The Anti-Bush Movement

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; 2:18 PM

Political fledgling Ned Lamont's unlikely triumph over President Bush's favorite Democrat in the Connecticut Senate primary lends itself to all sorts of fascinating interpretations -- and one is that it could mark the emergence of an anti-Bush voting bloc.

Lamont's out-of-nowhere victory, fueled by his depiction of incumbent Joseph Lieberman as a presidential patsy, suggests a political awakening of that sizeable group of Americans who intensely disapprove of Bush, his war in Iraq, and pretty much anything else he touches.

Consider that, according to the latest Washington Post poll , a near-majority of Americans -- 46 percent -- strongly disapprove of the job Bush is doing. That's strongly. Another 12 percent somewhat disapprove.

On Iraq, which is the dominant political issue going into the 2006 election, 62 percent disapprove of Bush's leadership (52 percent strongly).

Political guru Karl Rove won his boss a second term in 2004 by making that election less a referendum on Bush as on his opponent, John Kerry. But the potential here is that the 2006 congressional elections could turn out to be the "accountability moment" that Bush retroactively claimed the 2004 election to have been, in a Washington Post interview in January 2005.

That's certainly what Lamont was telling Connecticut voters yesterday, in a message on his Web site: "Your vote will determine the national headlines tomorrow: 'Connecticut Democrats show support for war, President Bush' or 'Democrats in Connecticut foreshadow national call for accountability in Iraq.' Your call."

Analysis and Opinion

Adam Nagourney writes in the New York Times: "The victory of Ned Lamont over Joseph I. Lieberman, a three-term senator and former vice presidential candidate, was a vivid demonstration of how the Iraq war is buffeting American politics and of the deep hostility toward President Bush among Democrats. It also suggested there are stiff anti-status-quo winds blowing across the political landscape as the fall elections approach. . . .

"For Republicans already contemplating a gloomy fall horizon, the Lamont victory suggested that many Democrats -- stirred by their opposition to the war and hostility toward Mr. Bush -- are as energized as any group of voters in years, enough so to move them to the voting booth in huge numbers. . . .

" 'This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means,' said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the leader of the Democratic House Congressional campaign. 'This is not about the war. It's blind loyalty to Bush.' "

Susan Milligan writes in the Boston Globe: "Polls show that Democrats are more motivated to vote this year, noted Stu Rothenberg, an independent political analyst, a factor which could negate the Republicans' historically stronger get-out-the-vote efforts.

" 'From the numbers I've seen, they are generally more energized than the Republicans about the war, but not just about the war. They've had six years to build up their distaste' for the Bush administration on matters ranging from civil liberties to foreign policy, Rothenberg said.

" 'They'll want to send a message about the war, about George W. Bush. And it's not a friendly message,' he said."

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