Howard Dean’s collapse in the December of 2003 and January 2004 is obscured by the sound of his famous scream. The scream disguised the real result of Iowa, which was a resounding rejection of the orange-capped Deanics, the Al Gore endorsement and the Rob Reiner election day campaigning. Dean’s oratorical excess on the night of his loss was so memorable that the rejection of the left by Iowa Democrats was quickly forgotten.
The unlearned lesson of Iowa is that the left is deeply distrusted by the center, much more so than the right. This is the story that is unfolding, again, in Connecticut.
On the night of Ned Lamont’s narrow primary win in Connecticut, Michael Moore issued a cyber-equivalent of the Dean Scream. It began:
Let the resounding defeat of Senator 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. Make no mistake about it: We, the majority of Americans, want this war ended — and we will actively work to defeat each and every one of you who does not support an immediate end to this war.
Nearly every Democrat set to run for president in 2008 is responsible for this war. They voted for it or they supported it. That single, stupid decision has cost us 2,592 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. Lieberman and Company made a colossal mistake — and we are going to make sure they pay for that mistake. Payback time started last night.
The “resounding defeat” was a four point win, 52% to 48%, and “payback” has run into the problem of a double digit Lieberman lead in polls of all Connecticut voters. The Lord of the Flies dance that broke out among the followers of Kosputin hasn’t slowed, though, and if anything, their anger against Lieberman and the mainstream of Connecticut voters is mounting. The force of their fury will not help Lamont, of course, but will further disfigure his message and repulse the mainstream. Had the campaign run another week, the effects of the Great Snarl that is the hard left would have given Lieberman a majority. There is little evidence that voters in the general election will rally to the Lamont banner and join in the purge. Like Dean in Iowa, the fury of the left in Connecticut is its own worst enemy.
A Lamont defeat will have far ranging effects on the Democratic left, though they may not recognize the nature of the loss for some time. Lamont’s primary win may be their Pickett’s Charge, a high water mark which will remain their greatest day. The anger and hate which drives much of their movement is simply incapable of assembling majorities in general elections, and Connecticut may be the school in which that lesson is impressed upon the center of the Democratic Party, a necessary education if the party of FDR, Truman and JFK is to recover its balance on issues of national security.
I think Kosputin and the gang understand the stakes and thus will have to throw everything into the Lamont campaign. If their standard bearer in a deep blue state cannot get over the finish line, their wild claims –see above– begin to sound like, well, a Jon Lovitz routine. Jon Lovitz is a funny guy, but he’s a comedian, not a political activist. The left will become the Jon Lovitz Left if Ned Lamont loses, and there has to be a huge portion of the Democratic Party elite who are hoping for just that result –specifically those who hope to ever again win a presidential election.