Thursday, January 08, 2004

Where's Marty? Perhaps the only surprising thing about the New Republic's endorsement of Joe Lieberman is that boy wonder editor Peter Beinart is taking pretty much sole credit for it.

Lieberman's politics - moderate on social and economic issues, hawkish on national security - are perfectly in alignment with those of Martin Peretz, the magazine's principal owner and editor-in-chief.

Yet Peretz's name didn't even come up last night when Beinart appeared on CNN's Paula Zahn Now to discuss the endorsement.

BEINART: It was a vigorous internal debate within the magazine. In fact, in this issue of the magazine we're publishing, four dissents in favor of other candidates. At the end of the day, as the editor in consultation, I made this decision feeling it was our responsibility to take a side.

ZAHN: That's a nice way of saying, you're the big cheese. You ultimately sign off on the decision.

BEINART: After listening to a lot of people.

Of course, the phrase "editor in consultation" leaves a lot of room for the involvement of others, including Peretz. But clearly a judgment was made to portray this as the decision of the magazine collectively, led by Beinart. And it was easier to do that this time around, since Peretz isn't known to be personal friends with Lieberman or any of the other candidates, as he was and is with Al Gore.

The endorsement itself is freely available, so have a look. What it really comes down to is one thing: TNR supported the war in Iraq, and Lieberman is the only one of the nine Democratic presidential candidates to do the same. For instance, there is this:

Fundamentally, the Dean campaign equates Democratic support for the Iraq war with appeasement of President Bush. But the fight against Saddam Hussein falls within a hawkish liberal tradition that stretches through the Balkan wars, the Gulf war, and, indeed, the cold war itself. Lieberman is not the only candidate who stands in that tradition - Wesley Clark promoted it courageously in Kosovo, as did Richard Gephardt when he defied the polls to vote for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq. But Lieberman is its most steadfast advocate, not only in the current field but in the entire Democratic Party.

That's a fair assessment. And I'm reasonably sure that Lieberman would never have resorted to the duplicitous arguments about weapons of mass destruction that were used by the Bush White House to concoct its case for war.

But, short of the prospect of Iraqi nukes, how could Lieberman - or anyone else - have convinced the American public that waging war was the right thing to do? As horrible a dictator as Saddam Hussein was, the chaos in Iraq today shows that this war was a terrible idea. Now that we know there were no weapons, what do we tell the families of American soldiers (not to mention Iraqis) whose lives have been lost?

The editorial is accompanied by pieces from the TNR staff favoring John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean.

Nowhere in sight: Massachusetts senator John Kerry.

Ed Gillespie, lying liar. Even though Wes Boyd, head of the lefty political website, has clearly explained that he had nothing to do with the ad comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler that had been posted by a contest participant; even though the ad was removed as soon as it was brought to his attention; Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie's disingenuous rant is still up on the party's website,

Here is's statement. And here's an analysis by Timothy Karr at, complete with the requisite link to an unhinged column in the right-wing New York Post.

New in this week's Phoenix: John Kerry battles to revive his moribund presidential campaign.

And the Narco News Bulletin is back.

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