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Joseph Lieberman: Hardly a Conservative?

As Joseph Lieberman’s campaign to gain re-election to the Senate in Connecticut falters, defenders of Lieberman have tried trotting out another line: he’s “hardly a conservative”:

The Reaction:

But Lieberman isn’t some crazy Republican (even on Iraq). He’s no Ted Kennedy, of course, but nor is he anti-liberal. From all the bashing he’s been getting from his critics on the left, you’d think he was Rick Santorum’s Democratic clone. Sure, it would be better, I suppose, to have a more liberal senator from the fairly liberal state of Connecticut, just as Republican senators from extremely conservative states tend to be themselves extremely conservative. If Republicans go extreme for safe seats, shouldn’t Democrats?

Well, let’s see how this plays out. While I do not wish to see values and principles compromised, I consider myself to be a big-tent Democrat. Our party should be big enough and broad enough to allow someone like Lieberman, hardly a conservative, to coexist…

A comment to The Swamp:

In other words, he’s about in the center of the party (hardly a “conservative” Democrat, let alone a “conservative”), and still isn’t Liberal enough for the party wingnuts.

Human Events:

But more kind words for Lieberman come from Sean Hannity these days than Democrats. Lieberman is hardly a Zell Miller Democrat…[right next to an ad for Conservative Match: “I Can’t Date Another Liberal Guy!”]

Cynical Nation:

Joe Lieberman might not be Barbara Boxer, but he’s not exactly Zell Miller either. Much of the campaign against him has been to tie him to Bush’s policies. That’s understandable, as far as it goes, but Lieberman is hardly the biggest pro-Bush Democrat in the Senate.

Just to pick one example, let me ask a question. Is there one, single, substantive issue on which Lieberman sided with Bush that (say) Hillary Clinton didn’t also side with Bush?


As the Hotline On Call blog asked this weekend “Are negative ads what really what Lieberman needs right now? Aren’t voters looking for a reason to come back to Lieberman?”

They are, and they have plenty of reasons to. Joe Lieberman is hardly out of the mainstream of the Democratic party….

Senator Barbara Boxer, quoted by the Conservative Democratic Leadership Council:

“We must focus on the vast number of differences we have with our Republican opponents. While you may not agree with Joe on everything, he is truly a leader on women’s rights, the environment, education, health care and so many other issues that concern our families and define our party.”

Ditka on My DD:

This is getting absurd. Joe Lieberman is not a conservative.

Joe Lieberman: Hardly a conservative? Well, let’s look at his record in this Congress:

  • On May 26, 2006, Senator Lieberman voted to confirm General Michael Hayden’s appointment to his new post as head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Because Sen. Lieberman cast a YES vote, General Hayden proceeded to take the top job at this civilian intelligence agency, handing it over to control by military personnel. Even worse than voting to put a military officer in charge of a civilian spying organization, Senator Lieberman endorsed the precedent of Gen. Hayden’s anti-American surveillance programs. Hayden was in charge of the Bush administration operation of spying for the government into the personal lives of tens of millions of Americans who are innocent of any crime. In falling over for the Bush administration’s whims like a limp noodle in a strong wind, Senator Lieberman failed to fulfill the oath every member of the Senate takes to defend the Constitution, and rewarded George W. Bush for breaking the law.
  • The Patriot Act was created in a time of irrational fear, when an emotionally overwrought senator might be excused for approving a measure that enables the government to access the lives of everyday innocent citizens. But four and a half years later? No, there was no excuse. We are not under unprecedented attack. We suffer much more from automobile accidents than from terrorist plots. So why kill off civil liberties? Why increase the coercive, secret powers of government over the individual? By voting to renew the Patriot Act, Lieberman has played high priest of Homeland Security, sacrificing freedom on the altar of Almighty Fear.
  • In a betrayal of the founding principles of American liberty, Sen. Lieberman voted to pass the Graham Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Amendment inserted the following text into the U.S. Code:

    (1) IN GENERAL – Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: “..(e) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to consider – ..(1) an application for a writ of habeas corpus based on policies established by the Secretary of Defense under section 1071(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 filed on behalf of an alien who is detained by the Secretary of Defense as an enemy combatant, or ..(2) any other action, challenging any aspect of the detention of an alien who is detained by the Secretary of Defense as an enemy combatant”. (2) EFFECTIVE DATE – The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall apply to any application or other action pending on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    The Graham Amendment has three effects:
    1. It removes the power of the courts to hear a writ of habeas corpus from any non-citizen who is held prisoner by the Secretary of Defense. That means that no court will have the power to determine the identities of people being held prisoner by the Secretary of Defense, where they are being held prisoner, and why they are being held prisoner.
    2. It removes the power of the courts to make any ruling on any aspect of any prisoner’s detention. This includes torture.
    3. It makes the changes retroactive. That means that even if torture was done two years ago, the amendment takes away the power of the courts to do anything about it.

    That’s a removal of a page or two from the book of American Liberty. That’s Joe Lieberman, nabbing a page from another bestseller: the Conservative Playbook.

  • You’d think that for a lifetime appointment to the top legal job in the entire nation, there would be higher standards. Apparently not. We learned from the case of John Roberts that all it takes to be Chief Justice is to have friends in high places, along with the patience to sit and smile and say next to nothing while being asked important questions about your qualifications for the job.

    This is especially disturbing given the negative record generated about John Roberts before his confirmation hearing. John Roberts wanted Americans to have to carry around a national ID card, rejected equal rights for women, thought it was a good idea to arrest a 12-year-old girl for eating a single french fry on the DC metro, lied about his membership in the ultra-right Federalist Society, favored the use of government resources to promote Judaism and Christianity to the exclusion of other religious persuasions, railed against Roe v. Wade, argued for the gutting of the Americans with Disabilities Act and tried to restrict the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among many other concerns.

    Does this not paint a picture of a man out of touch with the American mainstream when it comes to liberty? Yes, I’m talking about both John Roberts and Joe Lieberman, who as Senator voted to confirm John Roberts.

  • By voting to approve George W. Bush’s choice of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, Senator Lieberman cast his lot with the conservatives who argued it’s acceptable for the top law enforcement office of the United States to be a man who put his stamp on memos approving the use of torture, and who says the Geneva Conventions don’t have to be followed. In this vote, Senator Lieberman endorsed an anything-goes, deeply amoral vision of America’s future.
  • Joe Lieberman has failed to support S. 14, which would raise the minimum wage from its current 55-year inflation-adjusted low. Again, he’s out of touch with the liberal mainstream, making a conservative decision instead.
  • Joe Lieberman has failed to support S. 317, which would keep government agents from riffling through your bookstore receipts and library records without your permission or knowledge. Siding with the conservatives yet again.
  • To answer Cynical Nation’s challenge about whether there is a difference between Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman, we refer to our quantitative ranking of U.S. Senators on their liberal and conservative voting and cosponsorship records. Hillary Clinton’s liberal score is a 73 out of 100, and her conservative score is a mere 9 out of 100. Not as liberal as she could be, which is why we give her a hard time here. But still, Hillary Clinton is no Joseph Lieberman, who scraped by with a liberal score of only 40 out of 100, and a conservative score of 45 out of 100. Lieberman is not only more conservative that Clinton; he’s more conservative than he is liberal.

Bottom line here, folks: Yes, Joseph Lieberman has a great deal under his belt, even just looking at the most recent Congress, that qualifies him as a conservative policymaker. He’s out of step with liberal ideals, and a deeply blue state like Connecticut is showing through its embrace of alternative Ned Lamont that yes, it really can do much better.

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