Fantasyland in Connecticut

Posted: Aug 14, 2006 1:01 AM

The executive director of MoveOn Political Action Committee did a victory dance on the opinion page of The Washington Post. He called Ned Lamont's defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary a "watershed moment" and Lamont's "principled progressivism" the "bold" new direction for the country.

But as is clear today, in the wake of the massive terrorist plot uncovered in London, had the primary been held a week later, Lamont would be history. Even detached Connecticut Democrats would have remembered that it was the terrorists of 9/11 that defined our "watershed moment," not a rich Northeastern dilettante.

Consider Lamont's victory speech, him standing up there flanked by the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. That visual alone was sufficient to tell us that what had occurred in Connecticut was a quirky flight from reality and not a defining moment in U.S. history.

The big theme of the contest was Iraq _ foreign policy.

Exactly one year ago, last August, as Hurricane Katrina was thundering toward New Orleans, Jesse Jackson was in Venezuela embracing and singing the praises of President Hugo Chavez, whom even rock star Bono called a "power hungry tyrant."

The following month, Jackson appeared along with Chavez in New York City, holding him and his country up as an example that the United States should follow.

"(The Venezuelan) government's priorities are to invest in its people. They subsidize oil, gas, health care and education and that's civil. We cannot subsidize our oil and education because we are investing in tax cuts for the wealthy and a war that does not make sense in Iraq. We need new values; we need to go another way."

Freedom House, a highly respected, non-partisan organization which promotes democracy and freedom around the world, ranks countries on a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being most free. The United States ranks 1. Venezuela ranks 4.

Freedom House also ranks countries by press freedom. Out of 194 countries ranked (No. 1 being most free), the United States is 17, Venezuela 158.

Chavez recently visited Iran, embraced their maniac president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and equated Israelis to Nazis.

This gives us some idea of Jesse Jackson's global vision, which, given his prominence on the stage with Lamont, gives us some sense of where Lamont is coming from.

This defines where Americans want to go? You've got to be kidding.

The Jackson-Sharpton team-up also tells us something. There never has been much love lost between the two. Jackson, you might recall, refused to endorse Sharpton's presidential bid in 2004.

However, the two leaders pair up now because the far left, where they sow their oats, and where, of course, Ned Lamont and think this country wants to go, is losing, not gaining, ground.

For increasing numbers of blacks, the Lamont-MoveOn-Jackson-Sharpton far left message is all "been there, done that." Black America is moving away from, not toward, this.

When Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988, he made inroads. In 1984 he won five primaries, in 1988 he won 11. By contrast, Sharpton, in his pathetic campaign in 2004, garnered a grand total of 26 delegates, 1 percent of what's needed for nomination. He couldn't even get 10 percent of the vote in South Carolina, where Jackson was victorious, with its heavy concentration of black voters.

The title of a new book by National Public Radio journalist Juan Williams, not exactly one of the names that gets dropped when folks talk about black conservatives, sums up the state of affairs: "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America _ And What We Can Do About It."

Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report points out that Lieberman captured the vote in cities across Connecticut, such as Stamford, where "there are still sizeable blue-collar and black communities." These are what Barone calls the "lunch bucket working class," who can't afford to lose touch with reality.

I've been writing for years about the need for a viable Democratic Party. The success and future of this country depends on solid debate and exchange of real ideas.

This is exactly what we are not getting and what is driving much of the voter dissatisfaction that we're seeing in the polls. There is just so long we can go on with only one party generating ideas and the other saying "No."

The Connecticut primary amounted to a dangerous retreat into fantasyland, not a steppingstone for the future. It's in the interest of the nation and of the Republican Party that an empty, bankrupt Democratic Party get its act together.