Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lieberman The Liberal, A Reconsideration

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post actually ran the numbers and discovered – Surprise! – that Sen. Joe Lieberman is not polluted with conservativism:

“His ideology has not changed one bit, as measured by vote ratings. The American Conservative Union scored his conservatism an eight out of 100 in 2008, the same as Maryland's Ben Cardin (Obama scored a more conservative 17). His lifetime conservative rating is 16, and over the past five years he's actually been a slightly more liberal 8.2. Ratings by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action tell a similar tale, and a University of California at San Diego ranking through the end of July found him to be the 28th most liberal member of the Senate this year, tied with that conservative icon, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.”
It may come as a shock both to the enemies of Lieberman and the friends of Obama – often, they are the same people – to find that Obama’s liberal ratings fall short of Lieberman’s.

In a recent interview, Lieberman brushed aside the notion that he was vengeful after his primary loss to Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont, who this year has ambitions to be governor.

Lamont used the Iraq war as a wedge issue to defeat Lieberman in the primary. The wedge issue in state politics this year revolves around Connecticut’s red budget and its unresolved deficit, growing by the hour. Democrats have favored tax increases and borrowing to patch the hole, while Republicans want to reign in spending. So far, Democrats have successfully defeated Republicans in the ongoing political jihad, and it is doubtful that Lamont would consider using the growing budget deficit as a wedge issue to unseat those in his party who have been clamoring for a rise in the state’s new progressive income tax.

Those who win elections, Lieberman pointed out in a recent interview, generally do not feel vengeful, an assertion that caused the hot heads of those on the far left in his party to erupt in sputtering flames.

Lieberman is – without question – irritating to leftists in his party. But non-activists and independents outside the party system in Connecticut, whose numbers are growing by the hour, seem prepared to take the senator in stride, perhaps because they have gone to school with ex- Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker, Lieberman’s nemesis and, character wise, the Connecticut politician who most resembles him.

A thorn on the side of his party, Weicker – who did lose an election to Lieberman and may be vengeful – once cheerily described himself as “a turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.” He was that indeed. Weicker’s biography -- reviewed by Chris Powell, Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and a columnist for that paper, under the fetching caption “Mr. Bluster Saves The World” -- is titled “Maverick.” Weicker’s former chief aide Tom D’Amore, elevated by then Sen. Weicker to the chairmanship of the state Republican Party, was active as an advisor in Lamont’s campaign, as was Weicker, who encouraged his fellow Greenwich millionaire to primary Lieberman.

The parallels between Weicker and Lieberman are striking. While senator, Weicker repeatedly promised his undying support to Roger Eddy, a Republican who ran against Sen. Chris Dodd, only to turn against Eddy days before the election, throwing his support to Dodd. It was turdy deeds such as this that finally turned the punch bowl against Weicker.

Lieberman’s disagreements with his party turned on questions of war policy, but there is no doubt he is a liberal. Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war appears to have been vindicated by General David Petraeus’ strategy; and following President Obama’s ascendancy as commander-in-chief of the armed forces active in Afghanistan, there are many in the Democratic Party who now hope for a repeat of that success.

What a difference a president makes.

Lamont, the gubernatorial candidate, no doubt will find a convincing rational to lend his support to Obama’s war effort in Afghanistan, a struggle that directly involves Connecticut’s National Guard and its governor. But Lamont’s real struggle, if he wins the governorship, will be with leaders in his state party who would rather be plunged into the fiery pit than disappoint union supporters, as well as those on the left in his party who want to see millionaires in the state hanging on hooks in Hell.

Both in the nation and state, it’s the economy this time, stupid.

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