One of the big conversations that have been making the rounds in these past couple of weeks after the elections has been the fate of Joe Lieberman after the victory of the Democrats in the executive branch and the Congress. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006 when he ran as an independent and defeated the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Connecticut. During the 2008 elections, he had spoken in the Republican convention and campaigned for the Republican nominee John McCain. There has been talk since then of stripping Lieberman of the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is responsible for assuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal Government, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Air Land Forces.
I used to be a big supporter of Joe Lieberman because of his strong liberal positions for the environment, for labor and civil rights issues. Over the past few years though, I found myself disagreeing with his support of Bush’s war in Iraq. I had supported Lieberman’s run for the Presidency in 2004 in spite of his position in Iraq, I think because I had hoped that he would see how badly the Iraqi situation was deterioirating since the invasion and would change his mind, as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards had done. Though he hasn’t changed his opinions, I still respect him for being willing to think independently. When I look at Joe Lieberman, I personally think there is a Good Joe Lieberman and a Bad Joe Lieberman.
The Good Joe Lieberman is very liberal in domestic issues. Lieberman has consistently scored over 90% in the National Environmental Scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters for the course of his Senate career, over 95% from NARAL for protecting a women’s right to choose, over 90% from the Human Rights Campaign for his senate career in opposing discrimination against gays and lesbians, a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. In 2005 the liberal activist organization Americans for Democratic Action gave Lieberman a liberal quotient of 80 out of 100 in 2005; a 75 in 2004; a 70 in 2003; an 85 in 2002; and a 95 in 2001. He’s led the effort to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fought attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. He’s fought to protect a woman’s right to choose and he’s fought to protect affirmative action laws. He’s fought for laws to ban discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation. He’s fought to prevent hate crimes against gays, to provide the same benefits for domestic partners that are enjoyed by straight spouses. He’s fought to ensure collective bargaining rights and to safeguard worker’s rights. He’s fought for laws to protect striking workers from losing their jobs to scabs. He voted against Alito for the Supreme Court. On these issues Lieberman has been very good.
The Bad Joe Lieberman is very bad in foreign affair issues and in loyalty to the Democrats. In spite of the fact that the Democrats haven’t stripped him of his chairmanship and have gone out of their way to treat him well, he still went to talk in the Republican convention and attack Obama. His support of the war in Iraq is uncritical of George Bush. He did an article in the New York Times telling Democrats to squash dissent on Bush’s policies in Iraq and to just unquestioningly support him when Bush’s Iraq policies were going so badly and criticism was justified. I think he was insane to suggest that we should invade Iran when our troops are already stretched in both Iraq and Afganistan. On foreign policy he’s been dead wrong.
Joe is not really a Democrat, but he’s too liberal in social issues to be a Republican either. He’s just Joe Lieberman. On domestic issues, we should seem him as an ally. But on foreign policy we should expect him to be opposed to Obama and the Democrats.