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Joe Lieberman deserved his election victory

By Doug Thompson
November 13, 2006

A few months ago, knee-jerk Democrats who insisted on Republican-style lockstep from all who march under their banner celebrated with open glee the defeat of maverick Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary election.

That unabashed joy carried over into the liberal blogging world where the pundit wannabes on sites like Daily Kos claimed credit for Lieberman’s defeat and predicted Ned Lamont’s staunch anti-Iraq-war stance would carry him to victory in November.

Lieberman, they said, was toast, his career in politics over. The man who carried the Democratic banner as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 became yesterday’s garbage.

But political garbage has a way of returning to stink up the joint. Joe Liberman is now the fly in the ointment, the turd in the punchbowl, the monkey-wrench in the Democratic machine that wants to control the United States Senate.

Turns out old Joe Lieberman knew a hell of a lot more about Connecticut politics than the keyboard commandoes. He ran as an independent and sent Lamont, a one-issue sham candidate, packing along with a token Republican opponent that even the GOP wouldn’t back.

Some sore losers claim the GOP sealed Lieberman’s victory with backroom deals, secret campaign donations and private advice. In the end, the voters of Connecticut, all the voters not just some activist Democrats, spoke and elected the man they felt best represented their state. They didn’t let the bloggers, the pundits and the knee-jerkers speak for them. They decided, which is the way it should be.

Some bloggers and Democratic activists want Lieberman punished for committing what they see as the unpardonable sin of supporting George W. Bush’s ill-conceived and illegal war in Iraq. Like others, I can’t understand Lieberman’s support of the war but I also don’t judge a man for one decision in a lifetime of public service.

Joe Lieberman was, and will remain, a good Senator who represents his state. The naysayers claim Lieberman sold out his state with his stance on Iraq. The voters in Connecticut, the only ones who really have a say in all this, disagreed and returned Lieberman to the Senate.

A more vengeful man would have told the Democratic Party to grow screw itself and tossed control of the Senate back to the Republicans. But Lieberman is not a vengeful man and pledges to caucus with, and back, the party that dumped him so easily.  He plans to seek a committee chairmanship that he has earned through his seniority in the Senate.

If the Democrats are smart they will welcome Lieberman back into the fold. They should remember the painful lessons Republican learned in 2001 when Jim Jeffords, ostracized by the GOP because he wasn’t conservative enough for the new order, left the party and turned control of the Senate over to Democrats for two years.

How the Democrats treat Joe Lieberman in party caucuses this week will show whether they are serious abut setting a new tone in Washington.

It’s the first of many tests to see if Democrats are any better than Republicans when it comes to keeping campaign promises and the trust of American voters.

30 Responses to Joe Lieberman deserved his election victory

  1. lefttomyowndevices

    November 13, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    What part of “lost the primary” don’t you understand? It’s customary for the loser to yield to the victor in the primary. Naturally, Lieberman raised the ire of many of us by refusing to play by the rules and by kow-towing to a president who had launched an illegal war under false pretenses.

  2. Ann

    November 13, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Doug I usually agree with you but I have to disagree this time. Lieberman was a sore loser and he started something we may well be sick of before it is over and that is if you don’t win in one party during an election just run in another party the same election just change and go again.
    I would hate to see this repeated over and over. It is one thing to change your party but not twice in one year. Can anyone see what this will do we always have one running under one party and they loose so they just keep running in another party. I think Lieberman has started a bad thing. His ego is to big for any party.

  3. Dave

    November 13, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    This wasn’t brain-surgery, and it didn’t take a genius to see it coming. Lieberman formed a good-old-fashioned coalition of screw-the-Arab-Zionists (of which there are LOTS in Ct.) and GOP Big-Business Types (of which there are LOTS in Ct.) That, combined with the weakness of his opponents and the tendency to vote for an incumbent, sealed his victory.
    I think the man’s a first class jerk, but certainly a shrewd politician. And there are certainly some lessons to be learned here by the Dems, who are generally clueless on the political front.

  4. Dave

    November 13, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    I forgot to add the 3-way race and the “fashionability” of voting Independent, with all the disgust of the country these days. We Dems have a lot of work left to do if we’re gonna take the country back from some very selfish Joe-Lieberman types.

  5. Neondog

    November 13, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    1st & foremost..Leiberman was an enabler that allowed RepubliCons to turn their back on even an inkling of oversight toward the Bush regime.

    Doug, did you happen to see Lieberman being interviewed by Russert yesterday and if so what where your thoughts? It both scared me and pissed me off.

  6. Ann G

    November 13, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    Ned Lamont was NOT a one-issue candidate. He was courageous to take on a pro-war senator. One of the reasons Lieberman won is that the Republicans did not have a viable candidate and the party totally denied him any support. Also, Lieberman was heavily financed by Republicans and their interest groups.

  7. Doubtom

    November 13, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Now let’s see if I have this right–Lieberman lost in his party’s primary, but won election anyway. Apparently, the party apparatus didn’t favor him, so they didn’t vote for him; the Republicans certainly didn’t vote for him; that leaves only the Independents who must be surprised to be stronger than either of the established parties. How likely is that? I know that Maine has more Independents than either Democrats or Republicans but I didn’t know that was true about Connecticutt as well. Maybe there’s hope for a functioning third party after all.
    I think Margaret, alone among the posters, has the right slant on this Lieberman “victory”. What we saw is the manifestation of the power of AIPAC, (which it is continuously trying to play down) to override the efforts of all parties with money and threats. Lieberman has made his Senate seat into an Ambassadorship for Israel. But I hasten to correct one point, Liberman is not owned by AIPAC, he’s owned by Israel outright.

  8. soldat

    November 13, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    ^ Word…

    AIPAC is a subject I would like to see Doug’s take on, but alas, that might get him murdered if he approached it with the brutal honesty he is known for.

  9. Timothy Richley

    November 13, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Doug, Lieberman is quoted in my newspaper(San Antonio Express News) in an interview that he will keep his options open, and that if the reps would guarantee his seniority, and if he feels that the dems are not treating him well enough-he says that he does feel some animosity towards dems who supported Lamont-then he will pick up his toys and move over to the rep side of the aisle. If this interview is accurate, and I have no reason to doubt it, then Mr Lieberman is going to use his position as a independent-democract to try and force the dems to give him everything that he wants. To me, he sounds like a person who has let his ego take over everything. He did welcome the support of the rep party and in fact had private meetings with both Rove and GWB during the recent campaign. It sounds like he is saying to the dems, I am holding your majority over your heads like a sword, if you do not go along with everything that I want, then I will become an Independent-rep

  10. Jim H

    November 13, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    There’s only one explanation for Lieberman, and that’s old age and treachery. He’s in his glory now. Everybody has to pay attention to the whiner from Connecticuit.

    There’s a word for him: opportunist. When he LOST the Democratic primary, Karl gave him a call, and lots of campaign cash, of the Swift Boat variety. His position on Iraq totally changed. Suddenly, he wasn’t Bush’s lapdog. He was the august Senator who always had his doubts about the war. Snicker. Any other ideas were just vicious fabrications his enemies made up by quoting his words.

    Doug, sometimes the devotion to the so-called center is its own kind of fanaticism.

  11. MHodgkins

    November 13, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    WOW!!! I’m a CT D and all i can say is you sir are a Jackass! It’s very clear that you have not a clue what the issues were in this race. Nor why so many Dems dumped Joe on Primary day. From Terri Shivo to the War to the chenny energy bill to note only three. For a person who calls himself a journalist you have done one damned poor job of getting the story or the facts here. Next time you want to talk about a CT Race take some time and do some research.

  12. Jeffers

    November 13, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    [quote]
    Can anyone see what this will do we always have one running under one party and they loose so they just keep running in another party. I think Lieberman has started a bad thing. His ego is to big for any party.[\quote]

    1st: Lieberman didn’t start this. John Anderson and others have done this for years.
    2nd: Since independents can often vote in primaries, the primaries don’t represent parties anymore. And people don’t have to stay in parties anymore.

    Parties have lost their meanings and tend to be run by the extremes.

    You want accountability in the parties and power to the third parties? Make the parties run and pay for their own primaries. Make them closed, so people have to pick a party. This will change things.

    Lieberman just used the rules that were available to him. If not, I’m sure they would have taken him to court.

  13. S. Reid Warren, III

    November 13, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    Some members of Congress, Lieberman a prime example, believe that the Congress cannot get along without their “wisdom” and voting record. He was incensed that Lamont beat him out in the primary and that some of his Democratic colleagues did not back him. Instead of being reflective about why his easy shoe-in seat seemed for a moment to elude him, he appealed to Republican conservatives as he has for at least the last six years, and they re-elected him. In his interview with Russert yesterday I saw the same smarmy Lieberman I’ve been seeing for the past six years – wrapped up in the flag of patriotism and the pages of some bible. He protrays himself as being the ONLY member of either party able to reach across the aisle. Frankly, many others with better values and less self-serving voting recrods do a much better job.

    He’s just a Democratic John McCain – ready to pander to whoever will assure his election.

  14. Doug Thompson

    November 13, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    soldat writes:

    AIPAC is a subject I would like to see Doug’s take on, but alas, that might get him murdered if he approached it with the brutal honesty he is known for.

    When I took a break from journalism to work on Capitol Hill, my first job was as press secretary to Rep. Paul Findley (R-IL), who — with Rep. Pete McCloskey — were the only members of Congress with the guts to take on AIPAC. I’m not fan of theirs and I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

    lefttomyowndevices writes:

    What part of “lost the primary” don’t you understand? It’s customary for the loser to yield to the victor in the primary.

    Oh I fully understand lost in the primary. I also understand the word “independent.” I happen to like independents, having been one all my life. I also don’t like partisans.

    Next question?

    –Doug

  15. john white

    November 13, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    I suspect that the Lieberman thing is yet another example that politics, not unlike war, is rarely won but often lost. Ned Lamont LOST the election. I watched him on TV, and he obviously had handlers that pretty much stripped him of any humanity, and turned him into the quintessential one note politician.

    Lieberman, I believe, is now on notice. If he continues to be the front guy for Israeli policy, and war mongering, he will not be elected again.

  16. Billie

    November 13, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    Joe Lieberman is a disgrace
    to the Democratic party and
    a disgrace to our country.
    His hypocritical positions
    are obvious to those of us
    that puts AMERICA first.
    I am sure Israel will appreciate his loyalty, but
    they are welcome to him. We
    need Senators that are Loyal to the United States.

  17. AustinRanter

    November 13, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Im certainly not a Lieberman fan, but from a strategy stand point, going Independent ultimately turned out with far more provocative power capabilities than anybody had conceived prior to the election. Senator Lieberman is now, as said in a number of editorials, possibly the most powerful Senator in recent history.

    I agree that he’ll have to forego some behavior modification in order to maintain his seat, but he can virtually play any side of the fence he wants to.

    Who knows, maybe he’ll want to commit political suicide and wreak havoc in a serious Congressional matter just because there is a substantial long-term payoff for his constitutents or even for his person gain???

    I would have to guess that not even Lieberman would have ever envisioned the election turning out like it did…and placing him at the top of the magot list.

  18. John B.

    November 13, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Doug, your columns often make my day, but this is not one of them! Foriegn affairs aside, Lieberman’s unabashed support of “Bankruptcy Reform” last year turned my stomach. Seems little Joe will do anything the Wall Street Deal-Meisters ask him to do! These “Independent” Democrats are just as beholden to Wall St. interests as any neocon Republican!

  19. neondesert

    November 14, 2006 at 1:28 am

    I have to back Doug on this one.

    You folks have to remember that the senate is the body which truly represents this country’s federation of states, where all states have an equal say, regardless of other circumstances. Agree or disagree with his decisions, Lieberman’s position is at it’s core for only one thing in this government: represent the state of Conn. If the residents of Conn. feel he represents them best, then he’s the man for the job.

    Now that might not seem to be such an important issue when weighed against the possibility of a republican-controlled senate, but it’s one of the cornerstones of our democratic republic.

    Remember this: Lieberman is not the deciding factor in any policies any more than any other senator. If he alone had voted for the war, it wouldn’t have happened.

  20. South Point Man

    November 14, 2006 at 3:33 am

    No more of the USA being Israel’s buttmonkey.

    Those hired to work in the federal government are supposed to work for us, their employers. Not for Israel.

    It’s no more acceptable for a jew in the our federal government to place the interests of Israel first and foremost than it would be for a catholic to place the interests of the Vatican first and foremost.

    If we hire the federal workers, then they work for *us* and this is NOT open to compromise or negotiation. And if they don’t like this, fine, they can resign and someone else can take over that job who WILL work for the USA and protect and uphold the Constitution as is part of their job description to do so.

    If Lieberman considers the interests of Israel most important of all, fine, then Lieberman can move to Israel and do so there.

  21. Ed

    November 14, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    As far as losing the primary and then running as an independent: Every politician anywhere would do the same if they thought they would or could win. Each one of you would do the same. You want to keep your job don’t you? The laws in Conn. are set up as they are and every one must follow them. Blaming Lieberman for running as an independent is silly. Not that I would have voted for him, but he did nothing wrong in running. In NYS we have several minor parties with ballot lines. They sometime have one of the Dems or Reps as a candidate sometimes they put there own person up. Sometimes this had produced 3 way races. This is how we got stuck with Al Demoto(sp)

  22. margaret

    November 13, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Joe Lieberman is an Israel First-er, owned by AIPAC. He supports the war in Iraq because it serves Israel to have Americans foot the bill and lose the lives to do Israel’s bidding, just as he supports an American attack on Iran and Syria and whoever else Israel wants us to bleed and die for at their behest. His interests are with Israel, not his own country. That’s why he’s a bad choice.

  23. soldat

    November 13, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    Amen Margaret…

    I have a question for you Doug, how do you reconcile your support for Lieberman (incumbent) with the last six years of rants?

    Joe has not been a bystander in all that has happened on duh-bya’s watch – he has been an enabler, as such he deserves every Americans scorn.

  24. Doug Thompson

    November 13, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Soldat writes:

    I have a question for you Doug, how do you reconcile your support for Lieberman (incumbent) with the last six years of rants?

    As I said in the column:

    Like others, I can’t understand Lieberman’s support of the war but I also don’t judge a man for one decision in a lifetime of public service.

    I don’t believe in single-issue politics. Never have, never will. That is something that those who have read my columns for the past 12 years understand.

    Neither, apparently, do the voters of Connecticut and, in the end, the decision of who represents them is up to them, not us.

    –Doug

  25. Kent Shaw

    November 13, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    As far as single issue politics goes, the Iraq War is a pretty large and death-dealing single issue.

    According to evote.com, whose accuracy I cannot verify, the following has occurred.

    In 2000, Phil Giordano (R) lost to Joe Lieberman (D).
    Giordano got 448,077 votes.

    http://www.evote.com/?q=elections2000/CT

    In 2006, Ned Lamont (D) lost to Joe Lieberman (I).
    Lamont got 448,077 votes.

    http://www.evote.com/?q=elections2006/CT

    Anyone care to comment?

  26. John Hanks

    November 13, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Nobody deserves to be elected any more. They are just hired guns for crooks.

  27. Dan

    November 13, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    I remember, during the 2004 Democratic Presidential debate, Gov. Dean commented that our policy in the Middle East should be more even-handed. Lieberman immediately objected, saying that the two sides should work it out between themselves. This told me that he was too partisan in favor of Israel. I believe the way to peace in the ME is to be even-handed.
    Other than that, he has been a good Senator.

  28. Ed

    November 13, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    First of all I really enjoy your site. Particularly your rants. But I’m a little tired of people complaining about Connecticut’s Democratic primary voters. They voted for who they thought best. That was Lamont. If you disagree with a candidate you have every right to vote against him. No matter what some pundit with a web site chooses to said. No politician deserves the job just because the have it now. They have to reapply to the people every 2, 4 or in this case 6 years. The voters in the general election also voted for who they thought was best. That was Lieberman.
    As for Lamont being one issue, the war is the issues he focused on for the primary. You are just reading Lieberman’s and the Reps talking points when you repeat that. You should know better given your experience in politics.

    If Lieberman had said in retrospect it was a mistake to go into Iraq. Or something different from ‘stay the course’ he would have won the Dem primary. It’s not his choice in 2003 that is the problem it’s his bushish refusal to see reality of the situation right now that is the problem.

    If Lieberman had said in retrospect it was a mistake to go into Iraq. Or something different from ‘stay the course’ he would have won the Dem primary. It’s not his choice in 2003 that is the problem it’s his bushish refusal to see reality of the situation right now that is the problem.

  29. Bob

    November 13, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    NBC’s Tim Russert kept pressing Lieberman on using the threat of caucusing with the GOP to get his way or else turn the Senate over to Republican control. That seems very unlikely. First, it would break his public promise to and outrage the 1/3 of CT Democrats who voted for him and gave him his margin of victory, as well as many CT independents, and the Democratic caucus. Second, a 50-50 Senate tie does not give the GOP full control even with Dick Cheney. Commentators forget the Senate was 50-50 after the 2000 election, and the Democrats refused to allow the organizing resolutions to proceed unless and until the GOP agreed to share control: equal number of committee members, committee co-chairs, equal staffing and budgets. They would do that again, and Lieberman would have to co-chair Homeland Security instead of being the sole chair. Third, Llieberman would lose his influence in the Democratic caucus to get them to move to the center, and gain little besides lip service among the GOP members. Fourth, Lieberman could become a public scapegoat for stalemate in Congress. If he fires that political bullet, his gun is empty, and his political career probably is over.

  30. soldat

    November 13, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you for your response Doug.

    “Turd in a punchbowl” is a very fitting term for Lieberman – he’s just another floater in the cesspool that is Washington.

    Look folks, regardless of the past election the light of Democracy is still close to going out in this country – and Lieberman is part of the problem.

    It’s not just a single issue concern – it’s cumulative.

    Any politician who voted for the war, the Patriot Act, allowed, or participated in the myriad BushCo assaults on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and people of the US must be defeated.

    They are a greater danger to our Republic than any external threat.

    Democrat or Republican, those holding office over the last six years deserve nothing but our scorn.