Primary Lessons

Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at jlaksin@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.


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As President Obama’s poll ratings tumble and the Democratic majority in Congress continues to post record disapproval numbers, some on the Left have consoled themselves with the thought that the growing grassroots hostility to incumbent candidates transcends party and ideology. In this exegesis, liberal and progressive discontents are just as wound up – and just as influential – as their conservative Tea Party counterparts. If this week’s primary election results proved anything, it’s that this reading of the nation’s political map won’t wash. While the Tea Parties continued to notch victories in pivotal primary races, the Left’s insurgents were rebuffed.

The most prominent example came from Arkansas, where embattled Senator Blanche Lincoln staved off a bruising challenge from her union-backed rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Lincoln drew Big Labor’s wrath for heresies like opposing “card check” legislation, which would have eliminated secret ballots to facilitate union organizing. As payback, unions, aided by a battery of progressive political action groups, put their full political clout into the race, sponsoring Halter to the tune of $10 million. But while the lavishly funded challenge did force Lincoln into a runoff, the unions’ purchasing power came up short. As one agonized Obama White House official told Politico: “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.” Lincoln remains deeply vulnerable. Polls show she trails her Republican opponent John Boozman by some 25 points. But her defeat, if it comes, will be punishment for being too loyal to the Left’s agenda (Lincoln cast the decisive 60th vote to pass ObamaCare) rather than for straying too far from it.

Lest one dismiss Arkansas as a one-off from conservative country, liberal bastions proved no more receptive to left-wing insurgents. In California’s 36th district, far-Left candidate Marcy Winograd lost her second successive bid to oust Democratic centrist Jane Harman. Winograd, who styles herself as a “peace” activist, ran a campaign that sounded the full range of the angry Left’s talking points: Harman was variously portrayed as a corporate shill, a warmonger, and a traitor to the Left. An outspoken foe of Israel, Winograd even tried to capitalize on Harman’s pro-Israel record in the context of the recent clash between Israeli commandos and armed Turkish activists attempting to run Israel’s naval blockade. Winograd boasted that as a sign of “solidarity” with the activists, her campaign had sent a Winograd for Congress T-Shirt that had been “worn on the flotilla.” As primary day neared, progressive blogs began trumpeting Winograd as the new Joe Sestak – a true progressive who would oust the incumbent impostor. The hype proved just that, as Harman won by a comfortable 18-point margin.

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  • USMCSniper

    "Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear and retreat." "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage." "The threat is generally more terrifying than the thing itself." "In a fight almost anything goes. It almost reaches the point where you stop to apologize if a chance blow lands above the belt." "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it." "The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength." For instance, Democrats imply conservatives are racists or that Republicans want to kill senior citizens by limiting the growth of the Medicare system,

  • kim

    The old saying : don't interfer with the enemy while it is self_destructing :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Tar_n_Feathers Tar_n_Feathers

    The radical Left versus Tea Party conservatives is a stark contrast in practical real-time politics. The Left is a toxic anathema that Dem candidates have to tip-toe around–perhaps pay them some token lip service–but ultimately keep their distance. Tea Party conservatives may not run the show, but they've proven to be an important, politically viable constituency that GOP candidates must take seriously.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Rifleman Rifleman

    The WaPo's quotes will probably backfire on them. That was part of Ronald Reagan's genius. He would say things that most Americans agree with, but would sent the dp/msm into such fits that they would give him gobs of free advertising with their screaming and carrying on.

  • Jackie Mason

    Angle is a total nutjob, so much so that Palin wouldn't endorse her. Reid couldn't have chosen a better opponent. For him.

    • Scar

      WUT????????? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Austin Milbarge

      It really doesn't matter if she endorsed her or not. She is leading Reid in the poles 50% to 39%. Say buh-bye to the biggest weenie in Washington! Make that second biggest weenie.

  • pyeatte

    I hope Reid keeps thinking that. Reid problem is 14-15% unemployment in Nevada partly because Reid never went to bat for Nevada at the national level. Obama advised people not to go the Nevada for conventions and such – Reid didn't fight that. He has proven to be a creature of DC and forgot to represent the people in his own state. If I recall Obamacare was very unpopular in Nevada and Reid pushed it against the will of his people. She is going to clean his clock.

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  • Gregor Perra

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  • Gregory G

    Well her defeat did not come but it will… and it will be punishment for being too loyal to the Left’s agenda rather than for straying too far from it for sure! Espressomaschinen Berlin

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    How will Reid get over that unemployment rate in different state or in Nevada?

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