Monday, August 07, 2006

Six More Years

If undecided primary voters in Connecticut needed reasons to swing their vote to either Joe Lieberman or Ned Lamont tomorrow, then New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz certainly did his best to give them several in the pages of--where else--today's Wall Street Journal.

Digby provides the spot-on summary of Peretz's tantrum: "You really can't read this histrionic classist, racist, red-baiting tirade without wondering why Peretz maintains the fiction that he is a Democrat."

And Peretz hits each of these low-lying adjectives with the sort of beside-the-point overkill his magazine's dwindling readers have come to expect from him.

Peretz opens his piece by condemning Lamont for the pedigree and sins of his great-grandfather and grandfather great-uncle*, noting that Lamont hails "from the stock of Morgan partner Thomas Lamont and that most high-born American Stalinist, Corliss Lamont." Never mind that Corliss Lamont's most famous contribution to left-wing American literature is his pamphlet "Why I'm Not a Communist." Any accusation of inadequate blueblood is pretty rich coming from a man whose sole credential for owning The New Republic is to be found in the Singer Sewing Machine fortune he married into.

Granted, it was not Peretz's magazine, but William Buckley's National Review, whose support for Lieberman in 1988 over a liberal Republican incumbent may have helped turn the tide against "liberalism." But nearly two decades have passed, and now Peretz is happily aligning himself with his neoconservative allies at Buckley's toxic gift to journalism. You can't even tell the damn magazines apart by their acronyms.

Not content with simple Red-baiting, Peretz concludes his piece with the race card:
The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true.
We can argue over which is Peretz's worst nightmare: that African Americans have taken over the Democratic Party or that the "left" is taking over. What's clear is that there's very little Party to take over in the first place: "Karl Rove's dream come true" has been the muzzled gaggle of spineless Democrats--like Lieberman--who have cowered for the last six years while Bush was bravely feeding the remnants of our Constitution to the bonfires lit while clearing the brush off his ranch.

One of the problems with Peretz's argument is that it ignores the reality of what's left, right, and center among American voters. Guest-blogging at Salon's War Room, Glenn Greenwald points out that
Peretz copies the bizarre method used by almost every pundit who wants to equate a Lamont victory with doomsday for the Democrats. That is, he devotes his entire column to a purported discussion of the politics of the Iraq war without ever once mentioning or even alluding to the most significant fact: what the American electorate thinks about the war.

Thus, in the world occupied by people like Peretz and [Cokie] Roberts, only "left-wing radicals" are "antiwar" -- that view is the province of Maxine Waters and crazed bloggers -- while the serious, responsible, mainstream folk (like them) still support the commander in chief's difficult though noble decision to invade Iraq and to courageously slog on with the occupation. Facts and polls -- which have long demonstrated exactly the opposite -- be damned.
Elsewhere in his fact-challenged screed Peretz recalls the ghost of George McGovern to remind us all how "appeasement" and "peace candidates" have ruined the Democratic Party before. Skipping over the equally relevant historical nicety of how Jimmy Carter's "centrism" is supposed to have strengthened the party, Peretz then issues his Dire Warning:

If Mr. Lieberman goes down, the thought-enforcers of the left will target other centrists as if the center was the locus of a terrible heresy, an emphasis on national strength.

Wow, Marty, you've won me over: it should be obvious to anybody how six years of bootlicking by Democratic "centrists" have done such miraculous wonders for the strength of the party and, for that matter, combating the far-right ambitions of the Republicans like Frist and Cheney. Let's do six more years of the same. "Stay the course," indeed.

* Correction: I've discovered that Corliss Lamont was Ned's great-uncle, not grandfather--which makes Peretz's guilt-by-pedigree charge even more ludicrous and irrelevant than it already is.