Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What Do The Kossacks Want?

The obvious answer to the question “What does Ned Lamont want?” is that he wants to replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate. And there are plenty of other people who would like to assist him.

Lamont’s most active and articulate supporters are the Kossacks; that is what they call themselves. They are readers and assiduous followers of Daily Kos, a liberal web site maintained by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. Some of the people who support Lamont’s insurgency campaign may be Republican sappers. It’s no secret that Lieberman will draw votes from Republicans in a general election. Connecticut Republicans afflicted with a bad case of moderation like Lieberman because a) he’s genuinely affable, and b) a moderate Democrat.

Lieberman probably cannot be defeated in a general election. The senator is more popular in Connecticut than Chris Dodd, whose position on the war in Iraq has not alienated the readers of Daily Kos. But anything can happen in an election. The war in Iraq may yet become an albatross for Lieberman, depending upon whether and how quickly the country reverts to its previous condition before the war. Saddam Hussain is gone, but the conditions that gave rise to him are still very much present.

In Iran, those conditions have boosted the fortunes of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is developing the country’s nuclear capability and has promised to wipe Israel off the map. Lamont is in the enviable position of being able to present his views on the war, similar to Dodd’s, by quoting solely from conservative writers. Bill Buckley has said that the efforts of the Bush administration in Iraq have failed, and Arnaud de Borchgrave, an unblinking conservative who writes for the conservative Washington Times, is convinced that blood is thinker than water. In a recent piece, de Borchgrave addresses convincingly the question why Pakistan has been unable to find Osama bin Laden. Lamont’s opposition to the war is his strong suite. He claims, however, not to be a one dimentional candidate and points to other of Lieberman’s failings.

Lieberman’s most glaring failure, according to Lamont’s speech announcing his candidacy, is the senator’s reluctance to present a Democratic face to the administration. On several points, Lieberman has not “stood up” to the president. Lamont favors more spending on social security over private savings accounts; “universal, affordable health care” over health savings accounts; more spending on public schools over vouchers; and on Iraq, he wants those who “got us into this mess” to be held accountable. If elected, Lamont has promised a direct frontal assault: “I will tell the Bush administration to put their haughty arrogance in their back pocket and deal with the rest of the world with respect. That's how America will start winning again in a post 9-11 world.” There is no telling how all this will play in Peoria; but in Connecticut, it’s red meat for hungry Kossacks.

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