"If you strike me down, I will only become stronger." Barry Casselman has some thoughts on why a Lieberman defeat in today's primary will probably be good for Lieberman's stature -- and how it will force the Democratic party to make some hard choices:
In the worst case scenario, Mr. Lieberman could lose the November election. In that case, he becomes a profile in courage - as John F. Kennedy wrote about the bravest senators in history, and a martyr to Democratic Party extremism. He would replace Arthur Vandenberg as the modern symbol of American foreign policy bipartisanship, one of the nation's greatest political traditions. He would no longer be the footnote in political history as the first Jewish nominee for vice president; he would be remembered as well for something more important, a rare figure of guts and honesty in the history of the Senate. For a man at his age, this is not a small outcome.
More likely, Mr. Lieberman will be re-elected to the Senate as an independent. Although many of his colleagues, as well as former President Clinton, support him and have campaigned for him in the primary, most have indicated they will not support him if he loses the primary. This would result in Mr. Lieberman being a genuine independent in the Senate, beholden to no party and no set of ideas but his own.
The new Senate, by all accounts, is likely to be close to a tie. As a man free to go where his conscience leads him, Mr. Lieberman would often be pivotal vote. The new Sen. Lieberman would be able to speak out as he had not before. Remember, this man ran seriously for president in 2004. He did not come close to winning, but he is not without big ideas and goals.
The newest chemistry for an independent Sen. Lieberman would be his instant leadership nationwide of the political center. He was chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, an intellectually important but politically weak centrist organization. His new role would be of another political order.
Independent and centrist parties, already just beginning to spring up here and there in the country, would have someone to rally behind and speak for them. The chemistry of the 2008 election could be profoundly altered. I suspect it would not help the Democrats.
I think Casselman's second scenario is the most likely -- that Lamont will triumph in today's primary, and that Lieberman will flatten him in the general election in November, emerging as the new standard-bearer for independent centrists.