On Wednesday's edition of CBS' The Early Show, anchor Harry Smith discussed the primary election results from the state of Connecticut with Senator Joe Lieberman and political analyst Amy Walter. Harry took his standard, normal position - the left side. (I would bet that at some point in his life, some place and some where, at some time, Harry Smith asked a question of someone from the more conservative side of an issue, but I've never seen it.) In the course of his interviews, Smith asked a question or prompted Lieberman with a comment, 5 times. 4 of them could be considered as coming from a neutral point-of-view, though the emphasis and context certainly seemed to be the Democratic point-of-view. The fifth was clearly a question from the Democratic point-of-view. (You can click here to see Harry Smith's questions for Senator Lieberman...)
HS: Incumbents do not get turned out of office, especially in primaries in this country. Do you understand that your support for the war is the reason you lost Tuesday?
HS: And that's why you've said you're going to run as an independent, even though polls show among Democrats, 61% of people polled yesterday said don't do it.
HS: I hear that. Also, though, through this race, there was a sense among people just, you know, talking to people in the corner store, at the local gas station, 18 years in the senate. Some folks there just said maybe Joe's lost touch with his constituency.
HS: But you are so closely aligned with his -- with his war policy.
HS: A final quick question. You'll run as an independent at risk of losing the seat to the Republicans? You understand that risk. By splitting the Democratic vote.
Clearly the last question is a question that comes from a partisan Democratic perspective. The interesting one to me is that first one. He doesn't ask Lieberman whether he thinks or considers that he lost because he supported the effort to go into Iraq - he asks whether Lieberman understands that that's why he lost. Smith's position assumes that position. It may, probably is, the case, but a "fair-and-balanced" questioner would not have started that way.
And there's a huge political analysis question that went unanswered. It went unanswered because, of course, it went unasked. It is a question something along the lines of "Senator, do you think that the fact that the extreme left was able to generate enough votes to beat you in the primary carries potential negative ramifications for national security?" But that's the kind of question that you see only if you're in the center or on the right. Those aren't places that Harry Smith stands.
After finishing with Lieberman, Smith went on to discuss the results with Amy Walter, who is a senior editor for the Cook Political Report. And again, his prompting came primarily from the left, from the "what does this suggest that the Democrats need to do?" position. (The mainstream press is always concerned about what the Democrats have to do to win.)
HS: Does this send a message to Democrats to say, if you want our support, you better get out there and be against the war and against the president?
HS: By and large, it's kind of a moderate state in many, many ways. A lot of Republican congressional seats there. Is this -- is there a wind? Is in a shift? Is there something that can be gleaned out of this?
I love that amusing suggestion that COnnecticut is a "moderate" state. When I look back two years, I see that there were only 5 states (plus Washington, DC) where John Kerry got a higher percentage of the two-party vote than he did in Connecticut. The extremely liberal Chris Dodd more than doubled the vote total of his Republican challenger. While it is true that there are three Republicans and only two Democrats in the US House of Representatives at the moment, a quick glance shows that the three Republicans, none of whom are conservative, won close races and the two Democrats won blow-outs. In the 2004 US Representative voting in Connecticut, the Democratic candidates took over 55% of the two-party vote. In other words, to call Connecticut a "moderate" state is to suggest that there's no such thing as a "liberal" state.
Which, come to think of it, probably accurately represents Harry Smith's feelings...