THE POLITICS OF...

THE POLITICS OF DISLIKE I was going to let the latest Jon Chait column on Lieberman pass, as I think enough pixels have been spilled on this point, but I'm just baffled by his defense of the piece, which seems to take the weakest parts of the original document and exaggerate its flaws.

Jon makes a strong argument that the electoral outcomes of Lamont's primary challenge are, in their way, almost all bad. If Lieberman wins, his worst instincts are strengthened and his distaste for the left (if possible) even more deeply entrenched; if he loses, he'll be a conservative martyr. Worse, the seat now has a slight possibility for a Republican pick-up. All granted. And if Chait were arguing that Lamont and his backers were proving poor tacticians, or under-committed to a Democratic majority, that'd be fine. But he isn't.

Chait's central plank is that the challenge to Lieberman lays bare the agenda, and operating procedures, of the Netroots. In his article, he laments that the Netroots "believe that any deviation from the party line--except for a few circumscribed instances, such as Democrats running for office in red states--is an unforgivable crime. They have consigned large chunks of the center-left to enemy status." In his post, he clarifies this, saying the two absolute issues are opposition to Iraq and belief in the Netroots, and he fears Markos will create a Norquistian regime based on blind fealty to these policy planks.

And yet, he provides absolutely no evidence for this claim. Worse, particularly for a methodical and devastating debater like Chait, he admits no counter-evidence. Yet Dianne Feinstein, Tom Carper, Herb Kohl, and Maria Cantwell all voted for the war, all ignore the blogs, are all up for reelection, and have all escaped the vigorous enmity of the Netroots. I'd love to hear why Chait thinks these Democrats have escaped the watchful eye of Sauron Markos while Lieberman so attracted his lordship's ire.

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