For starters, Lamont is neither a radical leftist nor a single-cause campaigner. Why, he’s not even in favor of the domestic issue that often separates lefty true believers from pragmatic progressives: single-payer healthcare. Instead, he’s an employer-mandate man. If it’s true he is largely a political neophyte, he’s also a successful entrepreneur and a personality type comfortable for Connecticut: the gregarious prepster. ~Scott Lehigh, The Boston Globe

As I noted yesterday, pegging Lamont as a far-left radical just never tracked.  How is it that Lieberman thought Lamont’s real political weakness was his supposedly racially-insensitive country club membership if he represented the wild and wooly denizens of the fringe?  Country club folks of both parties will probably have less severe or hard-line politics than those that would be associated with the stereotypical leftist radical, even if they have more conventionally liberal views on a host of cultural and social issues.  Nothing can ruin a nice drinks party like a monomaniac ranting about social injustice or imperialism.  But, conventional liberal or no, Lamont is not simply some empty suit or a rabid left-wing maniac from the perfervid nightmares of David Brooks (his bourgeois bohemians have lashed out against the war, and he’s feeling grumpy!).  Lamont is definitely an opponent of the ungodly “McCain-Lieberman Party,” which, if it really existed, would be the concentration of most of what was wrong with our political life in one toxic dose.  (By the way, what in the world is the “Sunni-Shiite style of politics” and what does it have to do with Connecticut or America?  Did Lamont’s militia kill Lieberman’s supporters in Bridgeport while no one was looking?)  

Contrast the bitterness and smug superiority of the McCain-Lieberman duo (what a pair!) with Lamont.  Here, for example, is his appearance on the Report, where you will find someone who espouses the usual liberal platitudes about “reinvesting in America,” but who also expresses the basic sentiment that the war is not serving the American people or the national interest.  On this, if on nothing else, he is absolutely right and he does not deliver it in the Markos Moulitsas-foaming-at-mouth style but makes instead a measured, reasonable critique of disastrous policies.  It is difficult not to like Lamont at least a little, and not just because his opponent’s new allies are some of the lowest of the low.  He reminds me, at least at a superficial level, of Russ Feingold, who is one of the few Democratic Senators to consistently oppose Bush administration usurpations of Congress’ authority and violations of the Constitution.  Connecticut could do a lot worse–and for the last 18 years it has done. 

Just consider, on the most superficial level, the tone of the two candidates–who comes across as the more optimistic (supposedly a feature sorely lacking on the wacky left, but obviously omnipresent among the “gloomy hawks” of the GOP)?  The GOP doesn’t seem to care about that anymore.  It is now simply the party of war and the party of the smear, the party of baseless accusations and the odd rhetorical and political bastinado for those who object.