Political Hay

Connecticut’s Shame

The Chasm reopens in American political life.

By 8.9.06

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I am not Jewish.

I have never been to Israel.

I am not a Democrat in Connecticut or elsewhere.

But hearing a Connecticut Democrat on the local radio across the Long Island Sound sneering that Joe Lieberman is the Senator "from Israel"...In truth? I almost ran off the road.

I feel sorry for Democrats. Sort of. The party of FDR, Harry Truman, and JFK has come to this? More to the point, a member of the party that had Harry Truman recognize Israel literally within minutes of its announcing its existence is now of a mind to defeat a senior Senator...because he's Jewish?

Welcome to The Chasm. It is almost possible to feel it splitting the common American ground as it falls away. It has happened before.

The Chasm is the reason the 1936 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States against Franklin D. Roosevelt wound up in FDR's Cabinet as Secretary of the Navy. It is the reason Wendell Willkie, the 1940 GOP nominee opposing Roosevelt, wound up running missions for his successful opponent. It is the logic behind the entire British political system melding into one as the realization Winston Churchill had called the menace of the anti-Semite Adolf Hitler correctly, right from the start.

But Americans in 2006 are only now discovering The Chasm, and there are Americans aplenty who still don't get it -- starting with Connecticut Democrats. One wonders about those continual polls that show our fellow countrymen so historically out of it that they think Lyndon Johnson was President during the Civil War.

There have been times aplenty in American history when the leaders of opposite parties bonded during crisis. Lifelong rivals Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas came together instantly when the two political and personal rivals who had vied for everything from the same woman to the same Illinois Senate seat and the presidency itself realized the fate of America rested on Douglas's ability to support the new President Lincoln. One of the first people President John F. Kennedy reached out to during the Bay of Pigs crisis was his just defeated opponent Richard Nixon -- who instantly rallied across The Chasm to his old friend and recent foe.

Much has been made by his far left opponents of Lieberman's willingness to play the hands-across-The-Chasm Douglas and Nixon roles. Yet the confluence of Israel's recent vulnerabilities mixed in with the battle for Iraq has suddenly -- or not so suddenly? -- drawn anti-Semitic venom. Is it a surprise that Lamont has accepted campaign help from Jessie "Hymietown" Jackson or Al Sharpton, the latter of whom has made a career railing against "diamond merchants"? All of this while Israel is fighting for its very life against opponents who use "ceasefire accords" as nothing more than rest stops on the way to killing more Jews?

As this is being written, the Connecticut NBC affiliate in New Haven shows Lieberman trailing leftist and MoveOn.org hero Ned Lamont 52%-47%. Could Lieberman still win? Sure.

But the Democratic Party -- the party of Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and others who happen to be Jewish -- the party of vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman -- has lost. The Chasm has opened, and Democrats are burning the bridge.

Shame.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.