In the Democratic primary of 2006, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman lost to the more liberal Ned Lamont.
Lieberman: "I'm a loyal Democrat, but I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party, and that's my loyalty to my state and my country."
That fall, he ran as an Independent and won with 50 percent of the vote. Lamont captured 40 percent. Lieberman said later, "I feel the Democratic Party left me."
Being a West Virginia Democrat can't be easy these days, and Sen. Joe Manchin must know that better than most.
On the one hand, there's loyalty to party leadership. And on the other hand, there's loyalty to the people of West Virginia. What to do?
The dilemma is the work of President Barack Obama and other party leaders who hold the reins in Washington. They've turned their backs on Democrats such as Manchin, reached out to their friends on the far left and started a war on coal and coal-producing states.
The collateral damage will be huge. The economies of coal states will be crippled, and electric rates will soar while power generation drops nationwide. Every sector of the American economy is going to feel the pain.
Obama started the war (he calls it a "national climate action plan") in June when he ordered his Environmental Protection Agency to draft new regulations on carbon emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants.
The president, who has an annoying habit of ignoring facts, asserted, "The planet is warming. Human activity is contributing to it." He added, "I'm here to say we need to act."
(The reality, of course, is that man-made global warming is man-made fiction. And because there's no actual warming, the radical left has come up with a new phrase, "climate change," to justify their gutting of the American economy.)
Obama's "climate" plan was fleshed out by one of his climate advisers. "The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed."
That got everybody's attention. Manchin raised objections, and early last month, he and other Democrat big-wigs (among them Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, State Party Chairman Larry Puccio and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant), plus coal industry people, presented their case to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
She heard them out and responded last week. It was not what Manchin & Co. wanted to hear.
She announced a new and unattainable EPA standard for new coal-fired power plants, meaning that if the standard survives court challenges, there won't be any new plants. ("If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them." Candidate Obama, Nov. 2, 2008.)
The EPA also announced that it will issue new carbon emission standards for existing plants next April. The coal and power industries expect the worst.
Manchin, in criticizing the mischief, has avoided direct criticism of the mischief-maker himself (Obama).
The senator says the standard "is direct evidence that this Administration is trying to hold the coal industry to impossible standards. Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible." The standard "will have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy."
He added, "I will continue to fight EPA overreach."
Here's the deal, then: The nation's leaders (Democrats) are throwing coal-related industries and states like West Virginia under the bus as a sop to radical environmentalists, and in the process, they're angering and embarrassing state Democrats who object.
So what do you think? Is it time for West Virginia Democrats to walk away from the party that's trying to kill us?
Joe Lieberman would probably say "yes." And he'd probably be right.