Saturday, December 29, 2007

The New England “Moderate” in the Progressive Mineshaft

Whenever liberals in Connecticut get in trouble – not often – they like to drape the “moderate” mantel around their shoulders and strut and preen, Chanticleer-like, before Connecticut’s largely liberal press.

Just look at me!

This cocky imposture puts me in mind of a story told by Bill Buckley, I think at a gathering at his house in Stamford.

Traveling in Ireland visiting pubs, Buckley noticed that no matter where a conversation began, it ultimately was steered in the direction of religion. Someone had mentioned a prominent local atheist, and Buckley, taken aback, remarked, “You mean to say there are atheists in Ireland!!!”

Oh yes, he was told – “But you have to understand: There are Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists.”

In Connecticut, there are liberal moderates, many of whom write for newspapers, and conservative moderates. But really – wink, wink – the whole lot is programmatically liberal.

Colin McEnroe, a talk show gabber, is instinctively liberal, as is his sometime guest on the Colin McEnroe Show, Bill Curry, a two time gubernatorial candidate on the Democrat ticket now writing for the Hartford Courant as a columnist. The slug on Curry’s columns reads: “Bill Curry, former counselor to President Clinton, was the Democratic nominee for governor twice.” Two days before Christmas Curry summoned all his karma to wish readers of his column a “merry Christmas,’ after having thrown ashes on a Mike Huckabee ad that does pretty much the same thing, even though the Supreme Court has not declared unconstitutional seasons wishes from politicians running for president.

“Nothing breeds cynicism,” Curry wrote, “like seeing religion used as a ploy. It's been that sort of year, even among Democrats. John Edwards calls Jesus "my Lord," a phrase he seldom used last time out. Hillary once sought a "politics of meaning" but now models a more conventional spirituality.

“Huckabee and Romney are in a race for sainthood. Mitt may regret running. As he gains among Iowan evangelicals, polls show him slipping with New Hampshire independents. He may gain too few evangelicals to win Iowa and lose too many independents to win New Hampshire, ending up as another satisfying example of the law of karma.”

Karma aside, one of the columns one may not expect from Curry in the New Year might justly be titled, "The Clintons And The Politics Of Meanness."

Staff reporters and commentators at the Courant are mostly liberals. Columnist Laurence Cohen, a libertarian not on the Courant staff, is the outstanding exception. Libertarians, provided they are not anarchists, are cheerfully admitted into the conservative brotherhood and sisterhood of saints. The Courant keeps Cohen on the shelf as their trophy conservative. The editorial section of the paper hues very closely to a line laid down in the sand by its longtime Editorial Page Editor John Zakarian that the paper would never consider putting a conservative lion in its editorial sheep den.

Commentators, as opposed to reporters, are supposed to look with lofty disdain at such imprisoning categories as “liberal” and “conservative,” but in the case of the Courant, as well as many other eastern seaboard news outlets, the paper’s commentators and reporters are subjectively liberal.

When a media reporter says he is objective, he does not mean that he has in his report managed to suppress his distorting liberal tendencies; he means that he is being “fair” in his report to the acknowledged conservative enemy. As a practical matter, this means that he sometimes hunts out a quote from “conservative” sources – really liberal moderates – to provide “balance” to his slanted report.

The categories are a little confusing, a confusion routinely exploited by disguised liberal behavioralists and their peppier true believing cousins, Connecticut progressives.

Liberals began to call themselves progressive around the time the national conservative press poisoned their well. On the principle “Do unto others as you have been done by,” Conservatives in the US, somewhere around mid-century, began to develop their own media. Bill Buckley’s National Review became the point of a very long sword. Conservatives, blackballed by the mainstream media, used their considerable resources to flail relentlessly at liberals. Post modern liberals have sought to escape these whips and scorns by calling themselves progressives. A progressive is a liberal who is more Mc Carthyite -- no, not Joe, the other one, Eugene – than the pope, who is, in the secular political scheme of things, Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war hero of the Vietnam era.

Stuck in the anti-Vietnam War past, the new progressive can only see the future by squinting at the past, a gesture that reshapes their world. These folk now have opened business under their own shingle. In Connecticut, they gather under such signs as MyLeftNutmeg, CTBob, CTBlue, bloggers all, and, of course, they include support mechanics such as McEnroe, Curry and fellow traveling mainstream media reporters, commentators and information moguls, who easily pass the sniff test for liberals.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, by any objective measure, is a liberal. The senator’s ADA liberal quotient for 2006 was a respectable 75%. The average liberal quotient for Democrats in the senate for the same year was 82.7%; Republicans bottomed out at 9.4%.

Lieberman likes to call himself a Harry Truman Democrat; on the domestic progressive front, he is also a Franklin Roosevelt Democrat.

Both Roosevelt and Truman were war presidents, and Lieberman is not afraid to shake the big stick. In fact, Teddy Roosevelt, considered the father of the progressive movement, the stormer of Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill, was a impetuous war hero. Lieberman, who is ready to do battle with the war mongers who blew up the Twin Towers building in New York, is proud to place himself in their company. He now finds himself in a pinched room, a “little ease.”

The “little ease” was a contrivance fashioned by the French to sweat prisoners. Entering the “little ease,” a prisoner found himself in a cramped space in which he could neither lie down or stand up, an arrangement far more wearying than any devised at, say, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected terrorists are kept on ice in relative comfort, waiting for deliverance from the anti-Bushites in the US Congress.

It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that in all else but the prosecution of the war against jihadists, Lieberman is a liberal of the old school, which has now been dismissed and filled with a new class of Eugene McCarthyite, anti-war progressives.

To be sure, Lieberman has not had an easy go of it. A recent blog from MyLeftNutmeg is titled, “Is Joe Lieberman An Alcoholic Pedophile? But the one thing progressives in the North East cannot cite Lieberman for is a lack of courage. On his support of the Iraq war and his manful defense of Israel, the bloodied but unbowed senator has fought the good fight.

Nationally, Lieberman may be the last Scoop Jackson Democrat standing, and the assault against him was, and continues to be, brutal. That assault is driven partly by anti-war fervor, cleverly used by the new left as a catapult to toss the Liebercrats out of office.

In this endeavor, Lieberman’s cohort in the senate, Chris Dodd, has been unusually pro-active. An astute politician, Dodd has read the progressive writing on the wall: Moderate Republicrats in Connecticut – Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons – were washed overboard when the Tsunami struck. The rising tide of progressivism in Connecticut swept a sufficient number of Democrat congressmen into the legislature to assure a veto-proof majority. In the 2006 general election, the Hartford Courant, tiring of the “moderate” Republicans it had in the past so assiduously courted, and breaking its long habit of endorsing “experienced” incumbents (the good bums), threw its weight behind Democrat US House candidates Jim Murphy and Joe Courtney, respectively Johnson’s and Simmons' opponents, both of whom won. Of the two campaigns, Courtney’s was by far the milder and more gentlemanly. The Johnson Murphy bout was a blood fest on both sides.

Oddly enough, the only Republican political incumbent left standing after the 2006 general election was Chris Shays, the prototypical moderate Republican and, in concert with Lieberman, the Connecticut congressman most closely associated with a vigorous support of Bush’s war against jihadism. Association with Bush policies damaged neither Shays nor Lieberman in the deciding general election campaign.

In the preceding primary campaign, Lieberman was sliced and diced by his opponent’s henchmen. The bloggers were particularly brutal as they cheerfully supported their Great White Hope, Ned Lamont, a Greenwich millionaire of impeccable pedigree. Lamont is the grandson of Corliss Lamont, a trench fighting uber-liberal humanist.

According to Corliss Lamont’s on-line biography, Ned Lamont’s beau ideal of the scholar and gentleman “was born to Wall Street wealth, yet he championed the cause of the working class, and was derided as a ‘Socialist’ and a ‘traitor to his class’.

“Corliss Lamont's Humanist belief that earthlings have evolved without supernatural intervention and are responsible for their own survival on this planet caused traditionalists to label him a ‘godless atheist’”.

The elder Lamont clearly was a man ahead of his time. One supposes that his humanist’s religious views were more in keeping with those of Curry, McEnroe and Buddha.

Lamont’s primary campaign was other directed.

One of the directors of the Lamont campaign was Tom D’Amore, once Sen. Lowell Weicker’s major domo. When Weicker was a Republican senator, he managed to appoint D’Amore chairman of the Republican Party. It was Weicker who encouraged Lamont to run against the ex-senator’s bete noir; Lieberman had bested Weicker in a senatorial contest, after which Weicker bolted the Republican Party and ran for governor on a contrived ticket, A Connecticut Party. Weicker lost the 1988 election to Lieberman by less than 1% of the vote, partly because Republicans dissatisfied with Weicker pummeling of the Republican Party defected en mass to Lieberman.

Lamont was not nearly as venomous as his most ardent supporters. When ex-President Bill Clinton -- like Lieberman a past chairman of the moderate Democrat Leadership Council -- came to Connecticut to support Lieberman in the primary, Blogger Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake ran on her blog a doctored picture of Clinton in Blue’s Brother’s sunglasses and Lieberman in blackface. The picture has since been removed. Comments on her blog and others concerning Lieberman’s religion bordered on anti-Semitism. Lieberman is not an Atheistic Humanist, and his support for Israel against jihadists whose most ardent wish is to drive Jews into the sea was at the time well established and predictable. There were no strenuous objections raised to any of these out-of-bounds remarks from McEnroe, Curry, Weicker or other Lamont henchmen. The idea was to give the dogs at FireDogLake, DailyKos, The Huffington Post and other progressive blog sites a long leash.

At this remove, no one is able to tell which of the two, Lieberman or Dodd, are Cain or Able. There is no question that they are opposite numbers. The fate of Iraq, Iran, Israel and the whole Middle East may decide the issue. That fate is very much up in the air and will itself be decided by either democratic countries or radical jihadists.


steadyjohn said...

Pheeew Don! Lots of food for thought here. Your mention of moderates here reminds me of the call on CT Local Politics for two new front pagers: a "liberal" and a "moderate".

Don Pesci said...


Right. Just what we need, more "moderates." I kind of like Ghengis though; he's too well read to fall into the usual progressive stew, though his prejudices pull him in that direction. Too bad someone couldn't come along and re-wire his hardware.

The really interesting thing about the jihadists -- potential makers and breakers of US congresspersons and presidential wannabes -- is that they fail most spectacularly when they succeed. That is what happened in Anbar province. They took it over, banned smoking, imposed hated Sharia law and forced popular sheiks to give up their daughters in marriage to the jihadists. Almost immediately, the locals began to turn then in to American soldiers. The assassination of Bhutto may, in the long run, prove to be one of these spectacular failures. Americans, though, have neither the patience nor the fortitude to run the race through; and Europe, always short of breath, is traitorous in this regard.

JSM in 08 said...

As always, much to ponder. One thought I would add is how the Lamont forces, and their allies, (like the folks in Brattleboro VT who have issued arrest warrents for Bush and Cheney), are so obsessed with hating Bush. If they put as much energy into proposing new ideas and solutions as they do into hating Bush the "left" wing nuts would; have the majority from Selectman to President; win the war against terror; and cure cancer all before lunch.

But they will still choose to, just hate Bush.

Don Pesci said...


Right. I'm sure there is a Christian, Hebraic, Islamic, secular, atheistic warning somewhere about the toxicity of hatred and how it befuddles the brain. It’s not necessary to worry overmuch about these people. It looks like Gen. Petraeus' success in Iraq already has diminished The DailyKos' importance. My aim is to record the impression they make on impressionable politicians and move on. The push and pull of events will decide the issue in the Middle East, though any effective decision may be sometime in coming. In the meantime, let's all try to keep our rational faculties and out senses of humor -- especially the last -- in functioning order.

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