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.

Doug Thompson published his first story and photo at age 11 -- a newspaper article about racism and the Klan in Prince Edward County, VA, in 1958. From that point on, he decided to become a newspaperman and did just that -- reporting news and taking photos full-time at his hometown paper, becoming the youngest full-time reporter at The Roanoke Times in Virginia in 1965 and spent most of the past 55+ years covering news around the country and the globe. After a short sabbatical as a political operative in Washington in the 1980s, he returned to the news profession in 1992. Today, he is a contract reporter/photojournalist for BHMedia and owns Capitol Hill Blue and other news websites.


  1. 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)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?


  9. 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.

  10. [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.

  11. 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. 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.

  13. 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

  14. ^ 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

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