HOLY JOE'S BLASPHEMY. My colleague Harold Meyerson has a nice column today dissecting a particularly astonishing comment by Joe Lieberman. The Holy Nutmegger told David Broder that this election is really a referendum on tolerance. Is the Democratic Party big enough to support pro-war views? If not, then they will die, as have all parties that demanded some sort of basic ideological agreement. Harold cries that "I thought that elections were held to enable voters to choose between candidates espousing different points of view on the most important issues. Lieberman seems to believe that elections exist to enable voters not to choose -- indeed, to 'accept diversity of opinion.' And that if voters have the temerity to go ahead and choose anyway, they have crossed the line between party and sect in their zeal 'to have everybody toe the line. '"
Anyone else think Lieberman's breath must smell a lot like a foot these days? In any case, Joe is actually assuming a time-honored Republican position on elections. Since the right has often had to square a circle by both supporting business interests and relying on middleclass voters, various members of the party have made elections referendums on character traits. I've always particularly respected Jesse Helms's famous dictum that you may not agree with him, but at least you know where he stands. That's right. Elections aren't about policy agreement, but rather how voluble and courageous the candidate is in broadcasting his disagreement. Joe is just pushing the wimpy version of the Helms appeal: Where Republicans highlight their courage, Lieberman is highlights tolerance. And tolerance of the worst, most meaningless sort; the precise sort of "tolerance" for toxic opinions that Joe so constantly decried in portions of the left. Yet here he is, deploying the worst of the PC liberal buzzwords to aid his brutal, misguided war. What a noxious rhetorical twofer.