Sunday, August 13, 2006

Right after the Connecticut primary I said that Lieberman was the odds-on favorite to win the general election. It made sense on paper: He'd won nearly half the Democratic primary vote, and a recent poll showed him with overwhelming support among both independents and Republicans in a three-way race.

What I wasn't counting on, though, was a shift in the way the mainstream press would talk about Lieberman and Lamont.

Sam Tanenhaus has an assessment of the Lamont campaign in the Week in Review section of today's New York Times; a similar piece by Matt Bai will appear in next week's New York Times Magazine, but is already online.

Gone, in both pieces, is the picture of Lamont supporters as angry lunatics. Tanenhaus compares the Lamont Netrooters to the Buckley/National Review crowd of the 1960s: pamphleteers-slash-activists who eventually won the day. Bai's analogy is the Laffer Curve crowd of the late Carter years, who found their figurehead in Ronald Reagan, and also, of course, won the day.

Message: Reagan was really a hell of a nice guy, and we all know Buckley is a swell fellow, so maybe these Netsrootsians aren't all that bad. And maybe they're just damn good politicos.

I guess nothing succeeds like success.

You know what's ironic about this? An article in yesterday's Times (which I also linked in my last post) suggests (admittedly unscientifically) that those who voted for Lieberman in the primary aren't abandoning him. Most of those who are interviewed, including some Democrats opposed to the war, say they're still sticking with Joe. If the general election were held tomorrow, it seems likely that he'd have a very good chance of winning.

Yet the press is starting to hint that he's yesterday's man.

What this says to me is that if Lieberman loses, he'll be beaten by exactly the sort of political-elite groupthink that kept him aloft this long. He was a hero because Lieberman-as-hero was a story the mainstream press liked. Now he may lose because Kos-as-William-F.-Buckley is now a story the mainstream press likes.

I've always thought lefty blogs should work on pushing a Democratic message, and that that was more important than an electoral strategy. But maybe winning elections is what it takes to change the way the mainstream narrative portrays the parties. (Which is a conclusion I guess a lot of you came to a long time ago.)


(Bai link via Norwegianity.)


UPDATE: A Rasmussen poll has Lieberman up by 5%. I guess we'll have to wait and see which narrative (Lamont = TATP or Lieberman = Loserman) wins.

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