Commentary Magazine


We’re Already There

Joe Lieberman’s party allegiance is a much-discussed issue. One of the most interesting moments of Sen. Lieberman’s lecture last night came when he described his reason for staying in the Democratic Party.

As others here have mentioned, Lieberman believes it’s important for both parties to have strong national security wings. It’s frustrating to witness the Democrats’ shabby treatment of Lieberman, but his point is important. Lieberman’s going to the GOP would leave the Democrats the official foreign policy softies. National security is more than an ideological issue, it’s a survival issue, and if Democrats and Republican became strictly polarized in this regard, the decision to deal with threats would hinge on party affiliation.

Which is actually what we’re witnessing in the unofficial beginning of the general election, anyway. Barack Obama sees Iran as a “tiny” threat, and American SUV’s as a dangerous liability. John McCain sees Iran’s triple-threat of terrorism, hegemony, and nuclear technology for exactly what it is: deadly. Worse still, Democrats are scrambling to defend Obama’s official position of talking to Tehran without preconditions. The de facto politicization of national security is already here.

Senator Lieberman’s instincts are admirable. Unfortunately, one man, even with courage, does not a wing make. If and when the Democratic Party ever returns to the robust national security platforms of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, it will swing in that direction of its own momentum. Even a man as brave as Joe Lieberman is beyond halting an ideological wilting of this magnitude.