August 2006 Archives

Don't kiss me, you fool!

Like most political junkies, I was drawn to the “Dump Lieberman” movement in the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary, as well as the "Chunk Cynthia" push in Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District Democratic runoff. Both Lieberman and McKinney got their comeuppance because they found themselves at their party’s extremes, albeit the opposite extremes. Suffice it to say, McKinney not only planted herself there long ago but repeatedly demonstrated her determination to stay there as well. When all the uproar about electronic voting machines and GOP support for McKinney’s opponent, Hank Johnson, dies down, the real story here is the changing voter demographic that rendered McKinney’s shoot-from-the hip, "Did I make the front page?" political style either downright obnoxious or simply irrelevant to a growing number of her upwardly mobile black constituents.
Some months ago, Lieberman had plenty of Democratic company in supporting the Iraqi War, not the least of them the party’s 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry and several aspirants to the 2008 nomination, most notably, perhaps, Hillary Clinton. Where the ultra- poll-sensitive Clinton had begun to distance herself from her earlier position, however, Lieberman had stood fast. His comeuppance virtually guarantees that Clinton and her fellow contenders will become even more selectively amnesiac about their pro-war votes and stump speeches. In fact, my guess is that the willingness of Connecticut Democrats to turn out a senator and party leader of Lieberman’s stature, purely on the basis of his stance on Iraq, suggests that the Demos will soon be gleefully denouncing the Iraq debacle as a “Republican” war. Anyone who doubts the Democrats’ capacity to turn chicken salad into another poultry by-product clearly hasn’t been paying attention the last few years, however. It was hard to miss polarizers- par -excellence Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson at Lieberman nemesis Ned Lamont’s victory gathering. Outraged liberals demanding ideological purity clearly energized MoveOn.org’s relentless assault on Lieberman, but this insistence on forcing candidates to pass the lefty litmus test can be a real turn-off both to swing voters and, ultimately, to many of the party faithful as well. Lieberman’s detractors made absolutely certain that no Democratic voter in Connecticut could possibly escape repeated replays of a grateful Republican president planting a big wet smooch on Judas,… er, Joe, his favorite Democratic Senator. Given the way this played out for Lieberman, we may safely predict that, in the future, even Republicans are likely to be exceedingly leery of any such presidential intimacies. At the very least, if they do wind up being W’s next piece of lip candy they might well want to whisper that classic warning from an old country song: “Take your tongue out of my mouth, I’m kissing you goodbye.”

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