Henry James and Edith Wharton once debated what the two most beautiful words in the English language were. They concluded the best of all were “summer afternoon.” Well, in what seems now like ages before the foiled British terror plot, it was a perfect summer afternoon on primary day in Connecticut on Tuesday. The sun was high, the humidity was low, and even as the Lieberman-Lamont race tightened, it was hard to be much concerned about anything more than whether the farm stand had run out of freshly picked blueberries.
And though the world news is bad, bad, bad every time you turn on Fox, on a summer afternoon you really want to push the world away, light up the grill, cut the tomatoes, and make sure you have cheese for the burgers. Still, the news came to town this week with the national attention on the senatorial primary slugfest — although Roxbury, the town in which I have a summer home, did seem less affected then most of the state.
Up the road a piece, however, in the little town of Washington, the anti-Bush feelings that fueled the Lamont campaign are running fairly high. A group in the town are asking their Board of Selectman to adopt a resolution calling for the impeachment of the president.They have tried this once before, and the selectmen denied the request 2 to 1 on the grounds that the meeting being sought would be improper, as municipalities have no formal role in national issues. Both a Republican and Democratic selectman voted against the petition. But the group is trying again and claiming the president should be impeached on the grounds that he has “subverted the Constitution.”
One of the town selectmen has offered a very New England-style compromise, suggesting the board call a special meeting for the petition to be discussed and the topic debated.
But the petitioners want more than that. They want an official town meeting. Ken Cornet, one of the petitioners, told the Litchfield County Times — which, incidentally, endorsed Lieberman, as did most local Connecticut papers: “The whole point is that we want it to be official. Otherwise, if we just have a discussion, those who don’t care won’t come out and it’s my personal feeling that people have to get involved in what’s going on. The last few weeks are evidence that we cannot just let politicians go off and do what they want.”
On Tuesday, I made my way over to the firehouse in Roxbury just to see how the voting was going. It was quiet, very quiet. There was one small handwritten “Vote Today” sign in front. In contrast, last spring in Roxbury, when the town voted down the school budget several times, there were signs for or against in almost every yard before every vote. Outside the firehouse there was a young woman reporter from the Waterbury Republican-American trying to find someone, anyone, to interview.
Inside, three neatly pressed Roxbury ladies were waiting for the voters. One told me that the voting in that district was about the same as usual, at only about 25 to 30 percent of the registered voters. Did anyone seem impassioned about voting? “Oh, there was one guy with an anti-Bush T-shirt,” one noted. “Did you make him take it off?” asked one of the others, creating a few giggles. “Nope. I guessed that might have made him look even worse.” The giggles grew louder. Roxbury is a very Republican town.
I asked: “Was there any ‘let’s impeach the President’ talk in town?” According to Mr. Cornet, lots of other local municipalities are interested in what the petitioners in Washington are trying to do. “They’re a little more hot-headed in Washington than Roxbury,” one of the ladies said, and smiled with some satisfaction.
Later when the sun set and that beautiful summer afternoon was over, my whole family came inside to watch the local stations. When eleven rolled around — at exactly the right moment to catch the top of the news — Lieberman made a smooth concession speech that really was a speech to jumpstart his next campaign. He did it in his humble but confident style. When the local channel finally was able to switch to Ned Lamont’s victory party, the senatorial candidate seemed a lot less focused. He reiterated his campaign message, declared the drinks were on him, and was surrounded by a grinning Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Maxine Waters, as well as NOW’s President Kim Gandy. The four of them never left the candidate’s side and never got out of the TV’s picture frame.
Lieberman’s run will be a tough one, even though he lost the primary by less than the media was predicting. And, yes, there will be cries of “Sore Loserman” from Lamont’s supporters. But I think his candidacy will be a help to the state’s Republican Congressional candidates, especially Nancy Johnson, who represents towns such as Roxbury, as well as some Democratic strongholds. The “hot-headed” ones enraged at the president were the fuel for Lamont’s campaign. In Connecticut, in the chillier winds of November, a cooler sensibility should prevail.
– Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.