In 1968, there was one overriding issue in America, and that was the war in Vietnam. America had what was known as "the peace movement." I am one who was a small part of it - teach-ins, marches, vigils, and politics.Sound familiar? It should. Although we have only had one President involved there have been plenty of co-conspirators in both parties. One of these is of course Joe Lieberman. This brings us to Ned Lamont.
Our president lied to us about that war. He lied about its origin and he lied about its execution and its progress. So did all his aides and most of the national political establishment. LBJ even lied about being for the war. We now know, from various tapes and diaries, that he himself had grave doubts.
His successor also lied about the war in Vietnam. He was an even bigger liar, about all things, but especially the war. "Vietnamization" was a lie. He lied about expanding the war into Cambodia. His government lied about Agent Orange. It lied about the Christmas bombings of North Vietnamese hospitals. And Richard Nixon was seemingly not agonized by the killing, as LBJ was.
Last Friday, some of us at the JI spent 90 minutes with Ned Lamont, a former Democratic selectman from Greenwich, who is challenging Joe Lieberman for the Democratic Senate nomination this year. Lamont is for real. Believe it. But he's not running against Lieberman so much as he is running for the Republic - for the proposition that we retain our citizenship and adhere to the Bill of Rights, even if bad guys attack us.Lieberman has indeed been an active co-conspirator.
Of course, Joe Lieberman is to Connecticut politics what Toyota is to the auto industry. He has rolled along, flawless, unperturbed, and inviolate for so long that it is hard to imagine that he could ever really be challenged.
And yet something is happening.
There is a rumbling out there, and Lieberman himself hears it. Indeed, he has become uncharacteristically petulant and defensive.
And I think the reason for the rumble and the senator's ire is the same: Lieberman cannot make sense of his own defense of U.S. government policy in Iraq.
Yes, and virtually every day another atrocity occurs in Iraq - summary executions, burned bodies, beheadings. Twenty dead here or 30 there. When such things happen every day you may call it civil war or chaos or just a very bad scene, but you can't call it a success.It's about more than the war, it's about Democracy itself.
Lieberman has been consistent on the war. He has said consistently that things are getting better in Iraq; that we have to get behind George Bush as the commander-in-chief; that Bush's critics treat him as if he were the enemy; that we have to be united behind our military. All of these are old Vietnam-era justifications for foreclosing dissent and debate. And if you look back at the people who employed them then, they were either cynics who didn't believe what they were saying or militarists who did not believe in democracy, at least not during war.
Well, we found out the hard way during Vietnam, and we have learned again during this war, that the citizens can never afford to give the commander-in-chief or his aides a blank check. It is important that the public question its government, especially in time of war. Because sometimes the execution of war policy is incompetent, and sometimes the policy is fatally flawed and based on false premises, and sometimes it is buttressed by lies.Lieberman loves to go visit his friends at FOX News and is as quick to call those who oppose the war traitors as any Republican. It appears the fine folks in Connecticut are not going to buy it.
Even during war, we keep democracy.
Joe Lieberman keeps saying that his position has been misrepresented and he has been misquoted by his critics. But I have combed the coverage of the campaign, thus far, and cannot find a single example of his views being distorted or his quotes taken out of context. As I read him, what Lieberman has said, all along, is that we should accept this war and what our president tells us. Suspend citizenship. Ask the questions when the war is over.A Lieberman loss will be a bigger blow to the neocons than any single Republican loss. Had enough yet? Stop the lies-support Ned Lamont.
And that is what gives Lamont his issue.
Democrats in Connecticut hate the war in Iraq. It is the one overriding issue of 2006.