Joe Lieberman, belle of the ball?

posted at 1:36 pm on December 14, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When Joe Lieberman ran as an independent in 2006 after losing the primary to Ned Lamont, Republicans flocked to his side to ensure Lieberman’s return to the Senate as the war in Iraq hit a critical stage.  Lieberman’s former party allowed him to retain his standing in the caucus after a bitter debate over punishing him for his defiance, and have been more or less at arm’s length from their 2000 VP nominee since.  Four years later, with Democrats losing ground in the midterms, Lieberman has suddenly become popular again, being wooed from both sides of the aisle in advance of the 2012 elections:

It got so bad two years ago between Joe Lieberman and Senate Democrats that he started skipping weekly caucus lunches because tensions were at a boil.

Now, Lieberman just might be one of the most popular senators in the lunchroom.

Along with other senior Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quietly urging the Connecticut lawmaker to run for a fifth Senate term in 2012 — and to stick with the Democratic side of the aisle.

But Republicans are trying to get Lieberman to sit at their lunch table instead.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he’s engaged in “friendly banter” with Lieberman about joining the Republican Conference and running for the GOP nomination in 2012. Even the conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — who famously said he’d rather have 30 Senate Republicans with pure conservative values than 60 without — said “we’d love to have him.”

Er … why? Other than purely process-oriented outcomes, Lieberman and DeMint seem as far from each other as some of the Republicans DeMint passively opposed in the 2010 primaries for not being conservative enough.  According to the Poole report of contested votes in this session of the Senate, Lieberman is more liberal than Claire McCaskill, James Webb, Bill Nelson and Ben Nelson — all of whom will run for re-election in 2012 as well, and whose seats DeMint will surely want to target with his PAC.  The Poole report for the 110th Session shows much the same result.  He votes more to the Left than Olympia Snowe, who certainly won’t get enthusiastic support from DeMint.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t reasons to like Lieberman.  He’s honest, for one thing, and he understands national security better than almost all of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle.  While his staunch support for the effort in Iraq has passed into the mainstream, that doesn’t mean we won’t face further crises and need a Lieberman among the Democrats to underscore its serious nature and need for firm response.  I’m happy to have Lieberman fill that seat for those reasons if Connecticut can’t elect a Republican.

But let’s not pretend that Lieberman is a Republican in practice.  He’s a moderate Democrat who is socially and fiscally liberal while being a hawk on defense.  The fact that the Democratic Party finds it difficult to tolerate a Lieberman doesn’t make him a Republican.  The nation might be better served to have Lieberman push his party away from its radical-progressive direction and realign itself with the center-right direction of the country, even if that means tougher times for the GOP.

Update: Lieberman was the VP nominee in 2000, not 2004; the “four years later” refers to the 2006 sniping.

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I don’t want Lieberman….

ninjapirate on December 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM

…..And Leeb is loving it.

PappyD61 on December 14, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Lieberman is wrong about just about everything except national security issues, but he is among the few politicians on either side who seems to understand his duties and take them seriously. He calls ’em like he sees ’em. He appears to be an honest and honorable man.

Don’t have to agree with his politics to respect him.

novaculus on December 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM

I don’t want Lieberman….

ninjapirate on December 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM

He doesn’t want you under the tree either.

katy the mean old lady on December 14, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Don’t have to agree with his politics to respect him.

novaculus on December 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Agreed. After all, this is the guy that no less a man than William F. Buckley supported in the service of destroying Lowell Weicker. Plus, he knows how to stand on principle even with the left’s withering attacks.

However, he can’t be allowed to waltz in on the Republican line. I think Linda McMahon should be allowed to have another run at the prize. Think about it. She ran against the most popular politician in the state and held him to about 55% of the vote in Connecticut. That’s no mean feat, and leagues beyond anything Christine O’Donnell managed. If McMahon runs again, she’s got a good chance of winning.

KingGold on December 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

BTW, since he’s pushing DADT… what’s his position on ending the restrictions on women in combat?

ninjapirate on December 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

…while being a hawk on defense.

Not to cast aspersions, but is he really or is the better explanation that the country we’re fighting is a threat to Israel? Would he be as much of a hawk if the target were Venezuela or North Korea? Not saying that’s his only motivation, but I’ve never seen his opinion on these other hot spots.

Kafir on December 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Agreed. I have a lot of respect for Leiberman, but keep him on that side of the aisle.

crazy_legs on December 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM

hyper-partisan. this whole argument is about labels.

Skandia Recluse on December 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Lieberman’s been good on Iraq. Aside from that he’s no better than Schumer or Durbin.

angryed on December 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Not to be picky, but Joe was the 2000 VP candidate, not 2004.

With that said, I like Joe personally. He really seems to be a good guy. Not sure I’d want him in the party though. Other than national security we’d agree on nothing.

He may be better off where he is. One thing about him vs most politicians in general, Joe seems to be someone you can trust.

gary4205 on December 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM

If he wants to side with the Republicans on principle that’s OK – just don’t promise him anything.

SaintGeorgeGentile on December 14, 2010 at 2:06 PM

He’s honest, for one thing

Frankly, that is probably the only thing.

Vashta.Nerada on December 14, 2010 at 2:08 PM

He voted for Obamacare.
He voted for the bank takeover act of 2010 AKA Financial Reform.
He voted for TARP.
He voted for Porkulus.
He voted for every UI extenion.

But hey he’ll make a great addition to the Republican party.

Seriously, WTF is wrong with the RNC leadership?

angryed on December 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I don’t see why Lieberman would return to the Dems with the animosity they’ve shown him or want to change to the Repub side. He’s a smart politician, and I suspect he understands that he would likely lose if he had an R after his name in CT. Since he won as an independent, why change?

Besides, it could provide some really entertaining opportunities for him to make his former party squirm if the GOP takes the senate in 2012. But that is my evil streak showing up.

Marine_Bio on December 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I like Joe Lieberman but he doesn’t belong in the Republican party. It’s a poor fit for him.

Rocks on December 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

If he switched to the GOP, he might lose his seniority. He saw what happened to Arlen Specter. While Lieberman kept his seniority in the Dem caucus, which he’d earned over the years as a Dem, he would have no such similar argument with the GOP.

Despite Reid’s promises to Arlen, Reid could not deliver seniority. He put it to a caucus vote, and they voted it down.

I doubt McConnell would be able to convince the GOP caucus to let Lieberman jump the queue, especially if they take back the Senate. Then seniority can mean being a committee chair, and no GOP senator would give that up for Lieberman.

Wethal on December 14, 2010 at 2:28 PM

His lifetime ACU ratings is Kennedy-esque.

Next question.

Akzed on December 14, 2010 at 2:35 PM

All of the ‘moderate’, or weak members of either party will be empowered in the closely divided Senate we will have next year. Get used to Collins’s baby talk and Snowe’s primping in front of the camera, they will have the rest of the Senate at their feet next year.

slickwillie2001 on December 14, 2010 at 2:44 PM

We don’t need Lieberman any more than we needed Mike Castle.

abobo on December 14, 2010 at 2:45 PM

Lieberman? No.

Liebfraumilch? Yes.

44Magnum on December 14, 2010 at 2:58 PM

It’s long past time when any conservatives should be worried about Joe Liberman. Liberman is a solid liberal who only joins conservatives when it means protecting Israel. The sooner he is gone, the better.

bw222 on December 14, 2010 at 3:16 PM

well, he is one sexy man. /s

mizflame98 on December 14, 2010 at 3:33 PM

hell yeah, let’s all waste love and kisses on another friggin’ liberal that shares almost none of our core ideals. Let’s bring Sanders in too…he’s independent.

search4truth on December 14, 2010 at 3:39 PM

But Republicans are trying to get Lieberman to sit at their lunch table instead.

Which ones? What are their names? Who do we have to primary?

FloatingRock on December 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM

You can call this ass a liberal, a conservative, a Blue Dog, a Democrat, A Republican, or Billy the Exterminator, he is still a f—— liberal, leftist SOB. He’s a POS of the first order.

hip shot on December 14, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Lieberman is, and should remain labelled as, a Democrat. He is an admirable individual, among the most respectable of politicians on either side of the aisle, and mostly shoots straight, even if he’s aiming at the wrong target policy-wise. He’s a WYSIWYG Liberal, something rare in our government.

If CT voters won’t turn right, then keep him where he is rather than risk getting a real Socialist in that seat. But do not ask him to change parties, it would be dishonest. Creating an instant RINO just for the prestige of his seniority would be a horrible mistake.

Freelancer on December 15, 2010 at 2:52 PM