Pull up a lazy boy chair, grab some popcorn, kick back and enjoy watching the Washington Establishment positively freak out. With news that Ned Lamont is pulling ahead of D.C. cocktail-party favorite Joe Lieberman, the elitists are out in full force. First, there is Mort Kondracke - the wax-figure-looking pundit whose entire Madame-Tussaud, formaldyhyde-in-the-veins look personifies Washington's stale, out-of-touch culture. In reading his latest Roll Call diatribe spewing bile at Lamont, you can feel his hot panting breath like a man frightened for his own life. It's a hilarious Peter-Beinart-esque rant essentially demanding those courageous D.C. status quo elites purge the Democratic Party of, well, the Democratic Party. Same thing with former Christian Coalition official and GOP operative Marshall Wittman, who purports to speak for Democrats. As if he's having a bad acid trip, his latest wild-eyed screed against progressives reminds us of why someone originally invented straight jackets.
I agree with Markos in believing that Josh Marshall sums it up best:
"I think the Lieberman skeptics are really on to something when they point out that in the Kondrackes and others there is this sense that for a well-liked-in-the-beltway senior pol like Lieberman to face a primary challenge is somehow a genuine threat to the foundations of the system. You'd think he was a life peer, if not an hereditary noble, suddenly yanked out of the House of Lords and forced to run for his seat like they do in the Commons."
Josh is absolutely right - this has everything to do with Washington insiders of all sorts fearing for their own jobs, and their own relevance. Think about it. Why does Mort Kondracke need to be employed as a pundit anymore if a whole new medium exists whereby ordinary people can have a voice, and whereby ordinary people can expose his inaccuracies or his utterly vapid nature? Better yet, why is Mort Kondracke even relevant anymore if he and his pundit pals don't have a monopoly on political opinions?
Same thing for Marshall Wittman and the DLC. They used to exist as the only ideological/think-tank-ish institution to steer the Democratic Party. Now, they have been relegated to the historical scrap heap, both by the emergence of new infrastructure, and the public flaying of their operation as intellectually dishonest and a clear formula for election losses in the very "red" states they say they know how to win. Lamont's campaign shines a bright light right on that reality. Why should anyone listen to Marshall Wittman if - gasp! - ordinary citizens actually can have a say in their own political process?
That's what's really got the pundits, the political operatives and the insiders frightened: the simple fact that ordinary citizens have the nerve to challenge a Senator who purports to represent the "center" but is way, way out of touch with mainstream Ameica. Put another way, the Establishment is in a rage that voters have the gall to demand a seat at the political table. This is a political table the Establishment has gotten used to seeing as its own exclusive property, and goddammit, they are pissed that regular Americans would dare to raise their voices and say enough is enough.
Well here's a newsflash to the bitter naysayers in D.C. - this is still a democracy, whether that's good for your business, your careers and your relevance or not; whether you and your let-them-eat-cake friends like it or not. You attack "bloggers" and the "netroots" as a monolith of lunacy and anger - but take a look in the mirror and you'll get a frightening glimpse of the people who really need anger management therapy. The more you keep freaking out like lunatics over the Lamont candidacy, the more you walk into your own stereotype as totally out of touch with the ideals this country was founded on. The more you spew such acidic bile, the more you let everyone know that despite your billing as "experts" you have positively no understanding of the populist sentiment brewing all over America. In short, the more you throw your temper tantrums, the more you embarrass yourselves and provide a good comedy show for the rest of us.
David Sirota is a writer and veteran political strategist. He just completed a book for Random House's Crown Publishers entitled "Hostile Takeover." Sirota is currently the co-chairperson of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN). - a position he took after finishing a two-year stint at the Center for American Progress. Sirota is currently a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, and a regular contributor to The Nation magazine.
© 2006 Working Assets