Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Shame of Joe Lieberman

Senators Joe Lieberman and Harry Reid met today, to discuss Lieberman's future in the Democratic caucus. With the Democrats presently still short of the magic number of 60 Senators needed to dissolve a filibuster, Lieberman's status could be crucial. After the meeting, Lieberman said he and Reid had had a good discussion, and would be thinking these matters over for a few days.

What a strange journey Joe Lieberman taken. He was Gore's VP candidate in 2000 - an election in which Gore won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote, because the Republican-dominated US Supreme Court stopped the recount in Florida.

Lieberman in 2006 lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, but went on to be reelected to the Senate as an "Independent". He has since the "caucused" with the Democrats, which gave the Democrats a crucial one-vote majority in the Senate - not enough to stop a filibuster, but still a majority.

So far in this story, I still have some praise for Joe Lieberman. I disagreed strongly with his pro-war policy, but I respected his right to speak his mind, and admired his win as an Independent.

But then Lieberman took a turn for the worse.

He endorsed John McCain for President. On the plus side, Lieberman was entitled to stand up for his friend. On the negative side, did Lieberman agree with all of McCain's policies?

Word at first was that Lieberman would be speaking on behalf of McCain's foreign policy.

But Lieberman's speech at the Republican convention went far beyond foreign policy.

And, he irrevocably crossed a line for me when he stood up there on the stage, beaming next to McCain, as the Republican candidate attacked Obama's economic domestic policy.

What happened to Joe Lieberman, the hawkish Democrat, who still professed to support the Democratic progressive economic agenda? Did he want McCain to be President so much, that Lieberman was able to swallow and endorse the Republican lies about Obama's tax policy and all the rest?

I always liked Josiah Royce's Philosophy of Loyalty (1908), and its thesis there's no greater good in the universe than loyalty - but loyalty both to people and to principles. We need both. Lieberman put his loyalty to McCain above his loyalty to his progressive principles. He allowed his loyalty to McCain to betray his principles - either that, or he never had those Democratic principles in the first place, but just pretended he did.

Shame on you, Joe Lieberman. Were it up to me, I would rather see the Democrats have one vote less in the Senate than ever see you counted as part of our party.
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