Global, Politics

The "Betrayal" of Joe Lieberman

In the Connecticut Democratic Primary, Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman. Naturally, most national Democratic leaders responded by giving their support to Lamont. That’s how democracy works. One would think, after Lieberman ran and won as an independent, he might show a little humility for upending the political process and defying the wishes of his Democratic base. One might expect, perhaps, an apology for treating the Democratic party like a dog on the side of the road.
According to The New York Times, that’s not exactly what is happening.
On Election Night, his son Matthew referred to Democratic leaders as “happy to leave my dad by the side of the road.”
Really? It was Joe who was left by the side of the road?
But there’s more.

People close to [Joe Lieberman] say he remains miffed, if not bitter, about what he considers the betrayal of allies who supported an unknown, untested and unfamiliar candidate.
… Mr. Lieberman has suggested he has felt especially wounded by Mr. Dodd, Connecticut’s senior senator, with whom he had shared a close bond since arriving in the Senate in 1989. Mr. Dodd had supported Mr. Lieberman in the primary, but endorsed Mr. Lamont after he won. Mr. Dodd’s appearance with Mr. Lamont at a Democratic “unity” rally and in a campaign commercial infuriated Mr. Lieberman, friends said.
… Earlier in the day, [Mr. Dodd] attended a Capitol Hill news conference that drew every Democrat in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation except Mr. Lieberman.
… Mr. Lieberman classifies himself as an “independent Democrat” and has said that recent events left him feeling “liberated” and “unshackled,” not exactly reassuring words to Democrats.
… Mr. Lieberman restated that it was possible he could join Senate Republicans, but he added, “I’m not going to threaten on every issue to leave the caucus.”
Clearly, friends say, he is relishing his sudden ascent from Democratic reject in Connecticut to Senate kingmaker in Washington. “He is just sitting there in the catbird seat, and it must be delicious for him,” Ms. Collins said.

So it wasn’t Lieberman who betrayed his party after he lost the primary, but his party that betrayed Lieberman for not, essentially, cancelling the wishes of the primary voters. And now, for the next two years, Democrats will have to tiptoe around Jumpin’ Joe, lest he switches sides. Such humility in the most nationally recognized model of traditional Jewish ethics.
Full story.

16 thoughts on “The "Betrayal" of Joe Lieberman

  1. So in Lieberman’s world, loyalty is due to political allies, and not to the will of the voters? Disgusting.
    On the brighter side, as Kos points out, Lieberman can do what he wants for the next 2 years, but his power ends when the Democrats pick up a larger majority in 2008. (The 2008 Senate election is 6 years after 2002, when the Republicans won every close race, so the Democrats have nowhere to go but up with this class of senators.)

  2. lol!! I love it, you guys actually think your not only retaining control in 2008 but getting more seats? lol! How cute! Your adorable! (or delirious) As for Lieberman, it was the Democratic party that did betray the successful and popular incumbent. They didn’t support their own nomination for Vice President for crying out loud. He didn’t do anything that wasn’t allowed in the constitution. In fact it was “the voters” who voted for him again that allowed him to won. If it was truly the will of the people as suggested in the primaries to elect ned lamont then those same people plus would have voted for him again now. But that’s not how elections work, if they did, Howard Dean would be President. (ich)

  3. The tone of this post is really bugging me. Joe won a race because CT wanted him to be their senator. He knew that and continued to run after the primaries. The primary process simply didn’t serve the people of CT well enough this go around– otherwise Lamont would be on his way to Washington.
    Other dems should’ve been able to figure that out as well, and I think it’s only human that Joe’s feelings are a bit hurt. I seriously doubt he’s going to abuse his swing vote– but no, he is under no obligation to show “humility” right now and certainly not to deliver an apology for staying in the race when clearly that’s what his constitutents wanted. His only obligation is to do his job for CT.
    Democracy “works” when the candidate that the people want in office ends up in office. So I thik democracy “worked” pretty darn well in CT this year. Joe didn’t “upend” the process, he used it to make sure CT voters got what they really wanted– a centrist, not an inexperienced left winger. Sour Grapes!

  4. i don’t know — at the very least, it shows how the two-party scheme has its flaws, and senators are being weighed by who they provide loyalty to, as opposed to the job they do and how many people voted for them.
    (i’ve got my own gripes, such as how in PA we kicked out rick “santorum” santorum, but we had to vote in an anti-choice, right-wing-christian-pandering democrat to do it, while i would’ve rather voted for the more moderate (yes, really) green party cantidate.)
    but the truth is — and i know this is going to be unpopular in jewschool-land — lieberman’s part of a small contingent, like arlen specter and a few other old-school congressfolks, who don’t pander to party lines and instead vote on what they believe in, irregardless of whether it’s “liberal” or “conservative.”
    the voting process is kind of designed to weed that out — consider the lieberman election, where a party-lines democrat could win the primary but lose the popular vote. but, dammit, i’d rather have someone in office who votes with what s/he believes to be right, even if it sometimes runs counter to the party line. it’s less dependable, and less effective for a solid democratic or republican “bloc,” but it might (please G-d please) make for a more honest Congress.

  5. Lieberman can do what he wants, but the Democratic establishment should have thrown him overboard more forcefully after he lost the primary. Progressive voters have made an implicit agreement with the Democratic party: we will enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee in the general election no matter how much we disagree with his/her politics (e.g. Harold Ford, Bob Casey, etc.), for the sake of a Democratic majority. In return, we (the voters) get to choose the nominee in the primary, with the expectation that all who are committed to a Democratic majority (which should include all Democratic senators) will support the nominee. (Under this agreement, the primary is the only time when we express opinions about the merits of the individual candidates.) The Democratic senators who overtly or tacitly supported Lieberman in the general election violated their side of the agreement. They’re the ones who are disloyal, not the ones who respected the will of the primary voters.

  6. Matthue,
    If what Lieberman “believes in” includes whatever the drug companies dictate, then he is indeed a man of principle.

    From his office to his bedroom, Lieberman was totally surrounded by current and former employees of Big Pharma. … Lieberman still looks like a politician wholly owned by one of the nation’s most troublesome special interests.

  7. “The Democratic senators who overtly or tacitly supported Lieberman in the general election violated their side of the agreement. They’re the ones who are disloyal, not the ones who respected the will of the primary voters. ”
    Disloyal? To the ‘Progressives’, maybe, if we ever assumed they owed the ‘Progressives’ anything in the first place. On the other hand, we could just as easily say that these senators were being loyal to the older, center-left/ New Deal liberal vision of the Democratic party, or loyal to the Democratic party itself in that they felt that the long-term interests of the party were endangered by the rise of the Lamont crowd.

  8. matthue: gotta disagree, big time. He spent the whole post primary campaign running away from his own record and flat out lying to Connecticut voters about it. Lieberman doesn’t vote what he thinks is right, he votes whatever is good for him. I wish we were in a time of good bi-partisanship, but that time passed during the Clinton years. The Republican led Congress has so bitterly faught against any working together, and Bush has so smeared anyone who disagrees with him as a terrorist that it cost Chafee, Bass, and many other moderate northeast republicans their jobs.
    As for clueless Joe, I give him six months before he switches party affiliation.
    Dude: Laugh it up. Then, take a look at the map and see what pickups are available for Dems next year. This was, simply, a year Dems shouldn’t have won, but if taking the senate was an inside straight this year, in 08 it’ll be drawing to a full house for four of a kind.
    J: They were disloyal to the will of the voters. And isn’t that who’s boss? i thought that was the whole point of this democracy thing.
    EV: thanks for putting this up. you beat me to it.

  9. Ruby K:
    The only loyalty they owed the primary voters was to field Lamont as the Democratic candidate. Nothing more. The “will” of the voters has no binding status, only the result of the voting (which is what makes this a Republic – voters decide which candidates win; the winners are supposed to do what they think is best, whether or not the voters agree).
    All the 2008 speculation is silly. The political landscape is going to change several times between now and then.

  10. “One might expect, perhaps, an apology for treating the Democratic party like a dog on the side of the road.”
    No, the Democratic Party owes Joe Lieberman an apology and, if he were to shift a bit to the right on things like gun control, we’d be glad to have him in the Republican Party (like Arlen Specter)., which is really the organization that elected Lamont in the primary, has no rights or status that any decent and patriotic American is obliged to respect. and its candidates are not worthy of the respect that a lady or gentleman of breeding shows to a pet or a domestic animal. The same for anyone like Lamont who consorts with a racist and anti-Semite like Al Sharpton. Such an individual places himself beyond the pale of rational political discourse and should be treated with nothing but the utmost contempt. Far from stepping aside in deference to the primary results, Lieberman would have been within his rights to state openly that his independent candidacy was a willful slap in’s face. Of course, I regard the voters who supported Lamont in the primary as unworthy of respect as well, for the same reason.
    Re: “The Democratic senators who overtly or tacitly supported Lieberman in the general election violated their side of the agreement.” It was Bob Casey’s support of Lamont that destroyed my respect for Bob Casey, whom I was actually thinking of supporting before I learned that he himself had taken MoveOn’s endorsement. I remember almost hitting the roof when I opened the Wall Street Journal to see that Casey was backing Lamont instead of Lieberman.

  11. Like it or not, the voters have spoken.
    That IS democracy, not being forced to choose one of two option, neither of which you really like. There’s nothing wrong with running as an Independent. I think more people would vote if they felt there was more of a choice.

  12. Granted, 2008 is a long way off, but it’s not going too far out to say that Dems aren’t going to get the GA seat back, will be hard pressed to retain LA and SD and maybe AR. They ought to have a good shot at MN and possibly NH. 2008 may very well bring no net change, or leave us at 50-50.
    In other words, I would not count on Joe losing the leverage that a 51-49 Senate–and an overwhelmingly Rep/ind constituency in this election–will give him for the next two years.
    As for choice (as raised by the comment just above mine), I am all for it, but preferably more partisan choices. When you have partisan nomination processes, and then allow the “sore loser” to run as an independent, that seems to this political scientist pretty close to the worst of both worlds, notwithstanding that democracy “worked” in the sense that the candidate favored by the median voter in CT in 2006 indeed won.

  13. On the other hand, we could just as easily say that these senators were being loyal to the older, center-left/ New Deal liberal vision of the Democratic party,
    J, which New Deal are you talking about? If you’re talking about the oneforged by FDR that helped bring the US out of the Depression, then surely you don’t really think that Joe Lieberman, a welfare-cutting “New Democrat,” is a supporter of it, do you?

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