I already commented on this at Publius’ esteemed blog, but I’ve been a little short on the postings lately (due partly to multiple colds hitting me over the holidays, as well as a recent surge in blatant laziness), so I’m converting this to a blog post.
Publius writes of Lieberman’s absurdist op/ed on why we should invade Iran, and ends by saying:
What’s even more maddening is that Lieberman (given the perception of him as a “serious” national security guy) could probably do more than any other Democrat to persuade public opinion that escalation is a terrible idea.
And I agree with much of his post (though I only skimmed the second half), but I'm not sure about the ending, that Lieberman could do alot to persuade folks that escalation was bad, or in any other way help mitigate the disaster in Iraq. Because I'm not so sure it works like that.
Lieberman is considered serious because he goes against what he's supposed to do. As a Democrat, he's supposed to be against Bush's war, so he's considered serious and smart because he supported it and continues to support it; despite everything that shows how stupid it was. But he'd lose that if he started saying what all the other Dems say. Only Republicans are allowed to denounce the war and still be called serious. Even Murtha couldn't escape unscathed from the pro-war smear machine, and Lieberman doesn't nearly have Murtha's war credentials. And now, Murtha's considered to be our guy, despite the fact that he has a fairly conservative record going back decades. All it took was for him to be on the "wrong" side of this one issue, at this one point in time.
That's just the way the media plays it. Were Joe to join the reality coalition, he too would quickly lose his tough-guy credentials; and thus, lose his power. Similarly, had he ran openly as the Republican he is, he'd have lost the race. So he threads the needle as a conservative Democrat, rather than the moderate Republican he is. And I'm sure he's fully aware of that.
If politics is anything, it's about manipulating perceptions, and Joe is quite good at that. Not to shape perceptions, as the Republicans do so handily; but in letting them shape him. Wimps are always good at that. Anything to avoid the wrath of a bully. Bullies give Joe indigestion.