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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Joe Lieberman's legacy

By Jennifer Rubin

Ezra Klein asks whether Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is scheduled to announce his retirement in a couple of hours, was good for the Democratic Party. Ezra gives Lieberman more positive reviews than most other liberals, concluding, "For the Democrats, Lieberman was the best of friends, and also the worst."

I had a couple thoughts. First, he did run for vice president in 2000 and helped to make it razor-close in Florida. (According to the Democrats, he actually helped Al Gore win the state.) He cast mulitple votes for liberal Supreme Court justices and, of course, delivered on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." And he could have, but did not, abandon the Democrats on cloture on ObamaCare. In a rational world, he would be lionized by the Democratic Party.

But Ezra, I think, asks the wrong question. Lieberman's entire career was not about being good for the party, it was about being true to his own deeply-held principles. Last year, I wrote a lengthy piece on Lieberman, pointing out that it was precisely his refusal to adhere to the party line that made him a villain on the left.

The correct question, I would suggest, is whether Lieberman was good for America. He championed a robust human rights policy, was indefatigable on national security, strove for a bipartisanship on foreign policy (which now actually seems possible), generally favored pro-growth economic policies and was an unabashed patriot.

Liberals loves a "maverick" -- so long as he or she (e.g. Sens. John McCain, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins) is on the other side. But, they tolerate hardly at all those Democrats who don't check the box on every item on the left-wing agenda.

It is a pity. For if there is one lawmaker who put country above party, practiced civility, and represented "no labels," it was Joe Lieberman. He'll be missed -- by the Senate and the country, if not the party that was his home for nearly all of his political career.

Those close to Lieberman tell me he certainly isn't retiring from public life. After his two years in the Senate he will continue to labor on the issues that have been at the center of his agenda. But why wait for the Ryan-Rubio administration to start a new career? Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is leaving soon. Why not offer the job to Lieberman? Obama has essentially adopted the Lieberman position on most national security issues. There are few other figures who would instantly command as Lieberman would the respect of the country and the Senate. And, my how they'd quiver in Tehran.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 19, 2011; 10:05 AM ET
Categories:  Joe Lieberman  
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Comments

What an odd posting. Couldn't the exact same thing be said about conservatives? That they love a maverick, so long as he or she is a Democrat that diverges from party orthodoxy in a way that appears to benefit Republicans?

I mean if Joe Lieberman was a Republican, does anyone think Jennifer would be writing a posting praising his strongly held principles?

I think it would be more likely she'd castigate his breaking with Republican orthodoxy and celebrate his retirement as a way for a "real" Republican to pick up the seat.

Posted by: mustangs79 | January 19, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman was good for Joe Lieberman and Israel...and, oh yes, he was a loyal Democrat, loyal Republican and a true Independent as expedient for Joe.

Posted by: FoundingMother | January 19, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Man, are you a hack.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

What an absurd posting and I agree with Mustang. In addition, who really thinks Lieberman would be able to rein in spending by the military ?

Posted by: Falmouth1 | January 19, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Joe is a big phony.

Posted by: brt30 | January 19, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The real question for Rubin is:

Was he good for Israel? There can be little doubt that this foreign agent was.

Posted by: mitt1968 | January 19, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Man, are you a hack.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2011 11:27 AM

Ditto.

Posted by: schicklegruber | January 19, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Noonoonooo. He is a traitor and a spy and on top of it the biggest phony.

Posted by: lhao333 | January 19, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman's whole career was about what is good for Israel. Rubin, just where do you think intelligent Americans have been for the past 22 years?? You must think that was in Khazarland........

Posted by: usnr02 | January 19, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman is a neocon.

He pushed vociferously for the war on Iraq, even though he knew that ruthless but secular dictator Saddam would never side with Islamists, who despise him more than us.

His first push for the Iraq war came a couple of months after 9/11 in a bid to win the presidential elections of 2004. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45/203.html

He is an opportunist scumbag who has used the United States treasury and blood to serve the Jewish supremacist views of Zionist Israel. Citizenship only to Jews but not to the Palestinians who have been occupied for the past 43 years.

He has opposed the healthcare bill until the last moment, defending the insurance companies and pharmaceutical industry that are parked in his state of Connecticut.

The question is: did Joe Lieberman ever represent the American people or the people of Connecticut? Well, if you count lobbies as people...

Posted by: ArabJuice | January 19, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Rubin is a right-wing conservative hack. No wonder she loves Lieberman.

Posted by: Chagasman | January 19, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Joe wasn't called the Senator from Aetna for nothing. I will never forget him not being quick enough on his feet to respond to Dick Cheney during their debate. Lieberman had made reference to Cheney's wealth, and Cheney shot back he earned it himself without any government assistance or program. I immediately thought the Lieb would counter with as CEO and Chairman of Halliburton, all of Cheney's money had been made off of government contracts, many acquired without competitive bids, because of Cheney's government contacts. It was a government welfare program for the wealthy. But alas, the Lieb wasn't quick enough on his feet to respond.

Posted by: wrw01011 | January 19, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman, like John McCain was a sort of maverick ... sometimes ... when he thought it would get him useful attention (like posing with McCain and worming his way toward the VP spot that was eventually thrown away to an airhead red-neck.
Not too good for the USA, as his chief loyalty is to his ethnic group and it's Nazi-like administration in the Near East.

Posted by: lufrank1 | January 19, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Lieberman's whole career was about what is good for Israel."

You're close. Israel is second in Joe's thoughts. First is "what's good for Joe." He was almost solely responsible for seeing to it that Medicare couldn't be adjusted to cover people down to their mid 50s. Just doing what comes naturally, protecting the insurance industry. He will probably become a lobbyist for them, or a brown noser for AIPAC. He betryed his party in 2008. He can't leave soon enough, so we don't have to hear that whiny scold of a voice of his any longer. CT can now elect a real Democrat.

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

Are you kidding me? That man always acted in his own interest. How do you explain his willingness to join McCain against Obama? Why is he always wheeling and dealing for his support on important issues?

Posted by: fasm7700 | January 19, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Question for the Washington Post. Why is Jennifer Rubin writing for you?

Posted by: wrw01011 | January 19, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Rubin, who paid for this opinion, Joe or Israel, I hope the Washington post did not pay to write this garbage.

It was because of Joe, that democrats lost 2000 election, That is Party betrayal.

It was thanks to Joe, that he supported the Iraq invasion, that is Betrayal for the us, he should be prosecuted for treason.

Posted by: tqmek1 | January 19, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"Question for the Washington Post. Why is Jennifer Rubin writing for you?"

Let me answer for the Post - because it's an easy way to totally discredit so-called "conservative" thought.

Posted by: filmnoia | January 19, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

From the time he was a law student, Joe Lieberman dedicated his life to the realization of a single purpose, namely, realizing his ambition to excel in politics. By sheer survival and number of years in the Senate, Joe has earned top grades for mastering his craft.

Along the way, he has done some good for others. He has also done harm. Joe occupies a universe where it is always be all about Joe. Along with many of his colleagues,Joe will never serve as a paragon of virtue in public office but he has undeniably served the public nonetheless.

Posted by: lch123 | January 19, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Ten years ago, rightwingnuts like Rubin were mocking Joe as Sore Loserman.

Posted by: Observer691 | January 19, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I am not as enthusiastic a supporter of Joe as I used to be. I always thought he was an effective and thoughtful leader of the progressive cause. I had respect for the times that he took the maverick path because I always thought that this was a product of his own sincerely held convictions and that he was doing what he sincerely thought was right. That was the case for his position on Iraq and for his support of McCain. But the bloom came off the rose a bit when he personally scuttled the effort to provide a public option to in the health care bill. I viewed that as just a selfish move to protect his position with the big insurance companies in Hartford. I wish him well, nonetheless and hope that he will continue to play a useful role in public policy making in some capacity.

Posted by: rcairo | January 19, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Lieberman supported the war-mongering ‘Committee on the Present Danger‘ to oppose the anti-war movement and keep the US in Iraq.

He called Israeli’s war on Gaza “self defense" and put Israel's interests before ours.

Most recently he threatened Amazon into ceasing to allow WikiLeaks to be hosted on its servers. He wanted Julian Assange charged with espionage. Our govt said yesterday that he did not "have blood on his hands" but had simply embarrassed the govt.

Posted by: Sion1 | January 19, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

There is good and bad to Senator Lieberman's career. I want to snipe at personality. When he was younger, protecting consumers in Connecticut, he was interesting to hear on TV railing against rate increases and potential pollution. He moved on to the Senate where he was a progressive voice. And he gradually changed. It happens to many of these Congresspeople. They get stale and formulaic. It is easiest to see in those whose viewpoints differ from yours. Then I wonder what is wrong with the voters reelecting them. How do the voters stomach Reid, McConnell, Shelby, Schumer, Pelosi, Sessions, Lieberman just on personality? There are others. Maybe I just do not like to see leaders who are as old as I am.

Posted by: LHO39 | January 19, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is a traitor to Democrats, a petty liar who sold out the Democrats for George Bush.

Mr. "I Stood Up For Hollywood" was a gigantic DRAG on the ticket.He didn't stand up for anything, almost disappeared during the Gore campaign.

He's a war hawk and one of the main reasons Congessional Democrats sucked so bad at supporting their president.

Lieberman is a weasel. Get him the hell out of public office, or at least turn Republican and quit faking it.

Posted by: 2229 | January 19, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman was great on foreign policy and national security, which is why the anti-American left hates him. On domestic policy he was a doctrinaire liberal who was always there when his party needed him. He opposed single-payer but voted for a bill that would get us there circuitously by crippling the free market in health care. I think Joe is a good man, but it's hard to overlook his statism.

Posted by: eoniii | January 19, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman will for all time be remembered as, besides Zell Miller, one of the greatest traitors to the Democratic Party of all time. You have got to be kidding with this ridiculous assertion. Joe Lieberman supported the war in Iraq, campaigned against fellow democrats, and I could go on and on. I will, he is also a small, preening megalomaniac that will not be missed by anyone of significance in the Democratic Party. Good riddance to really bad and stinky rubbish!

Posted by: ruthella10 | January 19, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Fred Hiatt has hired Ms. Rubin to discredit conservative "thought"? Probably a plausible theory for the very existence of Ms. Rubin because she is certainly not a credible political analyst or commentator, as is abundantly on display with this drivel.

Posted by: wiltonsjs | January 19, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman was true to his Zionist principles.

I wonder if he will now being the spokesperson for Summers Eve.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | January 19, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

At his primary victory celebration, Ned Lamont uneasily embraced two invaluable outsiders: "Diamond Merchant" Al Sharpton and "Bloody Shirt" Jesse Jackson.
A well-funded anarcho-Muslim axis and an adoring mainstream media propelled a Manchurian cypher to the White House.
Only the Liebermans, McCains and Rubins can restore the country to those who actually love it.

Posted by: Morgan097 | January 19, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to Joe Lieberman. The Israelis and the insurance lobby will miss him.

Posted by: gposner | January 19, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"My how they'd quiver in Tehran."

Really? Over Joe Lieberman? Or would they call him a "chickenhawk" like many of us do?

Posted by: danw1 | January 19, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Rev. Wright need never lack for a congregation so long as his adherents continue to infest and contaminate the comment sections of the Post.

Posted by: Morgan097 | January 19, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Over at the ObamaCare posting I wondered where all the Liberal partisans were. Now I see they are here; and, my, are they wee-weed up! I did not think it would take long for the Libs to kick their “savior’s” appeal for civility into the ditch, and I was right.

Posted by: nvjma | January 19, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Without Allah, Marx, Said and Chomsky, these displaced '60s wannabes would recognize themselves as forever strangers in a strange land.
Jennifer clearly frightens them.

Posted by: Morgan097 | January 19, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Don't need details - I can tell Lieberman did a number of things I like if the Lefties are wee-wee'd up like this.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 19, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

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