Ross Mackenzie

In the Stalin era, Communist Party members perceived as impure — deviationists — were variously read out of the party, decreed forgotten by diktat, rubbed out of photographs, sentenced to forever in the gulag, or shot. These days, ideological purists in the Democratic Party are flattened by the big ol’ leftie steamroller.

That’s what happened Tuesday to Joe Lieberman — the Connecticut Democratic senator who was Al Gore’s vice-presidential running mate six years ago.

Lieberman’s defeat in the Democratic primary is viewed broadly as indicative of how President Bush and the Long War on Terror will play in the congressional elections this fall. Maybe. More likely, it marks the leftist roll-up of moderation in the party’s ranks.

Lieberman is for all intents the party’s last nationally known moderate — and if not the last, then certainly its most visible and symbolic one. His sins — his principal deviations — are: (1) his support generally for President Bush’s policies abroad; and (2) his support for the successful prosecution of the Long War on Terror. Lieberman subscribes to the dominant view of Democrats in the 20th century that hyperpartisanship properly ends at the water’s edge.

Lieberman has said:

— On terror: “I want to get our troops home (from Iraq) as fast as anyone, probably more than most, and as I have repeatedly said, I am not for an open-ended commitment. But if we simply give up and pull out now, like my opponent wants to do, then it would be a disaster for Iraqis and for us.”

— On a Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote last November, much criticized in leftist circles: “I wasn’t thinking as a Democrat. I was thinking as an American senator who went to Iraq and saw some progress and wanted to report it to the American people because I feel so deeply that the way this ends will have serious consequences for the future of this country.”

Such views now, as with his 1998 Senate speech blasting Bill Clinton for licentious sex with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office, are deemed unforgivable by the high priests behind the curtain in the leftist confession booth. And so — by presumed bipartisans — was the public peck he received from the president following the 2005 State of the Union address.

Gore and John Kerry refused to endorse Lieberman in the primary. Hillary Clinton backed him but said should he lose, she would not back him in precisely the independent run he announced immediately following his primary defeat. That is the same sniveling position taken by Virginia’s Gov. Tim Kaine (giver of this year’s State of the Union response — remember?) in an election-eve conversation with reporters.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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