Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is a conundrum. A fiscal and social liberal, the man who was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, angered liberals in Connecticut so much with his support of the Bush administration policies on Iraq, that he lost the Democratic primary for his Senate seat in 2006. Undaunted, he ran as an Independent and won, and has enjoyed the “free life” ever since.
Lieberman, who has served in the U.S. Senate for over 20 years, will retire at the end of his term this year. In an interview two years ago, the senator told CNN that being an Independent “put me in exactly the position I want to be in at this hyper-partisan, non-productive, divisive time in our politics. And it gives me the latitude to try to be a bridge on a lot of different issues, to make things happen. Or sometimes not to be a bridge. Just to speak out and say what I believe – whether it makes everybody in one party or another happy or not.”
The senator’s decision not to commit to one political party has especially annoyed Democrats. Consider that while he led the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, has supported ObamaCare, gun control, abortion rights, and liberal environmental policies, Lieberman also publicly condemned President Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, has been a strong advocate of school choice and a critic of Affirmative Action, has regularly voted against reducing our military and defense budget, and- a real sore spot for Democrats- supported his friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and not Barack Obama, in the 2008 presidential election.
In addition, as Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman, Lieberman reacted strongly two years ago to the Pentagon’s failure to mention “Islamist terrorism” in its report on the Fort Hood massacre. Regarding the omission, the senator said, “I was really startled and really upset that, in the whole report that Secretary West and Admiral Clark did on this Fort Hood massacre, they never used the terms ‘radical Islamist extremism’ or ‘violent Islamic terrorism.’
Part of the senator’s conservative views on national security and defense spending stem from the fact that the defense industry holds a prominent presence in his native state of Connecticut. As he retires, however, it is likely that his unwavering support of a strong national security policy in the Senate will retire with him if a Democratic senator is elected to take his place in November. As might be expected in the blue state of Connecticut, the Democrats running for his seat are similar ideologically to most of the current Democrats in Washington.
During Fox News Channel’s tribute to Sen. Lieberman on Friday evening, Sean Hannity asked the senator’s wife, Hadassah, why her husband has been so well liked. Mrs. Lieberman responded, “Because with Joe, what you see is what you get. He is real.”
Conservatives may not have always agreed with Joe Lieberman. But his “real” is that he respects your views even if he does not hold them himself. He will still be your friend, even if you don’t agree. For him, what is “true” is more important than what is politically expedient. We call this “integrity” and “character,” and Joe Lieberman has both of these qualities.
Thank you, Sen. Lieberman, for being an American patriot, and for your service to the United States of America.