To add to the post-mortems of the day, my guess is that the relationship between Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party is about to get a whole lot more fraught. Previously, there was a real unwillingness on the part of the party mandarins to go against Joe who, even if he were to run as an independent, would still be bound in the Senate by long ties of friendship and esteem with the Democratic caucus. But now that so many from the caucus have bowed to base pressure and endorsed Ned Lamont — I’m thinking here of Dodd, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry, Bayh, Kennedy, Schumer, Emmanuel, Reid, and Obama, all of whom have stuck the shiv into Joe — Lieberman is apt to feel as betrayed by his colleagues as he does by his voters. That radically increases the chance he’ll switch parties or leverage his independence against his side which, in turn, radically increases the importance that the party kill off his candidacy and ensure Lamont’s election. So Lieberman’s in a rough cycle here — his loss in the primary forced his colleagues to turn on his candidacy which, in turn, forces them to seriously support Lamont lest Lieberman exact revenge.
Ezra seems to think, in this post, that the Democrats are going to have to prevent Lieberman from going completely over to the dark side by taking the Ivan Drago route, and breaking him. I don’t think this is a wise course of action, for basically the same reason I don’t think Bush-style foreign policy is a wise course of action: the “batter them into submission” approach denies all options except fight or submit. Which means if you’re not so keen on humiliation, which people rarely are, you fight, because you have nothing to lose.
Having a betrayed-feeling Joe Lieberman vowing to fight like a cornered wolverine all the way to November in order to Show Them All would be, I assert, sub-optimal. So does Nicholas Beaudrot, guest posting just two entries up at Ezra’s blog:
I guess I didn’t make the obvious point. The more pressing reason for Lieberman to withdraw is to stop making it harder for Democrats to take back the Senate. If that’s your goal, you may have to hand Lieberman a nice “lifeboat” rather than try to push him from the race, a strategy I think might just redouble his resolve and cause him to drift further to the right.
Even though I like to call Lieberman “Fredo,” there’s just no way he’s going to allow himself to be quietly rowed out to the middle of the lake. (As commander-in-chief of this weblog, I have claimed authority throughout this post to torture metaphors.) The best option here is to give him some sort of escape route that will allow him to drop the independent campaign while saving face.