The Meaning of Connecticut

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Upon the revelation yesterday of a large-scale bombing plot in London, coming as it did two days after Ned Lamont’s defeat of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic primary, Lieberman connected the dots from Baghdad to London:

If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, in the New York Times, August 10, 2006

It didn’t sound too different from Vice President Cheney the day before:

The thing that’s partly disturbing about [the primary] is the fact that, [from] the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Remarks, August 9, 2006

Both of which lead us to ask: what are the ramifications of the Lamont/Lieberman contest, especially in light of London’s news? Was Lamont’s victory an isolated blog success or the tip of a very real iceberg? And if it is a movement, what might that movement look like, and who would lead it?

That’s just the first circle, and we’d like to expand the conversation from there.

For example: Some people in the Kerry camp still point to Bin Laden’s video note that arrived on the weekend before the 2004 election as that campaign’s death blow. Assuming we buy that line, how much longer does an attack (or a foiled plot, or an Al Qaeda missive) help the GOP? Can we imagine a time when it would actually hurt the party’s message? Is the answer to these questions a matter of how long the war on terror stretches into the future? With 60% of Americans against the war in Iraq, is the war on terror — this set of wars — unchanged from the mentality of March, 2003? And now that you can’t put toothpaste in your carry-on, is that disapproval bound to fall?

Put simply: Lieberman’s argument — and Cheney’s buttressing — was rejected by Democratic primary voters in Connecticut. Come Monday — come November, come 2008 — will it win the day in the country as a whole?

Hendrik Hertzberg

Political essayist, The New Yorker

John Nichols

Blogger, The Online Beat

Washington correspondent, The Nation

Associate editor, The Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Co-author, It’s the Media, Stupid

Matt Stoller

Political activist

Blogger, MyDD

Mary Katharine Ham

Managing editor, blogger, and columnist,

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