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Saturday, July 29, 2006

 
Pathological Fear Of Hippies

by digby


Do you ever notice those older ladies who still wear their hair in the style they first adopted when they were 22 years old? Or eyeglasses? For some reason they never noticed that 40 years have passed since they first wore that style and they've never thought to take a look in the mirror and assess whether it still suits them.

That's what the Washington political establishment is like when it comes to the Democratic party. They are still wearing their 60's era cat-eye bifocals and helmet-head beehives long after they ceased to be fashionable.

The people backing Lamont are nothing if not sincere. But their breed of Democrats -- many of them wealthy, educated, extremely liberal -- often pick candidates who are rejected by the broader public. Many of the older Lamont supporters went straight from Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern in the 1960s and '70s to Howard Dean in 2004. They helped Joe Duffey challenge Sen. Tom Dodd in Connecticut for the 1970 Democratic nomination on the Vietnam War issue, only to lose to Republican Lowell Weicker in November. Lamont's campaign manager, Tom Swan, is also director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group, a populist organization founded in the 1970s by Toby Moffett, a Ralph Nader protege and anti-Vietnam activist who was one of the "Watergate babies" elected to the House in 1974. Moffett's political career also was ended by a loss to Weicker, who stayed in the Senate until Lieberman finally beat him in 1988.


Gosh, don't tell anybody, but Joe Lieberman ran Bobby Kennedy's Connecticut campaign in 1968. In fact, if you look at most professional Democratic politicians over the age of 50, you can probably find a connection to that unreconstructed hippy hero George McGovern within one degree of separation. I guess that explains everything.

I don't know what the hell he's talking about when he says that those who voted for McCarthy and McGovern went directly to Dean. If these "political activists" were old enough to vote in 1968 you can bet they also voted for Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore and Kerry. I voted for all those guys. It's simpleminded bullshit to say that the biggest threat to the party is liberal elites. We've been voting for every preachy southern conservative and every bland technocratic centrist they've thrown at us since 1976. (It sure would have been really great if even one of them -- except Carter, who barely pulled it off --- could have won a fucking electoral majority! )

This is a deep and festering illness within political circles for which the only cure is to plug your ears and stop listening to the geezers. As far as David Broder and his ilk are concerned, nothing consequential has happened in the Democratic party in 38 years. That's the whole ball of wax --- "liberal insurgents," "silent majority" "Anti-Vietnam activist" all of it. Their irrational fear of hippies has rendered them incompetent to understand current politics for what they really are. And it has handed the Republicans the most powerful weapon in ther arsenal.

The thing that scared the straights (like Broder, I'm sure, considering his panic over the Clintons) back in the day was massive numbers of young long haired males and liberated braless women and blacks with huge afros that theatened all their fundamental beliefs about how society was supposed to operate. This was a jarring social and cultural change from the super conformist 50's and it freaked people out.

The political issues were just a small part of why people voted for Nixon both times and why the political establishment moved to the right (as the culture itself grew ever more liberal.) Broder and his pals' facile rendering of that history has pretty much crippled liberalism for almost 40 years and it's long past time that we ignored those who persist in perpetuating it.



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