That Lieberman is conning progressive Democrats is paramount in their frustration directed at the man selected as their party's vice presidential candidate in 2000. They overlooked a quirk in Lieberman's cover-all-bases political style because he simultaneously ran for reelection of his senate seat that same election. And won. When Lieberman lost his senate nomination bid in the 2006 Democratic primary, no problem. He won the general as an independent. With zero seniority, the Democratic leadership awarded him chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
We now refer you to an article in The New Yorker written in 2006 about Lieberman's switch to an independent candidate.
Now, in the heat of the health reform debate, Lieberman befuddled his leadership by saying he would join Republicans in a filibuster because he opposes the public option as now written.
Not to worry, countered Alfred E. Neuman (aka) Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, who opined Joe is the least of his worries. Said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) “I do not believe that Joe Lieberman would want to be the one person who caucuses with the Democrats … to bring this bill down. I don’t think he wants to go down in history like that,” he said, noting that he got to keep his gavel “because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus.”
For sheer annoyance of Lieberman's role, we refer you now to this column in Slate.
That was tame compared to Lincoln Mitchell's sour grapes article in the Huffington Post.
The last straw for liberals in the media was when Lieberman told ABC News he probably would be supporting some Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections. "I’m going to call them as I see them,” he said, adding that “sometimes, the better choice is not somebody who’s not a Democrat.”
Double negative or not, Lieberman doesn't carry much weight in my mind. He backed John McCain for president and addressed the Republican National Convention. Lot of good that did.
Critics complain Lieberman is a pawn of the insurance industry which employs 60,000 or more people in his home state of Connecticut. Published reports say the $2.6 million he received from the insurance lobbies since 1989, ranks 10th among contributions to senators. Chris Dodd, his fellow senator from the nutmeg state has received the most but critics worry Lieberman will strip Dodd's title as Sen. Aetna since the former is a strong proponent of the public option.
You owe us, party leaders have said. Screw you, Lieberman might as well responded.
I don't discern Joe Lieberman as an enigma. He's a hawk on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a faithful supporter of Israel, and until the health reform snag on the public option, a dove and reliable advocate for domestic social issues the Democratic Party endorses while at the same time swearing he's a fiscal conservative.
Thing is, Joe is not a Democrat any longer. He's in it for himself. The conjecture he will split and join the Republican Party is total nonsense because 1) it is entrenched as the minority party and 2) he could unlikely be elected as a Republican in his home state which is solid blue.
Long gone is Lieberman's reputation as a voice of reason which he earned during the late 1990s when President Clinton was impeached. Essentially, Lieberman said Clinton was a jerk and desecrated the Oval Office in the Monica Lewinsky farce but refused to support the House findings when the senate voted on the matter and exonerated the president.
Progressives have grown to hate Lieberman because they cannot rely on him in the close vote that will decide the fate of health reform in this session of Congress. They wish for him to be loyal and appreciative for being installed as chairman of a senate committee.
As a result, we see Lieberman joined by Democrats Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu and Republican Olympia Snowe -- all minor players on the national scene -- as the major power brokers in the debate.
It's a role Lieberman cherishes. I'm not so sure about the others.