Ned Lamont is a Hero

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Taylor Marsh Political writer and cultural voyeur, author and speaker.

That's where this began. Joe "stay the course" Lieberman just had to go.

It started out as a real long shot. Then Ned Lamont's campaign caught fire and the rest is history. Beating Joe Lieberman in a primary battle was the hope, but to make it manifest took a whole lot of work, sweat and a fair amount of faith. That's why, regardless of what happens today, Ned Lamont is a hero and by extension, so are the people of Connecticut who made his race possible, kept it alive and made sure it caught fire.

What Lamont did was nothing short of amazing. He completely changed the debate in Connecticut, beat a Democratic incumbent who once ran on the national ticket as vice president, but long ago lost his Democratic way. Lamont's candidacy became such a threat to that man that he had to buck the voters of Connecticut and run his own way, for his own good, servicing his own political ego in order to beat him. But Ned Lamont did more than that.

Ned Lamont made Joe Lieberman talk about the Iraq war. He made Joe play on his turf. Lamont made Lieberman not only explain his "stay the course" talk on the Iraq war, but actually move his rhetoric, his image and even his stance, if only in talking points, towards the majority position in the Democratic Party and in America. Lamont made Joe openly admit that it was long past time to change the course.

Now everyone was talking about the war. The referendum on Bush and the rubber stamp Republicans' stay the course Congress was real now. Lamont and the primary voters of Connecticut made that happen.

Before Ned Lamont came along, Joe Lieberman was just another Bush parroting Congressional rubber stamper. He had breakfast with Donald Rumsfeld. He was touted as being the next secretary of defense, which could still happen if Rumsfeld is forced to resign after the midterms. Joe chanted "stay the course" right along with all the other Republicans.

Then Ned Lamont came along and blew Joe Lieberman's comfortable, anti-opposition stance, stay the course incumbency out of the water and his political resume for a loop. Now Joe Lieberman's bio will always read that a revolutionary candidate named Ned Lamont beat Joe in a primary fight and Joe had to buck the voters of his own state in order to keep his political life alive, while remaking his talking points to match his challenger on a war that he'd supported from the start.

Ned Lamont set Connecticut politics on its head and sent a warning to every other incumbent in the Democratic Party. The people are watching. We are your boss. Rubber stamping will not be tolerated in the Democratic Party, especially when the opposition is in power!

We don't know what will happen today, but it is looking like Lieberman changed his talking points on Iraq to match Lamont's so that he'll pass the smell test with the voters. His campaign tactics didn't hurt either. But seriously, if Lieberman wins it illustrates that he was able to adapt, change his position and remake himself to match what Ned Lamont was offering on Iraq, because Ned Lamont's candidacy demanded Joe Lieberman stand up and actually portray himself as a Democrat.

Oddly enough, some of the people who claim to be the most astute were fooled or rather, they were seduced by the ever dangling carrot of access to power, regardless of the facts. The very thing that has made the Democratic Party less than what we could be.

So no matter what happens today, Ned Lamont needs to know that he is a hero. He stood up, beat Joe's "stay the course" complacency into submission and rocked the Iraq war debate. If Lamont doesn't make it over this finish line simply because the loser had to change the rules of the game in order to win, he must know he made a huge difference in the election year debate.

Because if there is one thing voters across this country know, regardless of their political stripe, is that there is really one issue above all others that matters in this election. It's about Iraq-Iraq-Iraq.

Democrats who win, and some Republicans, will only do so because they chose to push back on Mr. Bush and his failed, wholly incompetent and dangerous foreign policy escapade in Iraq, which will go down in the books as the worst foreign policy blunder in American history. We'll be cleaning up Bush's "stay the course" mess, which Joe Lieberman parroted until Lamont made him change it or lose, for decades to come.

Joe Lieberman got the message because Ned Lamont forced him to talk about the Iraq war. Ned Lamont is a hero, no matter what happens at the polls today.

UPDATE: Karma is a bitch and she's vindictive. Get a load of Lieberman's place on the ballot. He's earned it. It's not over until the last vote is counted.