Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meet Mr. Lamont!

Today's blog is a departure from my favorite sport of playing with Joseph I. Lieberman; for as much fun as I take in skewering him, what follows is far more important than any delight I might derive from Liebersnarking. From of all places, the conservative, right-wing Wall Street Journal, our next Senator from CT, Ned Lamont, offers us a post-win editorial that not only speaks truth, but gives those unfamiliar with his positions a clear picture of his business background.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I offer you Ned Lamont in his own words.

The Democrats Mean Business
Washington needs an entrepreneurial approach.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
In the past week, my victory in the Connecticut Senate primary has been labeled everything from the death knell of the Democratic Party to the signal of our party's rebirth. Beneath all of this punditry is a question that I want to face directly: how the experience I will bring to the U.S. Senate will help Connecticut and the Democratic Party during this time of testing for our country.

I ran at a time when people said "you can't beat a three-term incumbent," because I believed that President Bush, enabled by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, had weakened our country at home and abroad. We're weaker economically, because we're more dependent on foreign energy and foreign capital. Our national security has also been weakened, because we stopped fighting a real war on terror when we made the costly and counterproductive decision to go to war in Iraq.

My confidence that Connecticut was ready for a real debate and a real choice this year was founded not only on current events but also past experience. It was my career in business that shaped my outlook, and helped prepare me to run the race I did.

In 1984, with a loan from People's Bank, I started Campus TeleVideo from scratch. Our offer was unique: Rather than provide a one-size-fits-all menu of channels, we let the customers design their cable system based on the character of the community being served.
From the moment I filled out that loan application, I've been in every part of the business--pulling cable, hiring workers, picking a good health-care plan, closing deals, listening to customers and fixing problems. It's been profitable, and it's been instructive, a quintessentially American experience. Here, entrepreneurs have the freedom to be successful in ways the rest of the world admires.

These defining lessons of my business experience are central in my campaign: identifying the challenges that face our state and offering real solutions. Something clearly worked, because the voters decided to do what our Founding Fathers envisioned; they put their trust not in a career politician but in a concerned citizen and experienced businessman who promises to rock the boat down in Washington.

Here are the four lessons of my business life that I talked about every day on the campaign trail, and that have resonated with Connecticut Democrats:

• First, entrepreneurs are frugal beasts, because the bottom line means everything. In Connecticut, voters are convinced that Washington has utterly lost touch with fiscal reality. We talked about irresponsible budget policies that have driven the annual federal deficit above $300 billion and the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Meanwhile, the government is spending $250 million a day on an unprovoked war in Iraq while starving needed social investment at home. I am a fiscal conservative and our people want their government to be sparing and sensible with their tax dollars.

• Second, entrepreneurs invest in human resources. Our business strives to pay good wages and provide good health benefits so that we can attract employees that give us an edge in a competitive marketplace. Well-trained and well-cared-for people are essential for every business these days, particularly in a global economy. It's getting harder and harder for American businesses to compete on price, but we innovate and change better than any economy on the planet. The quality of our work force is one of America's competitive advantages--if our education system fails our children and our employers, we'll lose the future.

That's why I talked about my work as a volunteer teacher in the Bridgeport public schools, which can't afford to be open later than 2:30 p.m., schools that send children home to an empty house. That's why my campaign offered a strong alternative to standardized tests and No Child Left Behind. That's why I believe in an employer-based health-care system that covers everyone, and providing tax benefits to small businesses so they can provide insurance without risking bankruptcy.

• Third, in a market-driven economy, entrepreneurs can never lose touch with what customers, suppliers and workers are saying. A great strength of our campaign is that we embraced the grassroots and netroots, suburbs and inner cities, and used the most advanced technology to empower our door-knockers and activists. We listened hard and respectfully to what voters told us, and gave them the confidence to trust someone new.

• Finally, entrepreneurs are pragmatic. Unlike some politicians, we don't draw a false strength from closed minds, and we don't step on the accelerator when the car is headed off the cliff.

By every available metric, the "stay the course" strategy in Iraq is not a winning strategy. Changing course is neither extreme nor weak; it is essential for our national security.

We start with the strongest, best-trained military in the world, and we'll keep it that way. But here's how we'll get stronger by changing course. We must work closely with our allies and treat the rest of the world with respect. We must implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and put in place real protections for ports, airports, nuclear facilities and public transit.

Good judgment is an essential part of good governance. But we're bogged down in Iraq, and hamstrung in the war against terror, by leaders who lacked judgment, historical perspective, openness to other cultures and plain old common sense. We offer something different.
But in the final analysis, the results of this election say less about me, and more about the people of Connecticut. They turned out in record numbers; they spoke every day with a simple eloquence and urgency about the country we love. They oppose the war and the fiscal nightmare crafted by President Bush and his allies. But their vote, finally, was one based on pragmatism and reality, on optimism and hope. And it is to these ideals and values that we plan to address my campaign in the months until November.

Mr. Lamont won the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut last week.

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