN:
Lamont - 65%
Lieberman - 33%
Schlesinger - 2%
Lamont - 8%
Lieberman - 70%
Schlesinger - 21%
Lamont - 35%
Lieberman - 54%
Schlesinger - 10%
And as that makes clear, Lieberman’s strongest support came from Republicans, who preferred him by an even larger margin than Democrats’ support of Lamont. My own calculations based on the poll info shows that a 36.5% of Lieberman’s vote total came from Republicans. In contrast, only 25.2% of Joe’s votes came from Democrats. So where is the centrism? And when one factors-in the centrist-media factor, which had pimped Lamont as an anti-war extremist, as well as the fact that Joe was the more experienced campaigner and the incumbent, there is little to suggest that Joe’s “centrism” was the real winner here. And finally, there can be little doubt that, had Joe officially ran as a Republican, he would have gained Republican votes and lost Democratic votes. And that also would likely have lost him the election.
One Joe supporter suggested that Joe’s votes came from all sources. Yet, these numbers belie that point. Sure, Dems supported Joe; but it was the Republican vote that clearly won things for him. If anything, I suspect these people are suffering from a mind-game, in which Joe’s support from Republicans is so counter-intuitive that this shows how widespread his support is. Somehow, they’ve failed to recognize that this is our very compliant: That Lieberman’s so far to the right that he’s not really a Democrat at all. Sure, it’s lofty to woo people from the other side, but not if it’s at the expense of your own. At some point, you’ve just changed sides, and Lieberman hit that point and kept going.
Several other “centrists” asserted without any evidence that guys like Ben Nelson, who win Senate seats in states that lean against their party, will show similar numbers to Lieberman’s. IE, that they’ll receive a large percentage of voters from the other party. But that’s obviously false and isn’t even a proper analogy. Because we’re not just talking about people who receive a good size of the opposition, but a large majority of the opposition. And on top of that, losing a large majority of their own party. And finally, in a state that leans against them, as opposed to Lieberman which should lean in his direction. And that’s an entirely silly argument, and a strong sign that these people are the same desperate deceivers as Lieberman himself.
But arguments aren’t the same as numbers, so I crunched a few numbers. Like Nelson, for instance, who several “centrists” said would show similar numbers. But they didn’t. Republicans make up 50% of Nebraska, compared with 27% Dems. Yet Nelson got 96% of Dems and 42% of Republicans. And sure, 42% Republican is high. But not compared with Lieberman’s 70% of Republicans. And the fact that Nelson could get such a high percentage of cross-over votes, yet still retain almost all Democrats doesn’t compare with Lieberman’s pathetic 33% at all. Yet Nelson was running in a heavily Republican state, while Lieberman was running in a Democratic state. So this comparison only serves to embarrass Lieberman further by showing how odd his favoritism by Republicans is.
We see another example in the the Burns-Tester race in Montana. Montana is a Republican leaning state, with a 39% to 32% Republican edge, yet it was won by the Democrat. How? Entirely because he had a huge advantage in independents, as well as strong support from his own party. Tester won 91% of Dems, 11% of Repubs, and 59% of independents. It was his strong support from his party and independents who helped him win. Burns, his opponent, received a similar amount of Dem votes, at 7%, but only got 35% of independents. That made the difference.
For the next comparison, I had to turn to 2004, to the Dorgan-Liffrig race in North Dakota. North Dakata has a 41%-28% Republican advantage, but was won by the Democrat. In that race, the Democrat pulled in 99% of Democratic vote, 37% of Republican vote, and 83% of Independent vote. Needless to say, the Dem crushed his opponent in a Republican state, though he only received 37% of Republicans.
Well how about the other Senator from Connecticut? Did he need Republicans to win in 2004? Of course not. He blew-out his opponent, carrying 93% of Democrats while getting a relatively hefty 26% of Republicans. And again, if there’s any comparison to Lieberman’s numbers, it’s that they did the opposite. That Joe relied heavily on Republicans and barely got the Dems at all. What a centrist!
And finally, in Lieberman’s previous race in 2000, we see that, absent a better alternative in the main race, he pulled in a whopping 100% of Dems and 86% of Republicans. And remember, this was the presidential election year in which Republicans were slamming him as a liberal while he was off gallivanting across the country to be Gore’s number two. Yet still, his Republican opponent could only manage 14% of Republicans against the guy. No wonder he thought he was presidential timber. Of course, that was the Democrat’s pre-9/11 attitude. Amazing the fuss a war can make between friends.
And if there’s one thing that’s obvious in all these cases, it’s that a large majority of Dems went to the Dem, and the Republicans went to the Republican. Except in Lieberman’s case. He got a huge majority of Republicans and a fairly small minority of Democrats in 2006. And sure, he got more Dems than most Republicans did; but that’s not the point. The point is that his numbers look like a moderate Republican’s in a Democratic state, and the reason is simple: He is one.
And the fact that he looks like that in a Democratic state is all the worse. We can excuse this in the case of someone like Nelson, even though he didn’t need to rely on Republicans to win. But in Lieberman’s case it’s just pathetic. The “centrists” have borrowed a page from the media in thinking that if both sides hate you, that you must be doing things right. But in Joe’s case, it’s even worse, because both sides don’t hate him. Only the people of his own party do. But the Republicans clearly loved him, giving him 84% in 2000 and 70% in 2006. So if mutual hatred is a sign of centrism, then Lieberman loses that test as well.
In the end, this is strong evidence that “centrism” is nothing but a political label designed to explain why Lieberman can call himself a Dem while supporting the other side. Some people see this as a sign that Lieberman’s not extremist, but unless they’re suggesting that 70% of Connecticut Republicans are more centrist than 65% of Connecticut Democrats (an argument which itself suggests a strong lean to the right), the facts dispute that argument.
On a final note, the saddest part of all this is that not one “centrist” on that board expressed any kind of surprise when confronted with these numbers. Instead, the few who noticed them attempted to spin them as a win for Joe’s claims of being in the center. Because his numbers were slightly more middle-ground than most other Senators. Somehow, it just didn’t faze them that their hero Joe was heavily preferred by Republicans. It’s as if they’ve already bought into the spin that Republicans are more centrist-oriented than Democrats; and they probably already have.
And I wasn’t looking for some sort of capitulation. But surprise was certainly in order. Or a “yeah, that looks bad but” argument. But somehow they kept trying to spin this as a win for Joe, as if the fact that he did poorly with his own party and good with the opposition is proof that he’s in the center. Instead, it only showed what lying gits the so-called centrists are. Give them a bucket of piss and they’ll call it lemonade. It’s like they’re all destined for that three-way tie for third. It’s ironic that Lieberman always blamed Gore for their loss in 2000, yet that was his best shot for ever getting into the Whitehouse; but only because his own party won’t have him.