Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Lieberman's been drummed out of the Democratic Party, the party he refused to abandon on his own.

I wrote here about how difficult it is ordinarily to change party affiliation, quoting Zell Miller's remark that it's almost like trying to remove a birthmark. Lieberman seems to have undergone a sort of radical surgery to remove that birthmark against his will.

Today, people such as Lieberman--Democrats who are foreign policy hawks-- must align themselves more closely to Republicans than Democrats on those issues, leaving them open to charges of party disloyalty. But 'twas not ever thus. One only has to think of such Democratic luminaries as FDR, Harry Truman, and JFK to realize how different mainstream Democratic thought on these issues used to be.

But that was before the watershed experience of Vietnam, which changed the Democratic Party. Following that era there originated the term "Scoop Jackson Democrats," after Henry M. ("Scoop") Jackson, a Democratic Senator who was hawkish in the mold of Harry Truman. He's also considered by some to be the father of neoconservatism, although he remained a Democrat his entire life.

I hereby propose a new term for Democrats who remain in the party but are hawkish on security and foreign policy matters: paleodems. It lacks the heavy baggage of "neocon," and it's more descriptive as well, because such people are not conservative in most senses of the word (nor am I, by the way). It also retains a reference to the Democratic Party, reflecting the 20th century history and tradition of that party as muscular on defense.

Of course, I may be too late, because paleodems are becoming an endangered species. If extinction occurs, the "paleo" prefix becomes even more apropos.

A historical note of interest on Scoop Jackson himself, with some resonances to today:

Coincidentally, Jackson in 1970, like Lieberman in 2006, faced a primary challenge from left-wing Democrats unhappy with his support for a controversial war; Jackson fended off Spokane lawyer Carl Maxey in a fiercely-contested primary, and went on to win the general election by a record margin.


Powered by Blogger