Though Lieberman says he will run as an independent, the damage has been done. It will be difficult for any Democrat to seek consensus with any Republican without being targeted as an infidel worthy of electoral death. Our already-poisoned political dialogue has not only been made more toxic, but contagious. Taliban Democrats have effectively issued a political "fatwah" that warns all Democrats not to deviate from their narrow line, or else face the end of their careers through a political jihad. Perhaps the few remaining rational Democrats should put on their burkas now and submit to the will of the party mullahs.
What is wrong with Democrats? Can't they see that when the face of their party belongs to ultra-leftists like George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, they lose? For those who still believe not only in a strong two-party system, but also in compromise and conciliation in order to promote the general welfare and seek the common good, the Lieberman defeat strikes an especially harmful blow.
At the height of social conservative power in the Republican Party, pro-choicers and pro gay rights officials like Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger were featured speakers at GOP conventions. Republican officials described their party as a "big tent" with room for everybody.
Lieberman's loss reduces the size of the Democrats' tent to that of a pup tent. The message it sends is that only those who conform to the left-wing fundamentalist worldview will be allowed in. Is that a message Democrats want to take into future campaigns? Do they wish to pervert John F. Kennedy's vision and instead say that the United States will pay no price, bear no burden and go nowhere in the defense of liberty?
If that is the message the Taliban Democrats want to send to the nation, they have all but guaranteed a Republican presidential victory in 2008 and GOP losses, if any, might not be as bad as predicted this November. Karl Rove could not have devised a more brilliant plan. But Joe Lieberman deserves better.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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