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Friday, June 09, 2006

Josh Marshall warming up to Lamont

When I first started reading blogs, Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo was a daily must read as I always appreciated his commentary and unique insight into politics.

Now, Marshall has been a fan of Lieberman for some time and has even offered a pretty strong defense for President Bush's favorite Democrat in the past.

Now, things seem to have changed as Josh seems to be warming up to the Lamont challenge (welcome to the club).

I encourage everyone to check out Marshall's latest post on the Lamont/Lieberman primary as it's a great read. He pretty much lays out what's wrong with Lieberman and why this primary is happening in the first place.

I think Ned just picked up another fan.

I've wanted for some time to comment on the Lamont/Lieberman race -- basically on whether I think it's a good idea, what it says about the direction of the Democratic party and so forth.

I have to confess that I find myself ambivalent. But it's an ambivalence I'm not particularly impressed with. At some basic level, I have a hard time not liking Lieberman. I have friends who either used to work for him or remain in his orbit. And that probably has some effect on me. And it's quite true that his actual voting record is far more solidly Democratic than the atmospherics surrounding him and his reputation.

But I'm not sure how much all that amounts to.

Last year, when I devoted most of this blog for several months to the Social Security story, Lieberman was one of most frustrating and inexplicable hold outs. I'm much more willing than others to let Democrats in marginal states and districts take positions suited to their constituencies rather than those embraced by Democrats nationally. To me that just makes sense on every level. The premise of my thinking on Social Security, however, was that there was just no political downside to supporting Social Security no matter how red a state you were from. Abortion rights or gay rights may stand principle against expediency or even political survival. But Social Security was just a gimme, a no-brainer.

Still, when we were going after some of these folks I could see that some of the resistance out of the Fainthearted Faction was based on ingrained habits of political survival and real disinclination to defy a Republican president who still seemed very popular and politically powerful.

But what was Lieberman's excuse?


Certainly it wasn't political, at least not in the narrow sense. Lieberman didn't have anything to worry about in Connecticut. If it was ideological, what's that about? It's a core Democratic issue. Not a shibboleth or a sacred cow. But a core reason why most Democrats are Democrats.

In the end it just seemed like a desire to be in the mix for some illusory compromise or grand bargain, an ingrained disinclination to take a stand, even in a case when it really mattered. There's some whiff of indifference to the great challenges of the age, even amidst the atmospherics of concern.

This of course doesn't even get into everything on Iraq or the pussy-footing over running the Pentagon for President Bush.

I think the most generous read on Lieberman is that he's just out of step with the parliamentary turn of recent American politics which I myself, Mark Schmitt and many others have discussed. But I think that's too generous. The whining in Washington that it's somehow an affront that Lieberman's hold on his senate is being threatened is entirely misplaced, a good example of what's wrong with DC's permanent class.

I have to confess that I haven't spent enough time yet finding out Lamont's positions on various issues; and I'll try to rectify that. And just between us, I'm happy every time I see him go higher in the polls.

UPDATE: A TPM reader breaks down "The Lamont Effect" for Josh.
Josh, I went to see Ned Lamont at a Democratic Town Committee sponsored meeting in Glastonbury, CT several weeks ago largely to answer some of the questions you have about his stands on the issues and to get a feel for the man in person. About 150 people attended, which is about 100 more than had attended a similar event for Joe Lieberman (which Joe did not attend).

For perspective, I am 59 years old and a life-long Democrat who wants someone to represent me and my views. To be frank, I have grown tired of folks who represent this race as about the unseating an establishment politician by the netroots and who wears the pants in the Democratic Party. This a real political choice for me not some inside the beltway or blog-land brouhaha.


Lamont was bright, energetic and articulate. I thought his stands on the issues were very mainstream/progressive and his reception was very enthusiastic. His central theme is the Iraq war and how it is affecting our country in so many ways at home and abroad. He avoided going for the cheap applause line on impeachment saying that given what we know now, it was not appropriate and then, chuckling, he said Cheney is a scary thought. He would vote for censure.

Beyond the specific stands on the issues, I thought he was a stand up guy. He took all the questions, some not so friendly and did not parse words or sound like a poll-driven candidate. Authentic.
That's "The Lamont Effect" plain and simple.

Go and find out when Ned will be in your area and witness "The Lamont Effect" for yourself. It's contagious