- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

Whatever happens in the Connecticut primary today, the antiwar bloggers who take credit for making the race a national sideshow stand to lose very little. If you’re just joining in, megamillionaire Ned Lamont has managed to erase a 55-point deficit in the polls and leap ahead of three-term incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman by six points. That’s not bad for a political neophyte who has run a one-issue campaign attacking Mr. Lieberman’s pro-war views; nor, indeed, for the bloggers themselves who have made Mr. Lieberman’s defeat their chief motivation for getting up in the morning. Their role in electoral politics will undoubtedly continue to grow even if Mr. Lamont falters.

The question is how much the blogger phenomenon augurs the rise of a new Vietnam-era antiwar movement. Politicians, especially Democrats in tight races, are asking themselves that as they watch the Connecticut primary reach its end today. But it’s tricky to answer, because the antiwar movement as remembered in massive protests and campus riots has failed to materialize. Even though a majority of the public now believes the Iraq war a mistake, we have not seen a correlative expression of this frustration on the streets.

So far the success of influential bloggers like DailyKos remains mixed. Despite pushing a handful of antiwar candidates going back to Howard Dean’s failed presidential run, the bloggers have seen zero victories. But they keep coming back, in part because of the growing dominance of the Internet over more traditional forms of media. To their credit, it seems each candidate they put in their crosshairs comes that much closer to defeat.

Mr. Lieberman, who was the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate just six years ago, could very well be their first scalp. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the antiwar movement is close to reaching its Vietnam heyday. And Democrats who either think it does or wish it does have to contend with the memories of the antiwar left’s abysmal electoral record since nominating George McGovern to challenge President Nixon in 1972.

By looking at campaign finance reports, National Review’s Byron York found that Mr. Lamont has raised a little over $4 million, over half ($2.5 million) from his own personal fortune and the rest ($1.6 million) from individual donors. Looking at blogger donations, however, Mr. York found that the Lamont campaign raised just $298,000, or about 7 percent of his overall donations. Mr. York asks the pertinent question: “Is [$298,000] the sort of fundraising power that will upend Democratic Party politics?”

The antiwar blogger phenomenon remains an isolated clique that operates largely inside its own echo chamber. That’s not to say it won’t one day become the prime mover in national politics, as antiwar activism was during Vietnam. Until then, the bloggers need heads and Mr. Lieberman could very well be their first.


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