The most entertaining political novels I’ve ever read are the Washington cycle books of Allen Drury, starting with the Pulitzer Prize winner Advise and Consent. Drury’s novels (sadly, currently out-of-print) feature outrageous yet plausible plot twists, coming from a right-of-center cold warrior’s perspective. Parties are not explicitly identified in Drury’s books, but the heroes are usually thinly disguised Scoop Jackson Democrats—good liberals who recognized the evil of the Soviet empire. That’s why Joe Lieberman reminds me of a Drury protagonist right now.
Lieberman v. Lamont is a Druryesque story if ever there was one. Lieberman, faithful running mate to the leftwing vice-president, agrees to tack left, and then standby his running mate through various court challenges to a duly certified efforts. Four years later when he runs for President himself, he is betrayed by the former-VP, who endorses an unstable extremist candidate in the primary.
Now in the eleventh hour of Lieberman’s sinking senate primary campaign, his extremist opponent Lamont is embarrassed by Jane Hamsher, a formerly close colleague, whose blog posted a photo-shopped picture of Lieberman in black face. Will Lamont’s lame defense (don’t know her, she only filmed my internet commercial, escorted me to the Colbert Report, raised money for me, whatever) erase the twelve point lead reported in a recent poll?
Actually, in a Drury novel, Lieberman would lose the primary, but go on to win the general election as an independent, which now looks like a possible outcome. In reality, I’m sure Sen. Lieberman would opt to remain in the Democrat caucus if he were to win under those circumstances. I would hope he would let his “fellow” Democrats sweat it out for a week though, as he took smiling photos ops with Pres. Bush, before announcing his decision. In a Drury novel, that would be the big cliff-hanger. Would he switch to support the administration’s policies of support for Israel and building democracy in Iraq, or would he stay a Democrat to more effectively fight extremism in his own party.
Of course, the CT senate race is a true story yet to unfold. Still, Sen. Lieberman might take some inspiration from Drury’s books. As Advise and Consent opens anti-Communist Sen. Orrin Knox is largely isolated in his own party, having lost the presidential primary to a less principled politician. When the series concludes, Knox is president.