The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In case you hadn't heard...

Yes, Ned Lamont defeated Lieberman in the Connecticut primary by a narrow 52-48%. I'm guessing that, as yesterday, the story dominates the blogs. Whatever people write about in terms of the larger ramifications for November and the party in general, the question right now is Lieberman deciding to drop out or (as he says he will) run as an independent. Leading Dems have begun to make it clear that they want to see him drop out to keep the seat in their hands rather than potentially giving it to a Republican in a three-way race.

The right-wing (and lazy journalist) line on the events was already in place before the primary, casting Lamont as an extremist and by extension the whole Democratic party. This is also, sadly, the opinion of DLC types, who we can expect to be very vocal in their laments over the future of the party. Ironically, one of their major criticisms of blog support for Lamont has been that it's more important to hold the seat and your tongue over this campaign. Yet, they'll be performing the role that made so many Democrats angry at Lieberman-- going public with attacks on their own party and giving fuel to Republicans.

Although it isn't online yet, Charlie Cook's look at the race yesterday (titled The Bigger Picture) was one of the more insightful that I've read. Largely because Cook eschews the sloppy-yet-attention-grabbing pundits saying this race mirrors the end of the sixties, when angry young Democrats ticked off the nation and cost their party dearly. Cook's analogy is much more apt and less apocalyptic-- after all, we're just talking about one state contest here, which everyone seems to forget.

Anyone in Connecticut need look no further than New York state in 1980, when liberal Republican incumbent Jacob Javits was defeated in the Republican primary, and again in the general election, by conservative Alfonse D'Amato. While there are those who say that liberal efforts to purge Lieberman is a sign of ill health and a narrowing of the Democratic Party, the Javits upset in 1980 occurred in a year when Republicans picked up 12 seats and control of the U.S. Senate. They also picked up 34 House seats and it marked the beginning of a pretty successful period for the GOP.

I'd like to post the whole thing, including Cook's concerns about ideological purges in politics. But to summarize, he points out that there are other ideological primary challenges out there today, including more moderate Republicans that the party is trying to replace with right-wingers. It's just that Lieberman got all the press.

I don't expect to be writing too much more about this for the time being, since the only real news will be Lieberman's decision: run anyway or drop out. He says now that he's running, but there'll be a lot of pressure on him from party leadership to throw in the towel.

UPDATE: One of the 'ideological primaries' Cook cites was that of Michigan's John Schwarz, a rare moderate House Republican, who was defeated by a more right-wing opponent. That's been one of the more shocking aspects of all the attention paid to the Lieberman-Lamont race. The GOP is already in the hands of extremists-- and they're running the country.

UPDATE: Word is that Lieberman has officially filed the paperwork to run as an independent. National Journal reports that Beltway Republicans are encouraging people to donate to Lieberman.