There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.The op-ed gets it mostly right. Although they ignore, in reducing Holy Joe’s position on women’s issues to “strongly support[ive of] a woman’s right to choose,” his problematic stance on a woman’s right to get emergency birth control at any hospital. And they don’t plainly state—as Atrios did in his op-ed for the LA Times—the quote that was, I imagine, a turning point for many progressives: “we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Lieberman hasn’t merely “suggested” that there’s no principled space for opposition; he has promulgated that most atrocious Republican talking point which seeks to turn dissenters into traitors.
If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.
A healthy democracy is dependent on allowing for legitimate and principled dissent on national policy. Anyone, of either party, who asserts otherwise—who tries to silence dissent by force or threat or shame—doesn’t belong in Congress.
(The WaPo goes the other way today. Avedon responds.)