Player of the Week: Joe Lieberman
Is Joe Lieberman a Democrat? That's been a tough question to answer since 2006, when he lost the Democratic primary as he sought a fourth term.
Of course, Lieberman went on to win reelection anyway, only as an independent. "I remain a Democrat for reasons of principle. I've been a lifelong Democrat, so I have no desire to leave the party," Lieberman told The Washington Post in a story published today.
Officially, Lieberman calls himself an "Independent Democrat" and caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, even as he's endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president and said he's willing to speak at the Republican National Convention in September.
The Lieberman Paradox was on full display this week. He angered many Democrats by joining a GOP-organized conference call to criticize Barack Obama's record on Israel, even as he spent much of the week leading the charge in favor of a climate change bill backed by most Senate Democrats. And for all the data points suggesting he's been disloyal to the Democratic Party, there are also more than a few to make the case that he hasn't:
DISLOYAL: He strongly supports the Iraq War and provides cover for the Bush administration on that as well as a variety of other foreign policy and homeland security issues. He donated $10,000 to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a close personal friend, and $5,000 to McCain's presidential campaign. He's leading a group called "Citizens for McCain" that will specifically target independents and Democrats (and, presumably, Independent Democrats, if he's not the only one).
LOYAL: He votes with Democrats on most other major issues, from the climate bill and this week's budget vote to employment discrimination and a host of other domestic topics. In 2007, the American Conservative Union scored his voting record an 8 on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being the most conservative, and his lifetime score is just 16. National Journal (sub req'd) rated him the 44th most liberal Senator in the chamber in 2007, though it also rated him more liberal than 72 percent of the Senate on social issues.
Lieberman has given a total of $130,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (which, of course, is trying hard to unseat Collins this year) and another $5,000 to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee. He's also donated to Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and Tim Johnson (S.D.).
So that all adds up to ... what? He votes like a Democrat most of the time, but breaks with his party on perhaps the defining issue of the era (Iraq). He gives to Democratic Senators and the DSCC, but also to an endangered Republican and, of course, the GOP presidential nominee. By most definitions, he truly is an "independent," yet he says he's a Democrat and doesn't want to leave the party. And there's no such thing as a real independent in the Senate anyway; lawmakers always caucus with one party or the other.
For now, Lieberman is still in the Democratic fold, though today's Post story notes that some Democrats would love to kick him out of the caucus next year if their majority is big enough (doing so now in a 51-49 Senate would throw the chamber back to GOP control). Would he want to slide right into the Senate GOP Conference now or next year? Perhaps he won't have to make that choice -- if he gets a job in a McCain administration.
Posted by: Anonymous | June 6, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jimmy | June 6, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rjstolb | June 6, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: pubichaironmycokecan | June 6, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: woodchuck64750 | June 6, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: woodchuck64750 | June 6, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: motiv8ed | June 7, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: majorteddy | June 8, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gman | June 11, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.