THE REAL LIBERAL LITMUS TEST. Kevin Drum argues that the left blogosphere isn't actually all that liberal, but rather is politically pragmatic except when it comes to the questions of "the war in Iraq and the almost criminal negligence and incompetence of the Bush administration." Today's USA Today/Gallup poll results add some interesting numerical evidence to that assertion. Disapproving of the President, according to the poll, is a position on which liberals agree by a ratio of 9 to 1; 52 percent of conservatives, 28 percent of moderates, and just seven percent of liberals approve of the job President Bush is doing. And, because around 90 percent of liberals do not approve of what Bush is doing, it's not an exaggeration to say that disapproval of Bush could be considered the new liberal litmus test. To the extent that Joe Lieberman is under attack from the netroots (and he most certainly is), it is largely because he has tied himself so closely to the President -- something even Republican members of Congress are leery about doing in the present political environment. Unlike other supporters of the war in Iraq (e.g., John Kerry or netroots hero John Edwards), Lieberman is seen as never having repudiated Bush.

That means Lieberman's path to staying in office, now under threat, is actually more straightforward than it might appear. Lieberman needs to forget about Ned Lamont and start running against Bush. If he can't do that, it's evidence that he has completely lost touch with the moderates and liberals who put him in office, as well as his own political senses. It's Politics 101: Don't tie yourself to a millstone.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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