Archive for the ‘Joseph Lieberman’ Category

Welcome Back Joe!

November 19, 2008

Back in July I met with derision when I made a proposal in my then-New York Sun column.

One prominent Democrat, however, can save Mr. Lieberman — Barack Obama. Since emerging onto the national scene four years ago, Senator Obama has emphasized his ability to unite Americans across the political spectrum.

If Mr. Obama wants to demonstrate his willingness to change the way Washington does business and to overcome “the politics of division and distraction” — both of which he has vowed repeatedly — he should offer Mr. Lieberman a political pardon and ask Mr. Reid to allow Mr. Lieberman to keep his chairmanship, if Mr. Obama is elected president. While a new president lacks the power to interfere in an internal senate matter, Mr. Obama’s voice would carry weight with the senate leadership.

With the approach of the Republican parley in Minnesota in early September, the issue will ripen. Instead of speaking in favor of purging Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Obama could offer to reserve a decision on the matter until after the election. Then, if elected, he could urge Mr. Reid to keep Mr. Lieberman within the ranks.

Such magnanimity would not reflect the usual political rules of either Washington or Chicago, Mr. Obama’s hometown, where the typical approach to fallen foes is to cut their legs off and bury them so far under that they are silenced permanently. Mr. Lieberman is, after all, campaigning on behalf of Mr. McCain, often at the candidate’s side. And, according to published reports, Mr. Obama, confronted Mr. Lieberman on the floor of the senate after the Connecticut senator participated in a conference call criticizing Mr. Obama’s foreign policy positions. Among Mr. Obama’s concerns, according to Newsweek, was Mr. Lieberman’s failure to successfully rebut the false allegation that he is a Muslim.

As unlikely as an act of forgiveness might seem now, it would be in keeping with the spirit of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric. “There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq,” Mr. Obama said during his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Permitting Mr. Lieberman, the party’s 2000 vice presidential candidate, to remain within the Democratic caucus would display Mr. Obama’s commitment to those very words. Mr. Lieberman’s issues with his fellow Democrats, after all, began when his strong support of the Iraq War prompted a primary challenge from an anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont.

Few readers liked this column. Progressive Democrats, furious at Lieberman for his position on the Iraq War and support of McCain, frothed at the idea of welcoming Lieberman back. Conservatives, noting that Lieberman was backing McCain, dismissed the thought that Lieberman would need a post-McCain strategy.

Well, now, at Barack Obama’s urging, the Senate Democrats have done exactly what I suggested. John Kerry was particularly magnanimous on the issue. “”President-elect Obama asked for forgiveness for Sen. Lieberman, the caucus has made a decision to censure his comments and strip of his membership on the EPW Committee, and it’s time to move on,” Kerry’s spokesperson, Brigid O’Rourke, told PolitickerMa.

The comments of both Kerry and Lieberman suggest the leniency came, exactly as I suggested, from President-Elect Obama himself. Here’s what the Globe reports about it: “Lieberman partly credited Obama, who has preached unity and bipartisanship since the election, for the lighter penalty. Lieberman also publicly thanked a handful of senators for their support, including Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who said later that John F. Kerry of Massachusetts also spoke on Lieberman’s behalf.”

Advertisements

Obama and Lieberman

July 22, 2008

I make a proposal in my New York Sun column today. That’s, if elected, Barack Obama should grant a political pardon to Joe Lieberman, who Democrats view is an apostate for his support of John McCain and hawkish policies.

“If Mr. Obama wants to demonstrate his willingness to change the way Washington does business and to overcome ‘the politics of division and distraction’ — both of which he has vowed repeatedly — he should offer Mr. Lieberman a political pardon and ask Mr. Reid to allow Mr. Lieberman to keep his chairmanship, if Mr. Obama is elected president. While a new president lacks the power to interfere in an internal senate matter, Mr. Obama’s voice would carry weight with the senate leadership.

With the approach of the Republican parley in Minnesota in early September, the issue will ripen. Instead of speaking in favor of purging Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Obama could offer to reserve a decision on the matter until after the election. Then, if elected, he could urge Mr. Reid to keep Mr. Lieberman within the ranks.”

Lieberman Endorses McCain

December 17, 2007

Here’s my report.

Dartmouth Democratic Debate: Hillary Clinton and Iran

September 27, 2007

I thought Hillary Clinton did a terrific job standing up to Tim Russert and the other presidential candidates on the issue of Iran. She gave a clear, declarative answer as to why she supported Joseph Lieberman’s resolution calling the Islamic Revolutionary Guard in Iran a terrorist group. This showed great courage coming as it did after as Mike Gravel tried to set it up with the Lieberman conspiracy talk. Given the climate on the Left these days, I’m frankly amazed that she would so calmly tick off the factors that make the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.

At the same time, once again, I am entirely unimpressed with Obama’s style and “substance.” His answers are halting and haughty at the same time. It’s almost infuriating.

I don’t agree with Chris Dodd on much of this, but his performance is solid as usual. I felt, as did Joe Biden, that Russert is giving the Delaware senator short shrift.

Bloomberg for President?

June 22, 2007

Two Great Mayors

Michael Bloomberg has garnered reams of press after having his name floated as a potential independent presidential candidate. Bloomberg, reportedly, is willing to spend $500 million on a presidential race. While money solves a lot of problems, it doesn’t do everything for the New York mayor. (With that said, it’s better to have $500 million, than not.) In my piece today in the New York Sun, I report on the myriad of practical difficulties that lie ahead of Bloomberg — despite the fact that he lacks what I call “the whiff of the weird” that usually accompanies third party candidates.

“Mr. Bloomberg’s favor has plenty of money to throw at this chore, but that’s only part of the problem. He must find competent individuals who are unaffiliated with either of the major parties and who can devote time, energy, and passion to him. Independent candidacies are often the refuge of the extreme activist, the fringe enthusiast, and the agitator.

“It’s organization, it’s organization, it’s organization,” the co-founder of the New York State Independence Party and an expert in ballot access around the country, Laureen Oliver, says. Ms. Oliver, who worked on the gubernatorial campaigns of Thomas Golisano in New York and Kinky Friedman in Texas, advised Mr. Bloomberg to hire a top national election attorney, who, in turn, could supervise 50 attorneys to navigate the labyrinthine set of state election laws.”

Michael Goldman, the senior consultant of the Government Insight Group and a former host on Bloomberg Radio, bemoans the potential impact of a Bloomberg candidacy on Democrats. (Goldman is supporting John Edwards.) “If he gets in, he badly hurts the Democrats,” Goldman tells Gitell.com. “The social conservatives never would support him.”

Goldman also makes another point about Bloomberg. Like Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut in 2004, Bloomberg would be a Jewish presidential candidate. While I think the series of issues surrounding the War on Terror complicates a Jewish candidacy, particularly one by a Jewish media mogul!, it is important to point out that there are big differences between Bloomberg, a secular Jew, and Lieberman, Sabbath-observant. I heard Benjamin Netanyahu, citing Mitt Romney’s status a Mormon, quoted on WTKK radio saying that America would welcome candidates of a variety of religious backgrounds. (Having the okay of the Israeli prime minister is probably as harmful as helpful these days.)

I’d say Bloomberg’s organizational difficulties far outweigh the reigious issues.

Joe Lieberman’s War

June 12, 2007

Disagree with Joe Lieberman’s suggestion of military action versus Iran, if you want. Argue that America doesn’t have the military capacity to start another front right now. But let’s keep it in perspective shall we. Lieberman’s reacting to an Iran that has embarked on military adventurism across the Middle East.

I write in The New York Sun: “Iran’s role in training fighters in Iraq, Iran’s aiding Hezbollah, which is destabilizing Lebanon and threatening Israel, Hamas battling Fatah and threatening Israeli areas bordering Gaza. To these can be added recent reports that NATO forces have detected Iranians bringing explosive materials into Afghanistan. All of these actions are not equivalent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor yet, perhaps, but, taken together, they suggest a regional effort by Iran to destabilize the Middle East.”

Many commentators — including one in an e-mail comment read last night on CNN — have suggested Lieberman is merely carrying water for Israel. Drudge even ran a photo of Lieberman with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to illustrate the Iran story. We’re back to the “double loyalty” canard. I suppose one might argue that a nuclear Iran dominant from Gaza to Afghanistan only affects Israel — not America. Perhaps this is the foreign policy reordering that such bright lights as Steve Walt are advocating for — one that has us behaving far more like France or Germany than America. That would mean we’d also have to sell out oil-producing Sunni countries such as Dubai and Kuwait, who depend on us to keep Iran away from them.

Lieberman’s raising a difficult option to a tough problem. I thought that was what members of the U.S. Senate were supposed to do.