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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

The Bush Democrat

(Reprinted from the issue of August 17, 20096)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo 
for The Bush DemocratIf he runs as a third-party candidate in November, Joe Lieberman may yet keep his Connecticut Senate seat, despite his thumping in the closely watched August 8 primary; but he has lost his party.

DemocratAn incumbent’s defeat for his own party’s nomination, however narrow, is a bad sign. Only six years after he ran for vice president, Lieberman has dramatically lost his mojo. Now he has been defeated by a rich upstart, Ned Lamont, and other Democrats are rallying unsentimentally to the victor.

DemocratAt times democracy does have its vindictive satisfactions, and Lieberman’s desperate attempt to claw his way back into his party’s favor during this campaign offered some grim amusement. His theme, after five years of cheering on President Bush’s war amounted to “I am too a Democrat!”

DemocratYou almost have to pity him. It’s not as if the other Democrats had opposed the war from the start. Only two years ago, John Kerry could offer only “nuanced” reservations about Bush’s conduct of it, “nuance” being a favorite word in the blue states for any subtle distinction without a practical difference. Lately Lieberman has been stressing lots of nuances between himself and Bush.

DemocratIt didn’t help him that his most vocal supporters were Republicans, the drive-by conservatives of talk radio, who love him precisely because he favors Bush’s war even more than the president’s party does. As Lieberman insisted that he is no Bush lackey, these blowhards exalted him for being, in effect, a Bush lackey at a time when Bush lackeys are a vanishing species.

DemocratPoliticians of both parties are distancing themselves from Bush. The Republicans seeking reelection this year avoid mentioning his name; the Democrats are banking on fury at him. Lieberman is the only Democrat who had to try to deflect that fury from himself. Deny it as he may, he has been Bush’s Democrat.

DemocratIt’s tough enough being a Bush Republican. Strange to recall that even this year Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard could publish a book praising Bush as “rebel-in-chief” and hailing his “strong-government conservatism” as the wave of the future.

DemocratWhatever else Lieberman’s defeat means, it can only be a dreadful omen for the Republicans this fall. Democrats, independents, and many Republicans agree, with varying degrees of passion, that this presidency ranks among the most unfortunate in American history. With every passing week it looks further beyond any hope of recovery.

Condi Agonistes

The administration is still insisting that what’s going on in Iraq isn’t yet a civil war, appearances to the contrary, as Condoleezza Rice struggles to arrest the spreading disaster in Lebanon. Once again the administration finds itself in an impossible situation it wasn’t prepared for.

DemocratWith her indefeasible optimism, Rice chooses to describe that situation as “the birth pangs of a new Mideast.” Just be patient, everybody; democracy is on the march!

DemocratWhat a curious figure she is. As a diplomat, she forgoes dignity for glamour, wearing dominatrix boots to show off her legs like some fashion model. What a contrast with her predecessors, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright. Going further back in history, I don’t recall Dean Rusk dressing like that — nobody ever called him funky — and even the spruce Dean Acheson settled for pin-striped trousers.

DemocratHer approach to the new Lebanon horrors Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes 
them!is characteristically moralistic, deploring the violence while siding entirely with the Israelis. The inevitable result, with every new Israeli bomb, has been to isolate America further against the Muslim world and to increase Hezbollah’s popularity (and Iran’s influence) in the region.

DemocratThe Israelis, understandably and predictably, don’t feel that America’s worries are their concern; for them the only issue, as always, is their own survival. If this leaves Rice and her boss holding the bag, too bad.

The Gibson Case (Continued)

Given all the other things claiming our attention, the Mel Gibson furor has been of surprising intensity.

DemocratOnly Gibson himself has noticed the primary fact: that he was fortunately arrested before his drunken driving killed somebody. If a terrible accident had resulted, it could hardly have caused more indignation than his remark about Jews causing wars.

DemocratYou wonder if his detractors have ever met a drunk in full cry. I have, alas, and I wouldn’t be amazed if you have too. Most of them say things which, if coherent at all, make Gibson sound like a suave diplomat.

DemocratAnyway, he wasn’t addressing the public; he was speaking to the police, including a Jewish officer — the only one, after all, to whom he owed an apology for his offensive words, even if his many enemies seized the occasion to act injured.

DemocratMoreover, there are a number of odd features and questions about this case. Was Gibson followed? Or under surveillance? Why was such a detailed (six-page) report written about what was apparently, after all, a routine drunk driving arrest, and how did it reach the media? Was it Gibson who initiated the conversation? How well did he himself recall the exchange?

DemocratWe may never know, and the official story may be quite accurate. But in these cases there is nearly always more than meets the eye.

The Future of Fidel

Nearly overlooked amid all the week’s uproars was the continuing mysterious infirmity of Fidel Castro, pushing 80. Only exiled Cubans seem to remember what a nasty ruler he has been. Exiles, in fact, have always been Communism’s chief export.

DemocratFor decades Fidel was Communism’s Boy Wonder, charming journalists and impressing Hollywood, while Communism has lately been upstaged by terrorism as the focus of American foreign policy. He has also been lucky; after the collapse of his Soviet patrons, he has found a new sugar daddy in Venezuela’s oil-rich Hugo Chavez. Suddenly he is a frail greybeard.

DemocratIt isn’t too early to address the practical question of how Castro should be memorialized. How about a Lenin-style mausoleum, preserving his remains under glass for the veneration of posterity? Plenty of the world’s progressives, including Americans, would flock to Havana to pay their respects to this hero of the Revolution.

DemocratIs there a tiny gap in your library? Regime Change Begins at Home — a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian — is just off the presses! And we’ll send you a free copy if you subscribe to SOBRANS for one year (at $44.95) or two ($85.00). Call 800-513-5053 to order by credit card or check, or send payment to P.O. Box 1383, Vienna, VA 22183. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, call my office a call and request a free sample. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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