Hillary's Challenger Crucified on a Cross of Gold
Late this August, I had the pleasure of sharing a podium with a most remarkable man, Jonathan Tasini. Most Americans won't know his name, which is a shame, because he represents the only democratic challenge to the autocratic tenure of New York's junior Senator, and erstwhile 2008 Presidential contender, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In fact, outside of New York City and its immediate environs, Jonathan Tasini is almost a complete unknown. This intelligent, articulate person who has spelled out a solid "get out of Iraq" plan (and who has endorsed a sound "don't get into Iran" strategy as well) cannot get his candidacy injected into the mainstream of New York electoral policies not because he is a "kook" or purely derived from the fringes of the body politic, but rather for the most disturbing of reasons: He can't raise enough money. In the end, it appears that the only standard that counts in New York (and elsewhere in America, I dare say) is the Gold Standard. Bring enough money to the table, and lo and behold, your candidacy becomes instantly credible.
Compare and contrast the Senatorial bid of Jonathan Tasini with that of fellow Democrat Ned Lamont in neighboring Connecticut. Like Tasini, Lamont was a relevant unknown whose name recognition factor among most citizens in Connecticut was non-existent. Earlier this month Ned Lamont mounted a successful challenge to Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, knocking the three-term incumbent (and one-time Vice Presidential nominee) out of consideration for reinstatement in a fourth term as a democrat (Lieberman may yet challenge Lamont as an independent). Many observers point to the growing anti-war mood sweeping through America, including places such as New York and Connecticut, and Ned Lamont's ability to successfully tap into this sentiment as representing the main reasons for his stunning upset victory. Others will point to Joe Lieberman's unapologetic support not only for the Iraq War, but his unabashed embrace of the republican Bush administration's foreign and national security policies in a time when America is increasingly divided along partisan lines. These factors did contribute to Ned Lamont's viability in opposition to Lieberman. But the only thing that made Lamont viable as a candidate was his ability to underwrite his own election bid to the tune of some four million dollars.