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April 11, 2006
Connecticutting Their Nose

Joe Lieberman once represented the Democratic Party on a national ticket that came within an ace of winning the White House. He donated a million dollars back to the Connecticut Democratic Party in the same year when he won re-election to the Senate while just missing as Vice-President. He has, for the most part, voted with his caucus, usually deviating only when the nutcases and die-hard obstructionists take over. What does Lieberman get in return? The brother of the national chairman campaigning for a primary rival:

At the Connecticut Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey fund-raising dinner last month, James H. Dean was among the guests invited to sit at the table of Ned Lamont, a Greenwich cable television executive who is planning a primary challenge to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman over the senator's support for the war in Iraq. ...

Mr. Dean lives in Fairfield, near Greenwich, and he has known Mr. Lamont for years. But what makes his support for Mr. Lamont notable are his deeper, familial ties: He is the brother of Howard Dean, now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

While Howard Dean campaigns to win control of Congress for the Democrats this fall, his younger brother is now chairman of Democracy for America, the liberal grass-roots political action committee that Howard Dean created out of his 2004 presidential campaign.

Now, James Dean is roiling Connecticut's Democratic establishment by working to deny the party's nomination to Mr. Lieberman, a three-term incumbent and the party's 2000 vice-presidential candidate.

While the RNC refuses to assist Stephen Laffey against Lincoln Chaffee, a member of the Republican caucus far less loyal than Lieberman is to the Democrats, the one-time VP nominee finds his own party targeting him for one reason only -- his support of the war in Iraq. The Democrats intend to send a message to anyone who dares to step outside the pacifism-at-all-costs tradition of the party since Henry Jackson left Congress. Make no mistake about this; James Dean works for his brother, owes his position in DoA to Howard, and would not be campaigning in Connecticut unless Howard wanted it so. Dean the Younger claims that Howard will "stay out" of the primaries, but Howard has that luxury as long as Dean the Younger keeps acting as his proxy.

There is nothing wrong with a primary challenge, and if the party wants to support a challenger against an incumbent in the primaries, that's their right. This arrangement tries to hide that support, however, and the hypocrisy fairly rolls off the New York Times report. The Democrats try to pretend that James Dean is some sort of loose cannon, completely unaffiliated with his brother, in order to hide the shunning that the national party has given Lieberman. It's transparent, and pretending any different assumes that the rest of the world is blind.

That's why Lieberman didn't dismiss the notion of an independent run this weekend. He knows very well that the national party has abandoned him and will only reluctantly support him in the fall if he wins the primary. He just sent a reply to the message that James Dean's efforts sent to Lieberman -- that disloyalty works both ways. After carrying water for Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry, Lieberman's loyalty to the party has apparently and understandably reached its limit with the Deans.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 11, 2006 6:18 AM

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