- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006

A new reality

“Two events of the past week — Joe Lieberman’s defeat and a foiled terrorist plot — will alter American politics in the weeks ahead,” the Des Moines (Iowa) Register’s David Yepsen writes.

“Neither is likely to help Democrats. They could even foul what should be a good year for the party,” Mr. Yepsen said.

“The Connecticut senator narrowly lost the Democratic nomination for re-election to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. That has emboldened the party’s most left-of-center activists, who will push Democratic candidates farther to the left, especially presidential candidates as they court those voters in nomination contests.

“But if the candidates move too far to the left, they’ll alienate the centrist voters they need to win in the fall.”

Anti-war party

“That was unfortunate timing [last] week for the Lamont Democrats, declaring themselves officially the anti-war party within 24 hours of the Brits foiling an Islamic terror plot to spread thousands of U.S.-bound bodies across the North Atlantic, or perhaps across New York, Boston and Washington as the planes descended. Yes, we know; they support the war on terror, but are merely against George Bush’s war in Iraq. How does that work?” Wall Street Journal columnist DanielHenninger writes.

The week before the Lamont victory, “12 members of the congressional Democratic leadership sent President Bush a letter urging that he start a phased pullout from Iraq, euphemized as a ‘redeployment,’ starting before the end of this year. But it is becoming increasingly fantastic to argue that Iraq, with its apparently limitless supply of suicide bombers, hasn’t much to do with the terror threats manifest elsewhere,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Put it this way: From the perspective as of [Thursday] of getting on a U.S. airliner, who would you rather have in the Senate formulating policy toward this threat — Ned Lamont or Joe Lieberman?

“Well, the Democratic Party would rather have Ned Lamont. That commitment was sealed Wednesday when Mr. Lieberman’s longtime colleagues in the Senate, in one of the least edifying spectacles in recent political history, pledged their troth to the one-issue neophyte, Ned Lamont. Sens. Kennedy, Kerry, Clinton, Biden, Reid and, most embarrassing of all, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, participated in what can only be seen as a tragic Shakespearean assassination of a former colleague.

“With the knifing of Joe Lieberman, the Democrats have locked in as the anti-war party. No turning back now. You’re in or you’re out.”

Lurch leftward

“A terrorist conspiracy to blow up American airliners flying from Britain to the United States — surely the most threatening terrorist plot since 9/11 — was broken up last week. The fighting between Israel and the terrorist group Hezbollah continued to raise the possibility of a full-scale Middle East war. And in Baghdad, American and Iraqi soldiers waged a last-ditch battle to cleanse the city of insurgents and terrorists and suicide bombers,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Meanwhile, Democrats ousted their leading national security hawk, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and replaced him with a rich dilettante, Ned Lamont, who ran his campaign on the single issue of getting American troops out of Iraq,” Mr. Barnes said.

“So it comes down to this: As the world got more dangerous, the Democrats got more pacifist and more left-wing. At the least, they have become less committed (or not committed at all) to a strong national security policy and less eager to defend America’s interests around the world or to promote democracy.

“The nomination of Lamont as the Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut brought into focus what are emerging as key Democratic positions: a deep aversion to the use of force, a naive belief in diplomacy that comes close to outright appeasement, a view that President Bush’s war on terrorism is a greater threat to America than Islamic terrorism itself, and declining support for Israel.

“The Democratic Party’s lurch to the left is accompanied by a cold partisanship. Simon Rosenberg, whose New Democrat Network was once touted as a force for moderation, said ‘the meaning of Lamont’s win’ includes — indeed requires — ‘a new progressive politics of confrontation, not accommodation.’”

Lamont’s complaint

Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who toppled Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary, says he was surprised by Mr. Lieberman and Vice President Dick Cheney’s charge that his victory could embolden terrorists.

“My God, here we have a terrorist threat against hearth and home, and the very first thing that comes out of their mind is how can we turn this to partisan advantage. I find that offensive,” Mr. Lamont said in an interview yesterday with the Associated Press.

After British officials disclosed they had thwarted a terrorist airliner-bombing plot on Thursday, Mr. Lieberman warned that Mr. Lamont’s call for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be “taken as a tremendous victory” by terrorists.

Mr. Cheney suggested Wednesday that Mr. Lamont’s victory might encourage “the al Qaeda types” who want to “break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.”

Mr. Lamont said Mr. Lieberman’s swipe at his candidacy “sounded an awful lot” like Mr. Cheney.

“It surprised me,” he said. “It seemed almost orchestrated. It’s sort of demeaning to the people of Connecticut. … I thought the senator and the vice president were both wrong to use that attack [strategy] on the voters of Connecticut.”

The Lieberman camp yesterday brushed aside Mr. Lamont’s comments, the AP said.

“All Lieberman did was point out an important difference between his approach to national security and Ned Lamont’s, which is what campaigns are all about,” said Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein.

Party loyalists

“Many Democrats may hate the war in Iraq and itch to dump the president, but a new GOP survey shows that Republican base voters stand ready to jam the November polls to return their team to Congress,” Paul Bedard writes in the U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“A three-page survey memo obtained by Washington Whispers reveals that despite reports of some dissatisfaction with the economy, the war, and President Bush, 81 percent of Republican voters are ‘almost certain’ to vote and an additional 14 percent say they are ‘very likely.’ It goes without saying that they’ll vote Republican: By a margin of 84 percent to 6 percent, they will pull the GOP toggle switch in the voting booth,” Mr. Bedard said.

“And here is something you don’t hear very often: 88 percent of Republicans approve of how the prez is handling his job. What’s it all mean? Analysts say that GOP voters are ready to dig in and play defense against the charges Democrats are tossing at Republican candidates.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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