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Friday, July 14, 2006

Finally, someone says what needs to be said

Listen up everyone!

This primary isn't about Dump Joe, ConnecticutBLOG, My Left Nutmeg, Connecticut Bob, Firedoglake, MyDD, Daily Kos, or any other blog that rooting for Ned Lamont to win in August. I could blog until my finger bleed and my eyes fall out and I still wouldn't reach enough people to unseat a 18 year senator.

This challenge to Lieberman is more than a bunch of bloggers who don't like Joe and (believe it or not) it's more the war. This election is primarily about people who are dissatisfied with a senator who has continuously undermines the Democratic Party every chance he gets.

On issue after issue, when the Republicans and conservatives need someone to bat for them against the Democrats, Joe has shown that he has no problem stepping up to the plate. Lieberman is out of touch with the people he swore to represent in Washington (can anyone remember the last time Joe was in town besides during an election).

The people of Connecticut had to deal with this for the last 6-8 years and now, with a credible candidate; the voters are ready for a change. Also, thanks to the worst campaign team since Alan Schlesinger, Lieberman's numerous embarrassing campaign blunders has only helped Lamont's name recognition.

Why am I ranting like this you ask? Well, it seems that finally, someone out there finally gets the point and his name is Mark Schmitt.

The plausibility of the Lamont campaign is attributable to two major things, none of which have anything to do with Markos Moulitsas or his loyal minions:

1. Decades of statewide progressive organizing in the state. Lamont's campaign manager is no blogger, but Tom Swan, who left his job as head of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG) to run the campaign. According to one of the Connecticut blogs I mentioned above, much of the CCAG staff has also quit or taken a leave to help Lamont. CCAG got its start before even Al Gore had heard of the Internet, in the same year that Lieberman won his first primary - 1970 - and from the same impulses that created the reformist/anti-war Caucus of Connecticut Democrats in which Lieberman was active.

[...]

2. The fact that Lieberman has run, so far, the second most embarrassingly bad campaign of the year. (The worst campaign's entire staff just quit, so there may be an opening to move up.) The fact is that there's been a lot of latent discontent with Lieberman in the state at least since his speech about Monica Lewinsky, but as recently as a few months ago, his approval rating among Democrats was solidly in the low 70's, indistinguishable from his support among Independents and Republicans. (This is an important point, by the way: A good portion of Republicans and Independents in Connecticut are more liberal than the average registered Democrat, and his support among those groups could prove just as soft as his Democratic support.) Lieberman could easily have restored his bond with Connecticut Democrats, or at least enough to be sure of winning a primary. I could have written that speech or that ad, and I would have done it, too, before he said "we criticize our commander-in-chief at our own peril." It would involve a much stronger condemnation of Bush's conduct of the war, a heartfelt acknowledgement of respect for opponents of the war and for the legitimacy of dissent, and a message that, wherever anyone stood in 2003, now we have a crisis on the ground in Iraq and have to work together - and with Republicans -- to get it right and get out. (If he couldn't in good conscience say those things, then he's got bigger problems.) The war is not the only issue driving opposition to Lieberman, of course, but it is the great question of our time and if he could defuse it somewhat as an issue, the opposition doesn't have that much to work with.

Instead, for whatever reason, he chose to act petulant about the fact that anyone would oppose him at all, which is not the right response for a democrat, much less a Democrat; produce a series of comically inept ads, and shrink himself into a sort of suburban-mensch version of Al D'Amato : "I saved 3,000 jobs at Electric Boat in Groton." "I voted for the energy bill because we got $800 million for energy conservation in Connecticut." (Large forces have been unleashed in our politics, and a national figure like Lieberman should be seen as confronting those questions, not selling out for petty earmarks.) And finally, by taking out the "insurance policy" of running under a party named after himself, he highlighted every one of his own negatives and virtually ensured his defeat in the primary, with a very good chance that the independent candidacy will fizzle as well.

So let's credit the netroots for what they do well - generate enthusiasm, force the big questions onto the agenda, generate a new definition of what it means to be a Democrat. But by themselves they can't create a viable candidacy or bring down a popular three-term incumbent. Only organizing and the incumbent's own mistakes can do that.

I think I can speak for every pro-Lamont blogger in CT when I say, thanks Mark. Hopefully, other people will get the message and stop linking Lamont's campaign to a bunch of "looney left" weirdo bloggers.

...not that there's anything wrong with being a "looney left" blogging weirdo.