So the good news in the Connecticut Senate race is that the party is finally stepping up to the plate. Unfortunately, the news is good for Joe Lieberman, because the party that's rising to the occasion is the GOP.
The question is: why aren't the Democrats doing the same thing for Ned Lamont?
According to a story in yesterday's Hartford Courant, the Bush donor base has been opening its wallets for Lieberman. Conservative stalwarts like Joe Allbaugh. Remember him? He's the guy who helped manage Bush's 2000 campaign, then took over FEMA, where he hired Michael Brown. Or Don Nickles, who, until he left the Senate in 2005, was one of its most conservative members. The list goes on and on, which is one of the reasons why Lieberman has raked in $5.1 million in campaign cash since Aug. 9. The Courant details a phone call Karl Rove made to Lieberman, whom Rove calls a "personal friend," on Aug. 8. According to GOP consultant Scott Reed, that was "a signal to a lot of the Republican faithful to get engaged." Dick Cheney's non-endorsement endorsement was another green light.
The Rove/Cheney Seal of Approval has had the desired effect. A month ago, an ARG poll put Lamont just two points behind Lieberman. As of last week, ARG had Lieberman up by 12.
And what are the Democratic power players doing for Lamont? Claiming scheduling conflicts to justify why they can't campaign for the Democratic nominee. Barack Obama has been on a book tour around the country, but has carefully skipped Connecticut. And Hillary Clinton has also skipped Connecticut, instead sending a $5,000 donation and holding a quiet fundraiser for Lamont on the Upper East Side tonight.
Not exactly the cavalry riding to the rescue.
What's particularly confounding -- and distressing -- about the lack of strong party support for Lamont is that it comes at a time when we are being bombarded with calls from Democratic strategists, pundits, and self-appointed consciences of the party for the Democrats to stand for something.
Well, Ned Lamont stands for something. And his opponent, Joe Lieberman, stands for something very different. If the Democratic Party can't look at this race and decide that it needs to unequivocally rally around Lamont, then maybe it really is too confused to govern.
You certainly don't need to convince the Republicans what's at stake in Connecticut. Just look at how they responded. A phone call from Rove to Lieberman and a few kind words from the VP were all the party faithful needed to rally around a guy who's not even in their party. Why? Because they stand for something. And they support people who stand for many of the same things. Like Joe Lieberman.
You may hate what Republicans stand for, but you've got to respect the way they've put principle over party. Democrats, on the other hand, don't seem to care enough to fight for either one.
The field for the Democratic presidential nomination is already crowded. But, unlike 2006, the 2008 race won't be a referendum on George Bush. The candidate who stands for something, and has the guts to show it, will rise above the rest.
But why wait until '08? How about standing for something now, when it counts, and stepping up to the plate for Ned Lamont? Those who don't should pay a price down the line. The Lamont litmus test is one we should definitely get behind.