Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ode to Joe

I first witnessed the considerable talents and temperament of Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) shortly after he assumed office in January, 1989.  I was attending a hearing on Capitol Hill and was immediately impressed with the thought behind his questions and his understanding of the topic of the hearing.  This is not something you see every day in Washington. Many hearings are nothing but theatrical stage events with our Senators following a predicable script that emphasizes form over substance.  I could immediately see that Joe Lieberman was a man of substance.

I have disagreed with the vast majority of Lieberman's policy views over the years but I never found him disagreeable.  He was a man you had to respect because you knew the positions he took were well considered and reflected both conviction and conscience.  Those traits led to his defeat in the Democratic primary in Connecticut in 2006 even though he was the Vice Presidential nominee of his party in 2000 and voted with Democrats over 90% of the time.  He ran in the General Election as an Independent and was re-elected for his fourth term.  Senator Lieberman announced this week that this will be his final term as he will not be seeking re-election in 2012.

He showed his independent conviction and conscience any number of times. The first prominent Democrat to criticize Bill Clinton for his judgment in his affair with Monica Lewinsky, his support for the Iraq war and a strong U.S-Israel relationship, endorsement of John McCain for President over Barack Obama, his opposition to the public option in the recent health care reform debate and his recent efforts to facilitate prosecution for releases such as the secret cables that WikLeaks put on the internet.

As he stated when he was defeated in the Democratic primary and announced he would run as an Independent,

 "I'm a loyal Democrat, but I have loyalties that are greater than to my party, and that's my loyalty to my state and my country". 

We need more people on both sides of the aisle like that.  Joe Lieberman will be missed.

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