Memo to Lieberman: It’s the Sanctimony, Stupid


Lost in all the discussion over to what degree Ned Lamont’s victory in the Connecticut Democratic primary does or does not indicate regarding

1) public opinion on the war
2) potential for a reprise of the Eugene McCarthy split in the Democratic Party
3) anti-incumbent fervor
4) Joementum

is perhaps the real reason Lieberman lost. He’s sanctimonious. And he’s opportunistic about his sanctimony.

Now I have no doubt that Lieberman is a religious man, who takes his faith seriously, and that his faith does inform his politics, making him more conservative than some in the DNC on some issues. But there’s a difference between piety and sanctimony. As the editorial page of the New Hampshire Concord Monitor put it:

To say that Lieberman lost merely because of his steadfast support for the war oversimplifies the case. Lieberman has a strong sense of morality that unfortunately can spill over into righteousness and sanctimony. That side came out when he harshly chastised President Clinton over his affair with an intern. It came out again in December when he issued this warning: “It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander-in-chief for three more critical years, and in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”

Of late, Lieberman’s sanctimony has reared its ugly head in his statements that Lamont voters had handed a victory to terrorists, and his self-righteous persistence in staying in the race over the wishes of his constituents and his party. Lieberman may keep his political career alive by going further down the path of sanctimony. Indeed, pundits are already speculating that if he wins as an independent and keeps his committee seats he could find himself as a key Senate tiebreaker, forcing both parties to kiss his ring.

Such an outcome would, no doubt, reinforce Lieberman’s high opinion of himself. But I would argue that what Lieberman’s primary loss might really augur is voter rejection of politicians who lecture us from on high, who wrap themselves in the flag and twist scripture, who are patronizing in their “trust us” statements, who offer no solutions other than their continued “leadership.”

That would be a Joementum we could all get behind.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate