MORE ON NUTMEGGERS. Garance reminds me of something that will be a very important factor if Lamont wins the primary.

If that happens, certain MSM liberal and centrist pundits will start writing immediately about how the Democrats have lost their soul, gone radical, cashiered the last good man (I know, but they will). That will set a tone: Virtue will triumph only if Lieberman pulls it out. That narrative will be set in stone unless, that is, three things happen.

First, other Dem senators must follow Hillary�s lead (and come on, folks, give her props) and say they�ll support the Democrat. Key here obviously is Schumer, upon whom HRC has just put tremendous pressure. I covered Chuck�s Senate race, and Hillary campaigned hard for him. I was there the day after the 1998 primary, when contenders Gerry Ferraro and Mark Green stood next to Chuck at a press conference affirming that they would absolutely support the Democratic nominee -- support that was not exactly a given, especially in Gerry�s case, and support that helped him beat Al D�Amato. Schumer needs to be reminded of the fact that he benefited personally, in a big way, from Democratic post-primary unity.

Second, Lamont himself -- and this is the bitter medicine for some who are supporting Lamont thinking that he�s some kind of 1970 protest candidate -- needs to reassure the power elites that he is not some kind of one-issue extremist. If he wins the primary, he should hold a press conference the day after it saying that he had profound respect for Joe Lieberman, and that, on environmental issues and labor issues and a whole host of other things, he aspires to be worthy of continuing the Lieberman tradition.

Third, centrist Democratic organizations in Washington that might be tempted to follow the line of the above-noted MSM pundits need to be persuaded that the operative adjective is not centrist, but Democratic. That persuading needs to be done chiefly by the Lamont campaign, along the lines of my second point above, and it should be happening right now. If I were on his campaign, I would have started this process a month ago.

If those three conditions are met, Lamont could win a general. But only if those three conditions are met.

--Michael Tomasky