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Democrats hijacked by extremists

The narrow primary defeat of veteran senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary is more than a loss for one man. It is a loss for his party and for the country. It completes the capture of the Democratic Party by its Taliban wing.

They used to be "San Francisco Democrats," a phrase coined by Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to describe the party's 1984 convention. But they have now morphed into Taliban Democrats because they are willing to kill one of their own if he does not conform to the narrow and rigid agenda of the party's kook fringe.

Lieberman's one sin, in the eyes of the Taliban Democrats, was that he supported the effort to defeat the insurgent-terrorists in Iraq. As a Jew, Lieberman is particularly sensitive to those who have targeted the Jewish people for extinction. But even if he weren't Jewish, he would still "get it," because he understands what's at stake in the region and has correctly concluded that the consequences of American failure in Iraq would be catastrophic.

His detractors, who brought him down in the primary with a one-issue, inexperienced and unqualified candidate, Ned Lamont, hate President Bush so much that their judgment has been distorted.

Former Bill Clinton aide Lanny Davis, in a recent column for The Wall Street Journal titled "Liberal McCarthyism," printed a sample of the incendiary rhetoric directed toward Lieberman. There is thinly-veiled anti-Semitism, irrationality and personal attack.

It didn't matter that Lieberman ran as the vice presidential candidate with Al Gore in 2000, or that he has voted against most of President Bush's domestic agenda. The Taliban wing of the Democratic Party cannot countenance any heretics who do not toe their line.

Though Lieberman says he will run as an independent, the damage has been done. It will be difficult for any Democrat to seek consensus with any Republican without being targeted as an infidel worthy of electoral death.

Our already-poisoned political dialogue has not only been made more toxic, but contagious. Taliban Democrats have effectively issued a political "fatwah" that warns all Democrats not to deviate from their narrow line, or else face the end of their careers through a political jihad. Perhaps the few remaining rational Democrats should put on their burkas now and submit to the will of the party mullahs.

What is wrong with Democrats? Can't they see that when the face of their party belongs to ultra-leftists like George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, they lose? For those who still believe not only in a strong two-party system, but also in compromise and conciliation in order to promote the general welfare and seek the common good, the Lieberman defeat strikes an especially harmful blow.

At the height of social conservative power in the Republican Party, pro-choicers and pro-gay-rights officials like Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were featured speakers at GOP conventions. Republican officials described their party as a "big tent" with room for everybody.

Lieberman's loss reduces the size of the Democrats' tent to that of a pup tent. The message it sends is that only those who conform to the left-wing fundamentalist worldview will be allowed in. Is that a message Democrats want to take into future campaigns? Do they wish to pervert John F. Kennedy's vision and instead say that the United States will pay no price, bear no burden and go nowhere in the defense of liberty?

If that is the message the Taliban Democrats want to send to the nation, they have all but guaranteed a Republican presidential victory in 2008 and GOP losses, if any, might not be as bad as predicted this November. Karl Rove could not have devised a more brilliant plan. But Joe Lieberman deserves better.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist and a host on Fox News Channel. E-mail him at cal@calthomas.com. Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at letters@gwinnettdailypost.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.