Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 01/19/2011

The mixed record of Joe Lieberman

By Adam Serwer

Ezra Klein makes the only somewhat counterintuitive argument that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is retiring and would likely have not prevailed in a Democratic primary, turned out to be a net win for liberals after all:

Lieberman's behavior during the debate was often erratic and seemingly unprincipled. Among other things, he skipped the meetings where Democrats were trying to work out a compromise on the public option, and then he killed the Medicare buy-in proposal they'd developed -- despite endorsing that exact proposal months before. In doing so, he doomed a great piece of policy, and by doing it at the last minute, endangered the rest of the bill, too. But the reality is that the legislation simply wouldn't have passed without his vote. And after extracting his pound of flesh, he voted "aye."

That wasn't Lieberman's only moment as a good soldier for the Democrats: He was one of the key senators behind the effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He was also one of the three lawmakers involved in the most credible of the efforts to pass a cap-and-trade bill. The legislation failed, but if it had succeeded, it would've been in no small part due to his hard work. And Lieberman was loyal to his party in other ways, too. He was Harry Reid's single largest donor in the Senate, for instance.

Lieberman's positions on matters of civil liberties were deeply frustrating. He helped the White House block the release of photographs of detainees being abused, opposed the use of civilian trials for suspected terrorists, tried to introduce a bill that would have allowed the State Department to unilaterally strip the citizenship of any American merely suspected of "material support" for terrorism without anything resembling a trial, and, alongside Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), put forth a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens.

For the most part, though, while Lieberman often engaged in arguments that reinforced Republican frames, his voting record reveals a fairly reliable Democrat who ultimately supported a domestic agenda most liberals would approve of, from health-care reform to cap-and-trade to the DREAM Act -- and, as Greg reported on this blog, he played an essential role in the repeal of don't ask don't tell. If you were a Republican who thought McCain's one-time potential vice presidential nominee would obstruct the Democratic agenda, you should be more disappointed than a Democrat who feared the same.

That said, Connecticut can field a more liberal senator than Joe Lieberman. So while Lieberman's ability to frustrate liberals on domestic matters was more style than substance, I can't think of too many reasons liberals would be disappointed to see him go. I wouldn't label him a "Democratic hero," but as far as Democratic partisans are concerned, he's certainly no Voldemort either.

By Adam Serwer  | January 19, 2011; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, Senate Dems  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Lieberman to invoke JFK Democrats and decry "partisan boxes" in farewell presser
Next: Bad polling exaggerates support for repeal


Seriously folks,

I just don't see why Obama has not acted to put this issue behind him - otherwise any reasonable person MUST conclude that Obama has something to hide:

From today's reports:

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interview published today that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star Advertiser he was searching within the Hawaii Department of Health to find definitive vital records that would prove Obama was born in Hawaii

Conceivably, the yet undisclosed birth record in the state archives that Abercrombie has discovered may have come from the grandparents registering Obama`s birth, an event that would have triggered both the newspaper birth announcements and availability of a Certification of Live Birth, even if no long-form birth certificate existed.

WND has also reported that Tim Adams, a former senior elections clerk for the city and county of Honolulu in 2008, has maintained that there is no long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate on file with the Hawaii Department of Health and that neither Honolulu hospital - Queens Medical Center or Kapiolani Medical Center - has any record that Obama was born there.


The democrats are going to have A GREAT DEAL OF EXPLAINING TO DO if this paperwork doesn't turn out their way.

The democrats have NO PROOF - and yet they insist they are right.

Let's see the documentation - no name-calling.

ALL the democrats have done is resort to name-calling, INSTEAD OF PRODUCING THE DOCUMENTS.

Let's see the documents - and at this point the democrats should just shut up until the country gets the documents.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The retirement statement from Joe, goes a long way toward explaining his recent fight to repeal DADT. Does anyone really believe if he had run on the ticket with McCain that he would have called for repeal of DADT, on the campaign trail? Of course not.

Joe knew that he was not going to run for reelection, so his efforts on behalf of repealing DADT were just a last minute self-serving attempt to try and burnish his legacy.

If he were running for re-election, he would not have pushed for the repeal act. You can be sure of that.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse


The Salahis asked me to join them at their table tonight at the State Dinner for the General Secretary for the Communist Party of China.

I'm thinking, go with it.

What do you think?


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Greg, why haven't you banned caothien9?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse


Why haven't you banned Liam for participating in a SMEAR campaign against an innocent citizen on the pages of this lofty blog???

Why haven't you banned rukidding (Bobby Lee) for his Racist hate speech on the pages of this lofty blog ???

Why haven't you banned 12barbluesAgain for bringing Cao this blog, knowing exactly what he would do? She did it to act out on her destructive tendencies. She knew what she was doing, and even said she was proud of it and defended on it on the pages of this lofty blog.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I take it that JL will continue to chair Senate Committee on Homeland Security for about two more years. That is the most bloated and inefficient bureaucracy [reportedly] in the entire fed govt. So he and Collins and their committee have much to do, I think, and his record is not yet complete.

I am assuming this is simply an announcement that he will not run again, not a resignation.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 19, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

From the Honolulu Star Advertiser

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested in an interview published today that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Barack Obama may not exist within the vital records maintained by the Hawaii Department of Health.




Time to start calling Abercrombie a Birther - a raging, lunatic-fringed birther



Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

More importantly, is Hillary Clinton resigning?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse


Interesting notes coming out today

Obama's mother left for college 3 weeks after Obama was born - so she was essentially on summer break when Obama was born - she could have been anywhere.

Obama's father apparently did not live with the mother - he had his own apartment when she went off to school.

Apparently the father and the mother did not live together again after she left for school that fall.

The whole story just keeps going on and on

Then she gets out of school and ends up in Indonesia??? What is going on here???


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Tim Geithner is now a partisan moron.

What is wrong with him???


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 19, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Now is the best time for this shameless turncoat to go and run for the PM of Israel.

He should have left the stage in 2006 when Ned Lamont defeated him. Lieberman will go down in history as the agent of Israel, military industrial complex and of course, the insurance company.

For 8 years this man fanned the flames of war, supported Bush the worst president of all times and looked the other way while Bush wrecked our economy and waged immoral wars. Worst crime of Lieberman was joining forces with Palin/McCain to destroy the first black president of this nation. I don't think that history will forgive this traitor for such blatant betrayal of DEM trust and sabotage of the core values of our party.

Posted by: dressypink | January 19, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse


Homeland Security is something that keeps getting overhauled, every time some attempted terrorist incident occurs.

After 9/11, it was decided that the Stove Piping had to go, and all agencies should share information.

They ended up, putting all their eggs in one basket, where even a disgruntled low ranking military guy, was able to download the data, and pass it on to Wickileaks.

I am sure that we will now see Stove Piping make a comeback, as a reaction to the Wickileaks experience.

Stove piping or not; the FBI had all the information they needed, to have been able to get wind of the 9/11 plot. They even had the 20th hijacker in custody, but would not let the local FBI head access his computer data.

That was just pigheaded bureaucratic stupidity, which had nothing to do with inter agency turf wars.

The FBI has a history of not even detecting moles in it's ranks. In one case, they kept accusing one of their own senior agents, and almost drove him mad, and he was completely innocent, while the real mole was right under their noses, and living a luxurious life style, with a home that he should never have been able to afford.

PBS Frontline did a report, back in 2002, titled: The Man Who Knew.

It was about Special FBI agent John O'Neill, who died on 9/11 in the twin towers.

He spent years, after the first twin towers bombing, trying to chase down Al Qaeda, and he kept trying to convince the powers in Washington that Al Qaeda was going to try again to take down the towers.

He was not listened to. The Ambassador to Yemen, got him recalled from there, because she said he was upsetting too many people in power over there.

The FBI seized on a flimsy excuse to force him to retire, because he was being a pain, as far as they were concerned.

O'Neill was proven right, but unfortunately too late, for all the thousands who perished or were injured on 9/11.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

RainForestRising, so much for "The Most Transparent Administration in History."

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The governor of Hawaii could shove any piece of paper with the words "birth certificate" under your nose and you'd still yell "fake" no matter what, so what's the difference?

Posted by: cao091402 | January 19, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

All, still more proof that bad polling exaggerates support for repeal:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 19, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that "voted for health care reform" is setting the bar pretty low. As we're reminded by those idiotic scorecards in every election, considering only the final votes ignores what goes into the bills, committee work, and what never gets introduced at all; those are the areas where Lieberman did real damage.

Posted by: jimeh | January 19, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

UM. I don't see what a birther troll-spammer like RainForestRising's post has to do with Joe Lieberman retiring? I suppose that's the point they just want to show that they have mastered the high-tech art of cut and pasting like a true troll. OK. The issue be it completely off topic is also meaningless or otherwise trivial. It's like arguing about if a woman was a virgin on her wedding night years later after the kids are all grown. He was sworn in and so even if you could prove he was not a citizen, which you can't, he IS President and that is 10/10th's of the law at this juncture genius.

As to why every super-wealthy Jew in public life is retiring to spend more time with their families is the topic let's get back to that. Larry King, Regis, Joe Lieberman. Any others? Is Seinfeld signing up to jump into the same basement or missile silo for the 2012 blackout? It is certainly cause for concern or maybe cause for stocking up on canned goods and extra ammo... I'm just saying =)

Posted by: Informative | January 19, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Informative, you are not. Even at this juncture, if the GOP could prove that Obama was not a "natural born" citizen -- and he refused to resign in the face of said proof -- he would be impeached.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

@clawrence.....I've grown to like you..perhaps it's the hockey connection.

While the majority of us on this blog...and according to numerous polls the public at large..are totally over Sister Sarah...I get that you still like her. Keep proselytizing.
We get that you love Sister Sarah...and that's certainly your right.

BUT Clawrence while it's also your right to be a "birther" you lose all credibility as a serious person. There are no RESPECTED individuals of EITHER party..."serious" individuals using their intelligence instead of partisanship..who give even iota of credence to the entire "birther" conspiracy. It's simply absurd. People wouldn't think any less of you intellectually if you started spouting the world is flat and the moon is made out of green cheese...those two statements being equally plausible as all the "birther" nonsense.

You're smarter than that Clawrence. Love Sarah all you want but escape the wackadoodle fringe of the ruins your credibility and detracts from some otherwise very cogent posts.

Just my humble opinion and given with care not snark.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 19, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

But this is what the left is missing when they insist that Obama's detractors abandon the "birther" concerns: their own behavior during the Bush years.

The left accepted and tolerated the truthers, not IMHO because they agreed with the truthers position, but because it was yet another tone added to the cacophony of complaints about a man they hated.

The techniques employed by the left worked. When Bush left he had record low approval ratings. Much of that is to the credit of the left's relentless pounding.

Now their guy is on the recieving end of some major pounding. They've seen what they were capable of in their turn and so the effort is to cajole us into forgoing the tools that served the left so well.

A perfect example of this is the deeply stupid call for "civility" from the left. That is easily translated into "Do as we say, not as we do" and should rightfully be ignored by Obama's political opponents.

If endless, loud, vituperative complaining lowered Bush's standing and made it more difficult for him to act then why won't the same approach work on Obama?

If death threats and hangings in effigy worked for those who hated Bush, why shouldn't those same tools be available to those that mistrust Obama?

How many of the self righteous lefties here have visited the Zombie hall of shame? My personal favorite for hypocrasy is the poster of Bush with a bullet hole in the forehead. Can you imagine the hue and cry from outraged liberals if someone carried something like that to an anti Obama rally? My goodness the outrage from little crissy matthews would burn out plasma screens all across the free world!

but here we have folks assuring us that if we want to remain in good standing with the folks that hated a Republican president, we must act civily toward their leftist banner carrier.

No thanks.

I easgerly await the name calling. I also eagerly await the justifications for the boorish behavior of the left. I'm expecting a few "that was then this is now" type things. And finally some good old "But we'll never heal if you act now like we did then!"

Don't disappoint me

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 19, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

ruk, I appreciate your kind words, especially since I remember how incendiary you were before your "break." Nonetheless, when someone posts something that is factually and legally incorrect, I must step in. I didn't say that Obama is not a "natural born" citizen (that gets you banned around here). I simply used Informative's own scenario as to "even if you could prove he was not a citizen, he IS President and that is 10/10th's of the law at this juncture."

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 19, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse


Regis is not Jewish. Irish father, and Italian mother.

He is a Roman Catholic.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 19, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey washington post and it's radical leftist reporters..the Gov. of Hawaii cannot find Obama's birth certificate. Many of you smeared any one who asked this question three years ago.

Posted by: dancingrabbit | January 21, 2011 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company