Lamont’s momentum vanished after the primary. Apparently the big guns from DC came in with some helpful advice, which was probably something like, “don’t emphasize the war so much, focus on the positive!” Of course, the entire election turned out to be about the war.
If the Democratic establishment had thrown some muscle behind Lamont, it would probably have made a difference, but mostly the big names were notable for their absence. John Edwards came to the state once that I know of, and Hillary Clinton and others indicated lukewarm support for their party’s nominee, but mostly the party tried to stay out of this one — all the while reassuring Joe behind the scenes that he would certainly keep his seniority if elected as an independent, not wanting to alienate the man, for heaven’s sake. Well, news flash: Joe was alienated the second he was challenged. He owes his re-election a much to Sean Hannity as he does to Democratic establishment timidity, and don’t imagine for one second that that’s not going to come back to bite Democrats in the ass.
To be honest, though, the other problem was the candidate himself. With all due respect to everyone who professed genuine enthusiasm for his candidacy, Lamont just wasn’t that compelling. He seemed sincere enough, and liberal enough in a cautious, moderate kind of way — which made him a raving leftist compared to Lieberman — but there was always something awkward about him as a candidate, like watching the clumsy guy at the party try to dance with the pretty girl. You’re kind of rooting him on, but you’re kind of cringing at the same time. Still, it’s not as if the dance floor was full of challengers with the willingness and the financial resources to take on Joe Lieberman. Sometimes you go to an election with the candidate you’ve got, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld.
Too soon this morning to know if the Democrats have eked out a razor-thin margin in the Senate, but if they have, it is dependent upon Sean Hannity’s best friend, Joe Lieberman. Which means the Republicans are still one vote up in everything pertaining to the war, torture, eavesdropping, etc.
Still: the Ct. race aside, the narrative of this election overall will be that Democrats won decisively, in an undeniable repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush agenda in general. It’s a shame that it took six years of chaos and death to get to this point, but sometimes you take what you can get.