The oddyssey of Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is a story that will one day be written by some scholar, and what a story it is!
When Joe Lieberman ran for the US Senate in 1988 against liberal Republican Lowell Weicker, the conservative intellectual and founder of the NATIONAL REVIEW, William F. Buckley, Jr.,Â endorsed him and called him his "favorite Democrat".Â That should have been a warning that Joe Lieberman would NEVER be obedient to any party label or loyal to his Senate colleagues.
Lieberman made a record as a man of principle in his first two terms in the Senate, including backing traditional Democratic social and economic ideas, and also having the courage to condemn President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior which led to his impeachment trial.Â Few Democrats were willing to criticize the President’s behavior and what he put the country through in 1998 and 1999, derailing any possibility of real accomplishment of Clinton ideas in his second term.Â
In 2000, Vice President Al Gore thought enough of Joe Lieberman to make him his running mate, and most Democrats were pleased by that move, and one must not forget that the Gore-LiebermanÂ ticket DID win the popular vote, although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the Florida controversy.
Once America was attacked on September 11, Lieberman, like others, rallied to the support of the Bush administration, and no one would have debated that.Â But then he became the Democrat most behind the Iraq War even after revelations that Saddam Hussein had no Weapons of Mass Destruction and that our intelligence was flawed and that Bush went to war without real justification.Â As other Democrats abandoned support of the Bush administration, Lieberman continued to side with Bush and decided he would back the candidacy of John McCain and trash Senator Barack Obama during the election campaign of 2008.Â He had already lost the Democratic nomination and won back his Senate seat as an Independent in 2006, continuing as part of the Democratic caucus, actually allowing the Democrats a bare control of the Senate in the past two years.Â Still basically a Democrat except on the Iraq war and support of John McCain, he angered many who wanted to kick him out of his Homeland Security chairmanship in the Senate in the new 111th Congress.
However, wisely in my opinion, President Elect Obama took the view that he did not want the Democrats in the Senate to employ revenge on Lieberman, and they have just honored his wish by a vote of 42-13, with his only punishment being the loss of a subcommittee chairmanship and a statement condemning his support of the Republican nominee during the election campaign.
One does have to wonder, however, if the result would have been the same, if the rumored possible choice of Lieberman as McCain’s running mate had occurred, instead of McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin.Â In that circumstance, I do not believe the Democrats would have forgiven him and I doubt that I would be so generous on this matter as President Elect Obama has now displayed.Â But as it stands, I am glad Lieberman is still part of the Democratic caucus.
The question now is will Senator Lieberman behave more like a true Democrat, or will he become a problem to the Obama Administration in the next four years?Â This will, indeed, be interesting to watch!