The new Demo­crat Party and the prob­lem for Amer­ica M

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - JACK KELLY

y dish of crow went

down eas­ier af­ter I read

the hi­lar­i­ous edi­to­rial

in the New York Times on Aug. 9 cel­e­brat­ing zil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Ned La­mont’s vic­tory over Sen. Joe Lieber­man in Con­necti­cut’s Demo­cratic pri­mary. (I’d pre­dicted a Lieber­man win in a July 16 col­umn.)

“The re­bel­lion against Sen. Lieber­man was ac­tu­ally an up­ris­ing by that rare phe­nom­e­non, irate moder­ates,” the Times de­clared.

Flank­ing Mr. La­mont when he gave his vic­tory speech were those fa­mous moder­ates, Jesse Jack­son and Al Sharp­ton. Just the faces, I’m sure, Democrats in swing dis­tricts want rep­re­sent­ing their party in the fall.

TheWeb log­ger the An­choress was pulling for Mr. Lieber­man, but said his nar­row loss (Mr. La­mont won with less than 52 per­cent of the vote) “is not a bad thing, re­ally. The far left is go­ing to be em­bold­ened, be­side it­self and in­suf­fer­able [. . .] They’ll over­play their per­ceived hands like mad.”

Right on cue, film­maker Michael Moore is­sued this threat to those Democrats who con­tinue to sup­port the war that 29 Democrats in the Se­nate and 81 Democrats in the House voted to au­tho­rize:

“Let the re­sound­ing de­feat of Sen. Joe Lieber­man send a cold shiver down the spine of ev­ery Demo­crat who sup­ported the in­va­sion of Iraq, and who con­tin­ues to sup­port, in any way, this sense­less, im­moral, un­winnable war,” the porcine Robe­spierre said in an e-mail. “We will ac­tively work to de­feat each and ev­ery one of you who does not sup­port an im­me­di­ate end to this war.”

The Web log­ger Markos Moulit­sas Zu­niga (Daily Kos) de­manded that Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Harry Reid strip Mr. Lieber­man of all his com­mit­tee as­sign­ments.

Purges for de­vi­at­ing from the party line are the mark of Stal­in­ist par­ties, not Amer­i­can ones. This is the third time the hard left has tried to cap­ture the Demo­cratic party. (Henry Wal­lace failed in 1948; Ge­orge McGovern suc­ceeded, briefly, in 1972).

The ag­ing left­ists who re­mem­ber, fondly, the 1960s and 1970s as a time when they brought down two pres­i­dents and lost Amer­ica a war think they have the wind at their backs. But it is one thing to win, nar­rowly, a Demo­cratic pri­mary in deep blue Con­necti­cut, an­other to win a gen­eral elec­tion. Most an­a­lysts think Mr. Lieber­man, run­ning as an in­de­pen­dent, will pre­vail in Novem­ber.

Be­cause Mr. McGovern was trounced so badly in 1972, the hard left’s reign in the Demo­cratic party then was short lived. It could be more durable now.

Even if Mr. La­mont loses in Novem­ber, his pri­mary vic­tory will cast a long shadow over the Democrats’ pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing process. The “nu­t­roots” gang have yet to demon­strate they can win a gen­eral elec­tion. But they have shown they can win a Demo­cratic pri­mary. You can bet that likely Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial con­tenders have taken no­tice.

And it’s by no means cer­tain Mr. La­mont will lose in Novem­ber. Many Democrats who sup­ported Mr. Lieber­man will think of him as “Sore Loser­man” for not abid­ing by the pri­mary’s ver­dict.

So the only clear win­ners at this writ­ing are three em­bat­tled Repub­li­can House mem­bers in Con­necti­cut, who will ben­e­fit from em­brac­ing Mr. Lieber­man in what is, in ef­fect, a race be­tween two Democrats. (The Repub­li­can can­di­date is a ci­pher.)

Democrats think 2006 will be a reprise of 1974, when Democrats routed Water­gate-bat­tered Repub­li­cans. Repub­li­cans hope it will be a reprise of 1972, when pop­u­lar re­vul­sion at “cut and run” Democrats gave Richard Nixon the largest pop­u­lar vote ma­jor­ity in his­tory. We shall see.

Much is at stake. New York Daily News colum­nist Michael Good­win said that if the “re­sults are a win­dow on the party’s tilt, then a huge slice of the Demo­cratic party is will­ing to sit out the war to pro­tect Amer­ica.”

The one thing that ag­gra­vated Mr. La­mont’s sup­port­ers as much asMr. Lieber­man’s sup­port for the war in Iraq is his cor­dial re­la­tion­ship with Pres­i­dent Bush. Mr. Lieber­man dis­agrees with the pres­i­dent on vir­tu­ally ev­ery is­sue ex­cept the­war (and has been crit­i­cal of how he has con­ducted it), but does not re­gard Mr. Bush as an en­emy. But many La­mont sup­port­ers think Democrats should be wag­ing guer­rilla war against his ad­min­is­tra­tion, op­pos­ing what­ever Mr. Bush is for, sim­ply be­cause he is for it.

I don’t think it’s pos­si­ble for me to think less of Sen. John Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, than I al­ready do. But I would never com­pare him to mon­strously evil peo­ple such as Osama bin Laden. Yet the “nu­t­roots” gang rou­tinely com­pare Pres­i­dent Bush to Adolf Hitler.

When the Loyal Op­po­si­tion be­comes, sim­ply, the op­po­si­tion, that’s a prob­lem for that party. But it’s a prob­lem for the coun­try, too.

Jack Kelly, a syn­di­cated colum­nist, is a for­mer Marine and Green Beret and a for­mer deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of the Air Force in the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion. He is na­tional se­cu­rity writer for the Pitts­burgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette.

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