Monday, December 14, 2009


Jonathan Chait, writing for The New Republic:

... I ... think liberals, myself included, might be driving ourselves a little nuts trying to divine Lieberman's motives. He keeps flip-flopping and explaining his shifts by making demonstrably false claims. What's his game? Why does he keep saying these wrong, uninformed things?

I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn't actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there's little evidence that he's a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform....

No, Lieberman doesn't have any particular sense of what the Medicare buy-in option would do to the national debt. If the liberals like it, then he figures it's big government and he should oppose it. I think it's basically that simple.

I think Chait's basically right about how much detail Lieberman grasps -- but that doesn't mean he's stupid. He's smart enough (or, to put it another way, he has sufficient low cunning) to understand that there's no point in understanding the details -- he recognizes that if you're hell-bent on screwing Democrats and liberals, you can say anything you want, because the right-wing media will back you to the hilt, while the non-right-wing media will merely balance what you say with the words of someone on the other side who speaks factually, with the two statements creating what's said to be a "balanced" story. So Joe can just make stuff up and there are no negative consequences.

If there's no upside to getting your facts straight and not having your facts straight allows you to say any undermining thing you want and get away with it, then it's smart not to be smart. And that's the kind of smart Lieberman is.

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