Thursday, January 14, 2010

Money And The Democrats

A move is underway to re-invent Ned Lamont, who ran in a primary against war-mongering Sen. Joe Lieberman and won, losing to Lieberman in the general election.
Lamont presently is exploring a run for governor, so the campaign issues may be different. But the candidate is the same; different play, same actor.

It may be incautious so quickly to dismiss Lamont’s now discarded anti-war effort as irrelevant. Since Connecticut’s governor is in charge of the National Guard, the war issue is bound to come up in debate. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a former marine running for the U.S. Senate, declared recently on Face the State that he supports President Barack Obama’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan. In addition to Afghanistan, Obama also has opened hostilities against Somalia and its pirates, the northern portion of Pakistan and possibly Yemen.

Democrats continue to make a distinction between ex-President George Bush’s “war of choice” in Iraq and Obama’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan. It is supposed that Democrats supporting the war of necessity in Afghanistan are not likely to face the same critical scrutiny as other members of the U.S. Congress who supported the war of choice in Iraq.

But this will depend on who’s doing the scrutinizing. There is plenty of opposition on the left to Obama’s war of necessity and his coincident mini-wars. Those who found it easy to say of Bush that he should not have allowed the country to get bogged down in a Vietnam-like quagmire in Iraq, outgoing U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd once among their numbers, may find it awkward to give Obama a pass. Afghanistan is more tribal than Iraq; its terrain is more forbidding, and its government is even more corrupt, for now, than the U.S. Congress. Also, it does not bode well that Afghanistan has been known throughout history as “the graveyard of empires.” Obama’s difficulties in this regard will also be – to a lesser extent, to be sure – troubling for Lamont, as well as other Democrats running for national office.

For Lamont, ruffling the feathers of the anti-war contingent that supported him in a primary against Lieberman may be less an issue than money. Lamont, a redundantly rich Greenwich millionaire, has not yet taken the pledge to abide by the spirit of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws; and it looks like fortune this time may smile on those who have fortunes. Money may decide many important elections in the state. Lamont and Republican gubernatorial aspirant Tom Foley, and senatorial contenders Linda McMahon and Peter Schiff are all candidates of means. Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, declared unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court, now are in judicial and legislative limbo.

It seems certain that moneyed candidates -- and others who find it inconvenient to abide by the spirit, if not the unconstitutional letter, of Connecticut’s public financing laws -- will search out other unsavory campaign financing sources. Most are waving a vigorous farewell to campaign finance reform. Although not a millionaire, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, running this year for the attorney general position to be vacated by Blumenthal, feels no compunction in putting a “for sale” sign over her campaign. It should be noted in passing that Bysiewicz has grievously disappointed Colin McEnroe, a progressive Hartford Courant columnist and radio talk show host on Connecticut Public Broadcasting. McEnroe interrogated Bysiewicz at some length on a recent show but neglected to confront her on the question of the campaign finance reform laws she supported so ardently but quickly and cavalierly abandoned when it suited her purpose to do so.

The owner of the large shoes she hopes to fill, Blumenthal, has not sworn off accepting campaign contributions from various deep pocket sources with whom he may have done political business in the past, though he seems to be suffering from the delusion that the business community would be loathed to contribute to his campaign.

In modern politics, things don’t happen this way: First the moneybags try to buy your heart; and if you beat them off with a stick, satisfied with your ear, they ply you with money anyway. Rude manners have not in the past reduced contributions from suicide prone, sadomasochistic businessmen, an unshakable truth that can be confirmed by examining the contribution records of scores of time servers in the U.S. Senate who are big government activists like Blumenthal.
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