And then there were six…

You know I almost don’t care that the candidate I’ve been most excited about, Howard Dean, took a pasting yesterday.

I almost don’t care because I’m so welled up with glee that Joe Lieberman is out of the race. We have one overly religious wingnut in the White House running to retain his job. The prospect of the November election being a contest between two religious fanatics whose beliefs are dramatically out of step with the majority of Americans just flat out chilled me to the core.

Journalists have gone out of their way to say what “nice guy” Joe Lieberman is. I call bullshit on that. Firstly, if you’re really a nice guy no one needs to say so. Secondly, if he’s such a nice guy why was he the first member of his party to support impeachment of Bill Clinton over a breach in personal morality? If he’s such a nice guy then why does he limit his support for women’s reproductive rights to cases of incest, rape and mortal danger to the mother? If he’s such a nice guy why does he make statements to the effect that the Constitution of the United States does not protect my right to be an atheist (he’s said that the Constitution protects “freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”)? If he’s such a nice guy then why does he thing the Patriot Act was a good idea, that the war in Iraq is entirely defensible, that alienating our traditional allies in the world was a “bold but necessary move,” that on many issues the First Amendment “goes too far.”

Joe Lieberman is a better Republican than most card carrying members of the GOP. Howard Dean called him “Bush Light” but I strongly disagree with that. Bush is at least pragmatic and realistic about how many of his fellow Americans agree with his version of religious morality. Lieberman seems to have no such pragmatism. He was a blight on the Democratic ticket. Good bloody riddance to him.

Unfortunately, the next duck to fall out of formation is probably going to be my pal Howard. Hmmm. Howard the Duck. Interesting.

Anyway…

Poor Howard. I do really enjoy his venom. I’m sick of Democrats who act as if their party isn’t supposed to be in opposition to the Republicans (see my anti-Lieberman screed above). Bill Clinton, for all the wonderful things that happened in this country while he happened to be President, was a lousy Democrat and did a lovely impersonation of a Republican. He courted big business, caved in to corporate interests, made villains out of the poor (no Republican could have ever passed the horrendous and evil welfare “reform” act that he rammed through the congress – if only Nixon could got to China, only a Democrat like Clinton could rip the safety net out from underneath millions of poor folks), and laid the groundwork for the dismantling of the Bill of Rights with his paranoid “anti-terrorism” laws.

If you’re a Democrat it’s your job to defend the poor, the working classes and the underrepresented in our country. It’s the Republicans’ job to defend the corporate interests (actually, it’s not a job they do very well these days, but that’s another matter). Dubya accused Tom Daschle of waging “class war” when he objected to the Bush tax cuts. Damn straight. Too bad Tom Daschle has no more of a spine than most “New Democrats” and couldn’t simply say “yes, Mr. President, I am waging class war. You’re forcing me to by giving handouts to the rich at the expense of the working class, the middle class and the poor. Someone has to defend these people!” That’s why I think Howard Dean was initially so appealing to so many people. His line about how he was the candidate “from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” was pure gold. It resonated with me the first time I heard it, as it did with so many others.

Unfortunately I think Howard Dean became too much of a Johnny One-Note about the Iraq War. It’s an important issue, but as is typically true of folks in this country, people had a very short attention span for that particular subject. Once Saddam was found in his little hole in the ground people simply ceased to care. They’ll start caring again when the Administration misses its target to turn sovereignty over to the Iraqis on June 30 by a wide mark, but until then they care a lot more about jobs, the economy and health care. Those are all issues that Howard Dean shouldn’t have had a problem with, but his campaign staff kept him on the Iraq note way too long. By the time he started addressing other subjects people had tuned out. He was “that guy who won’t shut up about the war, and who voted for what.” If he’d stuck with his basic premise that Democrats ought to be offering alternative solutions to problems instead of trying to take credit for or adopt Republican solutions he’d have had a lot more continuing resonance with the voters, and by now I think he’d have won a couple state primaries or caucuses.

Instead, I’m afraid, he’ll be toast by the end of this weekend. If he doesn’t win at least Michigan I really just don’t see how he can stay in it. He’s out of money and he’s out of momentum. Time to go back to Vermont, lick your wounds and offer your support to Kerry in the hopes that if the Democrats do really run against Bush on a Northern Strategy that he might get a call to be the running mate.

As a final note for today another thing that’s worrying me a bit is Clark. I really wish he hadn’t won Oklahoma. Granted, it wasn’t a convincing win, but it does give him enough traction to make a mess of the rest of the southern state primaries. I don’t really like Clark a lot more than I did Joe Lieberman. He’s a Clintonian “New Democrat” who doesn’t know his political ass from a hole in the ground. If he manages to unseat Edwards as the favorite son of the south during the primaries he’ll make a mess of the convention, and probably put himself in a position to demand the VP job. Now while it would be lovely to watch Dick Cheney try to debate military policy with a decorated General who commanded NATO forces while Dubya (the deserter) is debating a decorated Vietnam War veteran, I don’t like the policies that Wesley Clark stands for or the special interests he’d have riding with him into an administration. Sure, Michael Moore has been flimflammed by him and is singing his praises, but I think that’s just because Moore has fallen in love with the idea of Dubya being forced to run against a career military man running a campaign based on the issue of national security. Besides, entertaining and clever as Michael Moore is, he’s full of shit a lot of the time.

So, here’s to hoping Wesley Clark flames out in Tennessee, trailing Edwards by a huge margin. At least Lieberman is out of it.

Whew.

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