On the other hand, I'm sure that the centrist DLC is privately desolated by last night's primary. Why? Because they think that the only way to win back Congress and, more importantly, the Presidency, is to appeal to the moderate middle of the electorate. They fear that the Cindy Sheehans and Marcos Moulistases will drag their party leftwards over a cliff.
Which view is correct? Here's an interesting take from an unexpected source, Joe Scarborough, conservative TV pundit, and former Gingrich acolyte, who ran for and won a seat in Congress in 1994. Key excerpt:
George Bush's loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 had put Republican operatives
and strategists in a panic. They feared that Bush had been beaten like a drum
because radical conservatives like Pat Buchanan, Phyllis Shaffley and Pat
Robertson had hijacked the GOP Convention. So while Bill Clinton spent the next
two years moving left, the Republican National Committee desperately sought
moderate candidates that would talk, walk and vote like, say, Joe Lieberman. The
goal was to blur all differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Because of that logic, I spent most of 1994 fighting Republican
bureaucrats on the local, state and federal level who did everything in their
power to elect my very moderate opponent in the GOP primary. A week before the
primary, the Republican Congressional Committee campaign director let me know
that I might as well give up. 1994 would be the year of the Moderate.
Within a few months of that conversation, scores of right-wing,
knuckle-dragging, spear-carrying conservative barbarians like myself ran through
our moderate Democratic opponents like Barry Bonds through a bottle of roids. It
was ugly. Darting to the base was the ticket to victory for the Party of Reagan.
Fast forward twelve years and now we find many making the same
misguided arguments, except this time they are giving their stupid advice to
Democrats generally and Connecticut voters specifically.
Ned Lamont may be a pencil-necked geek, as Imus claims, but he is the
type of candidate that will bring out the Democratic base in an off-year
election. That is especially true this year because George W. Bush is even more
unpopular than Clinton was when the GOP swept into power.
My advice to Democratic voters this year is "Go left, young man!"
There's much in this. But it fails to address the million dollar question: is the liberal base really as big as the (in retrospect) conservative base? I don't think it is. So certainly the Democrats should turn baseward, but judiciously, in baby steps. If that sounds difficult, it is.