Friday, January 06, 2006

Non-Partisan Partisan

The Moose extols the political value of non-partisanship.

The always thoughtful and perceptive editor of the New Republic, Peter Beinart, has written a thought provoking piece on lefty rage against Senator Lieberman

Explaining Lieberman hatred, Beinart writes,

"But, politically, rhetorical differences matter. In fact, they are at the heart of Lieberman-hatred. Lieberman's heresy isn't ideological; it's temperamental. He loathes confrontation, he exudes goodwill toward all; he takes it as an article of faith that what binds us together as Americans is more important than what divides us, always. He is chronically happy with American life. During the 2004 campaign, he wanted to be liked by Al Sharpton, and he was. Today, he wants to be liked by George W. Bush, and he is."

It is a commentary on American politics that a politician who "exudes goodwill" excites hate from a faction of his own party. This is exactly why more and more Americans don't identify with either party and abhor the current state of politics. However, increasingly politicians from both parties pander to the haters and the activists loathe the uniters. Undoubtedly, the fair-minded Beinart will earn the enraged opprobrium of the left wing fever swamp with his balanced piece.

Beinart, goes on to criticize Senator Lieberman for shunning partisanship,

"Behind Lieberman's obsession with national unity is his deep conviction that the United States is at war--not just in Iraq, but around the world. The war on terrorism is his prism for viewing Bush. And it drains away his anger at the president's misdeeds, because they always pale in comparison to those of America's true enemy...

"What both Lieberman and the Lieberman-haters have lost is what the great social democratic critic Irving Howe called "two-sided politics." Liberals are engaged in two different struggles--one against illiberalism at home, the other against an even more profound illiberalism abroad. Both must be fought with passion. Neither can be subsumed. Each must be sometimes compromised for the sake of the other. It is that moral tension--more than Bush-hatred, and more than wartime unity--that defines the liberal spirit. Let's hope both Lieberman and his critics recapture it in the days ahead."

The Moose, however, rejects the moral equivalence argument between Lieberman and his critics. Partisan politicians are a dime a dozen - there are plenty of voices to excoriate the Bushies. What is rare is a courageous statesman like Joe Lieberman who "obsessively" puts country before party. We need more of them. In fact, the Moose's prime critique of President Bush is that he failed to forge a new politics of national unity after 9/11. With the continuing threats in the world, America desperately needs more politicians like Lieberman who focus on unity rather than division.

Actually, it would be healthy for the Democratic Party to be seen as occasionally playing the role of "non-partisan" partisans. While Republican popularity is plummeting, the American people don't exactly perceive the Democrats as a day at the beach.

It appears to the Moose that the Democrats of '06 are a mirror image of the Republicans of '98. The elephants of '98 were obsessed with Clinton rage just as the donkeys of '06 are inflamed by Bush rage. And to the surprise of the GOP, they were not rewarded at the polls in '98 for their hatred. Clinton rage then was as unlovely as Bush hatred is now.

So, perhaps the Democrats could benefit from a little "non-partisan partisanship." Democrats - help make the American people believe that you always put country before party. It may earn you political rewards.

And let us praise Joe Lieberman for exuding goodwill.
-- Posted at 8:24 AM | Link to this post | Email this post