Monday, February 18, 2008

Joseph Lieberman: Neoconservative Apostate

Joseph Lieberman's a real tough guy. His reelection to the Senate in 2006 defeated antiwar netroots-backed insurgent Ned Lamont, discrediting the notion of anti-Bush online revolution in politics that year.

It turns out the experience was liberating for the Connecticut Senator, a big backer of assumed GOP nominee John McCain.
The New York Times has the story (via Memeorandum):

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, not so long back the Democratic nominee for vice president, has become chief endorser, campaign companion and all-around champion for his buddy Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential standard-bearer.

So inseparable are these men lately that the question often arises: Would Mr. Lieberman consider another tilt at the vice presidential lists, this time on the Republican ticket?

A smile crossed his face like a cloud, and the white-haired senator began waving his hands.

“Oh, no, no,” Mr. Lieberman insisted in an interview in his Capitol hideaway, a nook that he occupies between votes and that once belonged to none other than Mr. McCain. “Been there, done that”....

For the longest time, Mr. Lieberman was a regular Democratic Joe. He clambered up the party ladder, serving as state attorney general before taking a Senate seat in 1988. Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham volunteered in an early campaign while at Yale Law School.

He flapped like a hawk on foreign politics and sang like a moderate bird on domestic affairs. He annoyed the White House when he denounced Mr. Clinton’s conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair, but he voted against impeachment.

In 2000, Al Gore tapped him for the No. 2 slot. Mr. Lieberman did not flash the dirk as often as Gore aides preferred, and he went curiously passive in Florida, when the election hung in the balance. But he worked the trail as if plying the tables at Grossingers, the Catskill resort hotel. “Have you heard our campaign slogan?” he would tell the crowds. “Gore-Lieberman: No Bull, No Pork.”

Later he become a mentor to Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, sharing lunches with the freshman. Their offices are 148 feet apart.

In 2004, Mr. Lieberman alighted in New Hampshire as the presidential candidate with the broadest name recognition. But voters criticized his support for the war in Iraq, and he lectured them, and this did not go well. He finished fifth and soon folded his tent.

Mr. Curry had lunch with Mr. Lieberman in December 2005 and warned about the antiwar sentiment sweeping Connecticut. “This is not an argument over the capital gains tax,” Mr. [Clinton advisor Bill] Curry recalled telling him. “This is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the history of the country.”

Mr. Lieberman, who often praised the defense secretary at the time, Donald Rumseld, shrugged off this advice. He saw the war as an epic struggle against Islamic terrorism; bombing Iran might not be a bad idea, either.

This is the latest steeply graded curve in the long, strange trip that is Mr. Lieberman’s career. Eight years ago he exhorted sweaty ironworkers in Boynton Beach, Fla., to join the Democratic cause. Four years ago he told voters in New Hampshire that President Bush was “a divisive leader.”

But four weeks ago, he returned to Boynton Beach to address 250 Republicans at a country club. This time, he deplored the Democrats’ “visceral” anger at Mr. Bush. He is skipping the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but may turn up at the rostrum of the Republicans’ conclave in Minneapolis.

“I suppose if Senator McCain is going to be nominated, and he asks me, I will go,” Mr. Lieberman said.

I can see Lieberman as secretary of defense in a McCain administration, which would help cement the "Maverick's" neoconservative foreign policy direction.

Still, McCain might not want to campaign too much with Lieberman, who's traditionally liberal on many hot-button issues, like global warming; and don't even think about a McCain-Lieberman ticket...

McCain's had enough problems with the GOP base as it is!