Wednesday, August 09, 2006

So what does Leiberman's loss mean?

The netroots crowd - daily kos and co., without whom Lamont's victory would have been impossible - are over the moon. On their view, Leiberman's loss shows that people-power has returned to American politics, and a man who exemplified cross-party cheerleading for a war that most Americans no longer support (most especially not in Connecticut) has received his just desserts - a generous helping of humble pie.

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.

Yeah, right.

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.


shadhu said...

welcome to the fray, Kitab! My two cents: the vote was tighter than I had expected 52-48. This makes Lieberman's desire to run as a candidate credible, and would likely hurt the Democratic cause in the election...

kitab said...

Indeed, the election will now be very interesting (Leiberman's already announced his independant candidacy). But although the current numbers are stacked in Leiberman's favour, I think voter perceptions will change rapidly after last night. All the Democratic bigwigs will come out in support of Lamont - a process that's already beginning - and given the national interest in the race, there'll be a major push to get Lamont elected.

Morning's Minion said...

This is not a right-left issue. Lieberman lost not because of his support for the Iraq war. He lost because of his disgusting toadying to the Busgh administration, the nadir of which was his no-infamous NYT op-ed castigating his fellow Democrats for opposing Bush in war time. What riles up the base, adn gets out the vote, are candidates to stand up to Bush. This was Kerry's big mistake. Again, it's not left-right: one thing the Democracts should be hammering Bush on is the fact that he let Bin Laden escape, and made the world a more dangerous place.

shadhu said...

Let's focus on the real underlying reason behind Lieberman's pandering to the Bushies. Clearly it is coming from his desire to come across as more pro-Israeli than anyone else in the Democratic party. I bet that in his independent candidacy, he will aggressively push the Israeli agenda in the name of U.S. security. The question is if that strategy will give Connecticut voters a pause.

M.Z. Forrest said...

Not to advise dems, but two quick things:
1) The only thing this means is the Dems don't believe the Republicans have a chance to win the Senate in CT.
2) This will have no impact on candidates offered for this election. They have pretty much been decided. Dean decided to years ago to allow the state offices run the elections, and he has largely butted out.
3) Leiberman will endorse Lamont within 5 weeks.

shadhu said...

Well, Mr. Forrest, we will hold you accoutable to your predictions!

John Lowell said...

Lamont's victory is the first step out of the shadows for the Democrats. At least he brings a chance that opposition to the war will be given a main stream voice. As a Catholic I could never vote for Lamont, he's 100% wrong on life. But neither could I support Republican candidates that back the position of the Bush stem-cell compromise articulated in 2001 or Bush's war in Iraq and that's just about all of them. I'll be sitting out the congressional elections of 2006, thank you.

John Lowell

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I agree with Shadu on Lieberman being more pro-israeli than other democrats. The whole US congress is clearly pro-israeli and that is not an issue that would delineate Republicans from democrats.

Now, I have to admit I was impressed by comments by senator Chuck Hagel.