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Category: Joe Lieberman
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
I am currently reading Revolutionary Characters: What Made The Founders Different, by Gordon Wood, which is a compilation of biographical essays. I heartily recommend it. Gordon Wood is a national treasure.

In his essay, "The Greatness of George Washington," Wood describes the first president's frustration with American politics at the end of his long public career. Wood writes of Washington's exasperation with the diminished importance of character and virtue in politics. Decrying the "new" spirit of party, Washington complained, "[i]f the members of the Jeffersonian Republican party set up a broomstick as candidate and called it a true son of Liberty or a Democrat or any other epithet that will suit their purpose, it still would command their votes in toto!" But even worse, Washington understood, the Federalists were no better. This was the disadvantage of the party system.

Watching great Democratic statesman dance around the primary election in Connecticut, exhorting Democratic primary voters to return eighteen-year Senate veteran, Joe Lieberman, to Washington, while at the same time hedging their bets and making it clear that they will support whoever receives the party's nomination, I understand Washington's lamentation.

American politics is cyclical. We are once again in a cycle in which party trumps personality. Our elections are rarely about integrity and "distinctions of character;" they are, to borrow a phrase from Wood, "a world in which parties, not great men, [have] become the objects of contention."
Category: Joe Lieberman
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In his "Talk of the Town" column in next week's New Yorker , posted today online, Hendrik Hertzberg attempted to debunk the conservative claim that the challenge to Joe Lieberman was a "liberal inquisition" connected to the Iraq war.

As proof of his point, Hertzberg hangs his case on reminding us that Joe Lieberman made two fatal mistakes in the last decade: 1) he was not sufficiently supportive of Bill Clinton during the impeachment crisis; and 2) Lieberman did not forego his seat in the Senate in 2000 (while running for VP), which meant if his ticket had won (which it did not), the Senate would have been controlled by Republicans (unless Jim Jeffords defected to the Democratic caucus, which he did).

In addition, Hertzberg calls Lieberman "sanctimonious and hypocritical" for his moralism, reminding us that the Senator divorced his wife while his children were teenagers.

Pretty tough. The long knives are out. I am beginning to wonder if reconciliation will be possible, if Joe survives.

Category: Joe Lieberman
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On one hand, the trial of Joe Lieberman in the upcoming CT primary, August 8, is a perfect example of American democracy in action (click here for some bg and context from the Wash Post). "Throw the bums out!" has been an effective rallying cry for frustrated voters since the earliest moments of American self government. James Madison et al constructed the federal government of the United States to be responsive to the desires of the people. Joe Lieberman has offended a core constituency of the citizenry of CT; therefore, Joe Lieberman must go.

However, the framers divided government into departments, and the departments into distinct institutions, making some sections of the government more responsive to the people than others. For example, the House of Representatives is elected directly by the voters every two years. That keeps representatives in the lower house on a very short leash. The House is rightly the people's conduit to government. Congressman ought to be taking polls and monitoring their phone calls and email, fittingly hyper-sensitive to the will of the people.

The President. Elected by the people every four years (albeit indirectly through the somewhat arcane institution of the electoral college), the president, traditionally, is the one person in the government empowered to represent all the people. The rest of the executive branch works for him and answers to him (or his management team) directly; the enormous executive department, sworn to uphold the Constitution and abide by federal law, answers to the people only indirectly through congressional oversight.

The Courts. Intentionally removed from the election process, judges are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate for life terms. Federal judges are only grazed by the consent of the people--and only once, during the process of nomination and confirmation.

Why all this variation?

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