Centrist Democrats of America points to a column from Joe Klein called Three Cheers for Triangulation:
Ned Lamont’s victory over Joe Lieberman in last week’s Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut precipitated the expected torrent of rubbish from left-wing blognuts and conservative wingnuts. There was a nauseating triumphalism on both sides, the unblinking assertion that this one poorly attended summer primary provided a lesson of earth-shattering significance to the future of American politics. Maybe it did, but I hope not.
The wingnuts used Connecticut as a rationale for continuing to wave the bloody shirt of Islamist terrorism as a partisan bludgeon. Vice President Dick Cheney, the nation’s wingnut in chief, actually said Lieberman’s defeat would give aid and comfort to our terrorist “adversaries and al-Qaeda types.” On the other side, Eli Pariser, the executive director of MoveOn.org and therefore, perhaps, the nation’s blognut in chief, proposed the “death of triangulation”—that is, the end of Clintonian moderation—in a Washington Post Op-Ed piece and announced a return to … well, the party’s stupid excesses of the ’70s and ’80s.
I had pretty much ignored the Eli Pariser piece from the Washington Post. After all, MoveOn doesn’t exactly have a sterling track record when it comes to guaging the public’s political mood. As was written in RollingStone magazine, MoveOn’s values aren’t “middle-america’s” or mainstream values.
Consider this: Howard Dean finished first in the MoveOn primary. Number Two wasn’t John Kerry or John Edwards — it was Dennis Kucinich. Listing the issues that resonate most with their membership, (MoveOn)cites the environment, the Iraq War, campaign-finance reform, media reform, voting reform and corporate reform. Somewhere after freedom, opportunity and responsibility comes “the overlay of security concerns that everybody shares.” Terrorism as a specific concern is notably absent. As are jobs. As is health care. As is education.
And until the “poorly attended” summer primary where Ned Lamont barely ousted Senator Joe Lieberman, any meaningful electoral victory was lacking on MoveOn’s resume. In other words, they’ve spent millions in their seven year history and only just now have something to show for it – and even THAT isn’t set in stone yet pending the outcome of the CT general election in November. But how important is Connecticut in the grand scheme of things?
Well, you can count on Connecticut to elect Democrats. They’re going to do it almost everytime. So MoveOn wasn’t a determining factor in that respect. Now, they certainly assisted in which Democrat won the primary, but Connecticut is no electoral prize. Carrying only seven electoral votes, they lost one after 2000. If MoveOn wants to impress, let’s see them repeat this primary win in a red state where, as RollingStone wrote, “There’s a built-in tension between the views of people who are part of MoveOn and contribute to it, and the people they’re trying to reach.”
Which brings me back to the op-ed by Pariser that essentially declared Clinton-like Democatic politics dead. Its been said before. Bob Burnett proclaimed the “Clinton Ghost” purged a mere five months after Tim Kaine used the Clinton approach to win the Governorship in red state Virginia. (You can read my response to Burnett here)
Then, two months later, Markos Moulitsas of DailyKOS also ignored history by claiming Hillary Clinton was too much like Bill Clinton to ever win the presidency. A concept he was roundly thrashed for by other popular bloggers on the net, like Joe Gandelman and Taylor Marsh.
The lessons to be learned? Winning anything in a small state carries no real national significance, and certainly doesn’t point to a trend, and you can count on reactionary fringe types (on the left and the right) to throw historical and electoral reality to the wind when they believe they have a point to make.