Numerous conservative figures on cable TV news have made dire predictions for the Democratic Party if Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont defeats incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman in the August 8 Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.
In commenting on the August 8 Connecticut Democratic Senate primary between Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, various conservative cable news figures offered dire prognoses for the Democratic Party. CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck claimed that a Lamont win in the primary "could be the death of the Democratic Party," and asked: "Is the Democratic Party really becoming the party of Michael Moore?" and "You can't count on people to vote for you when you're this out of touch, can you?" Fox News host Sean Hannity claimed that a Lamont victory would show that Democrats "are totally losing their soul." Also on Fox News, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer claimed that the primary demonstrates that the "Democratic approach to our enemies in the world ... is essentially appeasement."
While Media Matters for America does not -- and cannot -- take a position on the Connecticut primary, these comments nonetheless play into some of the false storylines pervading the media coverage of the 2006 midterm elections -- including that it is a "fringe" position to believe that the United States should plan for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, even though this view is held by the majority of Americans.
Beck's comments were met with complete agreement by guest Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, who claimed that the Democratic Party is "becoming the party of a circular firing squad."
From the August 7 edition of Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News:
BECK: You and I also agree on Lieberman. Tomorrow could be the death of the Democratic Party if Lieberman loses.
BRIAN WHITMAN (Los Angeles radio host): Glenn, you are right. This is a fight for the heart and soul of my party. I'm proud to be a Democrat, and the people of Connecticut, the good Democrats in Connecticut, need to elect Joe Lieberman tomorrow. Because we've got to accommodate this man.
BECK: Give the people of Connecticut just a little taste of the excitement of Joe Lieberman.
WHITMAN: I am so very excited about this campaign.
BECK: So, go ahead, Democrats. Slap Joe Lieberman on the wrist because he supported the president. Take away his job because he truly understands what we're doing in Iraq is so much bigger than liberating one country. But when it gets right down to it, do you actually want someone representing you who's just playing party politics, someone like Michael Moore, who doesn't understand the global implications of everything that's happening today? I don't. That's why I'm hoping -- I don't think it's going to happen -- but I'm hoping that common sense prevails tomorrow, and so does Joe Lieberman, I don't care what party he's from. Bill Whalen, research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Hey, Bill.
BECK: Is the Democratic Party really becoming the party of Michael Moore?
WHALEN: I think it's becoming the party of a circular firing squad. Figure this. Joe Lieberman may very well lose in Connecticut tomorrow if the polls are correct, but let's, you know, let's be careful about the polls. You know, tracking a primary in August is like tracking a hurricane in the Atlantic in August. It can go all over the place. But Lieberman, if you run him as an independent in Connecticut in the general election, he wins. So what does that say about the wisdom of the Democratic Party? This is not a very sound strategy.
BECK: I tell you, I just think the golden watch era is over. You know, my grandparents died Democrats. Even though they didn't believe in the things that the Democrats -- you know, they died Democrats because FDR was a Democrat. That era of golden watch politics -- you know what? I vote Republican usually. I voted for Joe Lieberman in Connecticut. The day the Republicans abandon my values, which they're pretty close to doing, I drop them like a hot potato. You can't count on people to vote for you when you're this out of touch, can you?
WHALEN: No, you can't. And, you know, it makes for curious party politics. For example, Lieberman is up for vote tomorrow. You know who else is up for a vote? Cynthia McKinney down in Georgia, the outspoken congresswoman, as anti-Bush as you can get. On the night of her primary in Georgia, Cindy Sheehan was on the stage with her. Where are the Democrats coming to rally for her? They don't care about her so much as they do defeating Joe Lieberman in Connecticut because they want to get George Bush. This is personal.
BECK: Yeah. There is anger on both sides. I mean, I'm wondering how this is going to shape up. I know, as a conservative, I think the Republicans have done an abysmal job in many things. I mean, they're spending us into oblivion. I don't know where they -- I mean, what are they doing with the border? What are they doing with oil? So, I mean, I'm actually angry at the Republicans.
BECK: The Democrats are angry at the Democrats. What does the average person do?
WHALEN: The average person holds their nose and votes for one party or the other. I think 2008 is ripe for a third-party candidate, if such a person could exist, somebody who come in like Perot did in 1992 and possibly siphon away 30 percent of the vote. But I don't think that creature exists. But, you know, again for the Democrats, you know, what is -- you know, the problem coming out of the Lieberman episode, what does it say about the state of the party? You run very aggressive primaries in deep blue states, which is what Connecticut is. It ain't Bush country; it's a deep blue state. And you run against George Bush. But the fact is, if you want to win a national election, you've got to win red states, and you cannot win a red state by being anti-Bush like this.
BECK: This is really a bad mistake for the Democrats. Thank you so much, Bill. Appreciate it.
From the August 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: You know something, [Democratic strategist] Bob Beckel, by the way, don't say you like me, because that became an issue in this campaign, the fact that Lieberman and I got along. We have a great relationship, and I think he is a good man and people always say that they want civility in politics today, but then when you have it, well, he's being punished for this. I argue, Bob, that the Democratic Party, if they throw Lieberman out in this primary tomorrow, that they are totally losing their soul. He is the last J.F.K., F.D.R., Truman style Democrat and that every other Democrat gets the message. Ninety percent isn't enough, you better be 100 percent lockstep or else this can happen to you.
From the August 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
JIM ANGLE (guest anchor): Well, let's just -- let's show that. Marty Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic, wrote in The Wall Street Journal today that "[t]he left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic Party will lose the future and deservedly."
FRED BARNES (executive editor, Weekly Standard): Look, Marty is a -- he is basically a liberal Democrat, but he's a hawkish liberal Democrat, and there was a great tradition of the Democratic Party, going back to FDR, JFK, [former senator] Henry Jackson -- if Lieberman's gone, that's the end of it.
JUAN WILLIAMS (NPR senior correspondent): Well, wait a second. How is it gone?
KRAUTHAMMER: As Peretz had pointed out in that piece, the essence of Democratic approach to our enemies in the world, and there are a lot of them and they're bad guys, is essentially appeasement. You talk with them, you sit down, you have a chat, you offer a carrot or two, and you see what happens.