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Misguided Dems

I've been meaning to comment on this post by Matt Stoller of MyDD last Wednesday because it's a perfect example of why Democrats often seem so misguided. The gist of the post is this: Stoller discusses opposition to Lieberman in the context of the potential fight created by another Supreme Court vacancy. "With a close filibuster vote for a SCOTUS nominee," Stoller writes, "you have to be able be able to bring unbearable pressure on individual Senators. They just have to know that the easy vote has costs."

Stoller calls the decision by NARAL and Planned Parenthood to back Lieberman "craven," and then adds:

In allowing Senator Lieberman to not filibuster Alito and still backing him for his reelection campaign against a reliably progressive candidate, the leaders of NARAL and Planned Parenthood have decided to throw away their political capital.

Let's be perfectly clear: the beef here isn't that Joe Lieberman voted for Sam Alito. He didn't. Only four Dems did: Byrd, Conrad, Johnson, and Ben Nelson.

And the beef really isn't that Lieberman is somehow less solid on choice issues than Lamont. Here's Lieberman's vote rating record with NARAL, Plannd Parenthood and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Assocation over the last 12 years:

Year
NARAL
Planned
Parenthood

NFP&HRA

2005
75
n/a
n/a
2004
100
n/a
100
2003
100
100
100
2002
100
100
100
2001
100
100
100
2000
100
100
100
1999
n/a
100
100
1998
n/a
100
100
1997
n/a
100
100
1996
n/a
100
100
1995
n/a
n/a
100

You simply can't get much more solid than that. (The 75% vote rating Lieberman received from NARAL in 2005 was based on a single vote: to confirm John Roberts. That's the same rating Russ Feingold received, by the way.) So why shouldn't Planned Parenthood and NARAL support Lieberman when he has a virtually perfect voting record on the issues they deem most important?

Because, Stoller says, Lieberman voted in favor of cloture and against filibustering Alito. Think about that for a minute. Eigtheen other Democrats voted the same way as Lieberman, including all six other Democratic members of the The Gang of Fourteen. Lieberman voted to give Alito an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate, and then voted against his confirmation.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the ever growing influence of hardcore progressive activists in the Democratic party. Instead of trying to broaden their message to win more votes, more Senate seats, and ultimately more control over judicial nominations, they're focused on purging moderates and electing more hard-core left wing partisans who are willing to sign on to using extreme tactics to hijack the advise and consent duty of the Senate and to take the judicial nomination process hostage through the use of filibusters.