In the wake of Tuesday’s Connecticut primary, it’s hard to say which group came across looking more desperate and out of sorts: Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s bungling campaign staff, universally derided as tone-deaf and slow-footed, or Beltway-based pundits who sounded noisy alarms about the disastrous impact a win by Ned Lamont would have. Progressives would be wise to ignore the pundits’ free advice, since it seems to have been driven less by concern about the Democratic Party’s well-being and more by personal affinity towards Lieberman, insecurity about the surging liberal bloggers, and fear that Americans might start holding somebody–anybody–responsible for Iraq.
The Lamont media flailing truly was remarkable. How else to describe longtime Lieberman pal and DC corporate lobbyist Lanny Davis, trolling online through liberal comment sections in search of random anti-Semitic slurs in order to prove thoughtful progressives opposed to Lieberman were really filled with “scary hatred.” Davis also trembled theatrically for a liberal Connecticut buddy who confided that he might not return to the state to vote on primary day “out of fear for his safety.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times‘s David Brooks lashed out at the “liberal inquisition” unfolding in Connecticut, the type of phenomenon that could be understood “only [by] experts in moral manias and mob psychology.” ABC’s Cokie Roberts sang from the choir sheet this Sunday morning, announcing a Lamont win would mean “a disaster for the Democratic Party.”
Roberts’s ABC colleague Jake Tapper labeled Lieberman’s challenge as a “a party purge of a moderate Democrat”; a cliché repeated constantly among the talking heads. Los Angeles Times columnist Jonathan Chait ridiculed grassroots Lamont activists by suggesting “their technique of victory-via-purge is on display in Connecticut.” Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, who in a recent radio interview refused to say whether he actually wanted Democrats to gain control of Congress in November, denounced the “thought-enforcers of the left” supporting Lamont, whom Peretz mocked as “Karl Rove’s dream come true.”
Earlier in the campaign, Washington Post columnist David Broder dismissed Connecticut’s progressives as “elitist insurgents.” Over at the Rothenberg Political Report, Beltway mainstay Stuart Rothenberg was in a tizzy that Lamont’s win would “only embolden the crazies in the [Democratic] party,” the “bomb-throwers.” (Like Broder, Rothenberg opted for terror terminology to describe the democratic process unfolding in Connecticut.)
The Beltway’s simplistic, yet overheated, argument went like this: By voting out a pro-war, conservative Democrat, Connecticut voters (i.e., the “elitist insurgents”) would taint the party nationally by advertising Democrats as being soft on national security. That mindset, trumpeted by Time‘s Mike Allen, among others, represents an absolute refusal by MSM to divorce themselves from the notion that Republicans own the issue of national security and that Americans only trust conservatives to deal with foreign policy. That, despite the fact that a steady stream of polls indicate a majority of Americans are fed up with Bush’s messianic worldview (a record-high 60 percent now disapprove of the war, according to CNN), and more Americans trust Democrats to do a better job protecting the peace as well as fighting the war on terror.