Lieberman: Democrats Protectionist, Isolationist, Hyperpartisan

“Independent Democrat” Joe Lieberman says he hasn’t left the Democratic Party — they’ve left him.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, said it is not the same party that made him its vice presidential candidate in 2000. “It’s not the Bill Clinton-Al Gore party, which was strong internationalists, strong on defense, pro-trade, pro-reform in our domestic government,” he said. “It’s been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist, and very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me.”

[…]

[John] McCain, he said, is “a reformer, somebody who understands ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country and remembers the other part of the Kennedy inaugural, which said that we will bear any burden, pay any price to assure the survival and sustenance of liberty. That’s John McCain.”

Here’s the video:

Michael Scherer notes the similarities between Lieberman’s statement and Zell Miller’s address at 2004 the Republican Convention. Steve Benen agrees:

I’ve been reluctant to draw the Lieberman-Miller parallel, in large part because Miller voted with Republicans on everything, whereas Lieberman still votes with Dems on most domestic policy issues. But Scherer’s right; Lieberman’s denunciation of the Democratic Party is, at a minimum, Miller-esque, and should disqualify Lieberman from holding any kind of seniority within the caucus.

Of course, stripping him of his seniority would give him a legitimate reason to break his campaign pledge that he’d caucus with the Democrats. If Lieberman switched sides, the Republicans would control the Senate via Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking ability.

As to Lieberman’s charges themselves, they’re a little strained. Certainly, neither party has a monopoly on being hyperpartisan. The Democrats have been protectionist for years; Clinton and Gore were outliers and NAFTA was passed mostly on the strength of Republican support. And the Democrats aren’t isolationists. They want to intervene in Darfur and are more activist than most Republicans on global warming, Tibet, and other international issues. They just want out of Iraq.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, General, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    As to Lieberman’s charges themselves, they’re a little strained. Certainly, neither party has a monopoly on being hyperpartisan.

    Perhaps, but then again, they like to insinuate they’re ‘open minded’… and the degree of hyper partisanship they’ve been displaying since 2000 or so, seems to fly in the face of that.

    Ya know, I’d like to see a study at some point; How many, I wonder, of the supposed ‘middle’, which we have for a long time identified as actually being leftist, are in reality, Democrats who have been disaffected as Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman have been?

    I dare to submit to you that with things as near to 50/50 as they are, the difference in this election is going to come down to such disaffected Democrats… people who have basicaly been run out of the Democrat party. People like Lieberman, and those who voted for him in the last cycle.

    And I note with no small amusment, that this is a willing disaffection, on the aprt of Howard Dean and the national comittee, given their lean toward Obama. I mean, it pains me to suggest that Hillary Clinton of the two is the more centerist, but there it is.




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  2. Barry says:

    What’s he going to say? “When I was nominated for VP back in ’00, many Democrats didn’t like me, and thought that I was a bad choice. I’ve worked very hard for the past seven years to prove those people to be right.”




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  3. Michael says:

    It’s been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist, and very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me.

    Nobody’s “taken over” the democratic party. There are small groups within the party that are pushing a more partisan agenda than Lieberman likes, pushing for an end to the Iraq war, etc. But there are also factions who support the Iraq war, support things like warrant less wiretapping, extending the Bush tax cuts, etc.

    The Democratic party has by no means a unified voice in this congress. Lieberman just can’t let any opportunity to bad-mouth his former party go by. He’s trying desperately to be the kind of “Maverick” the press thinks McCain is, but there is no “party line” he can take an ethical stand against, so he just succumbs to whining about them.




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  4. Michael says:

    He’s trying desperately to be the kind of “Maverick” the press thinks McCain is, but there is no “party line” he can take an ethical stand against, so he just succumbs to whining about them.

    Which is, I think, why Lieberman hasn’t jumped ship completely and become a Republican, because then his whining would be “Partisan”, and not “Maverick”.




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  5. Bithead says:

    But there are also factions who support the Iraq war, support things like warrant less wiretapping, extending the Bush tax cuts, etc.

    Bloody WHERE?




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  6. Michael says:

    Browse on over to DKos, he’s always pointing out the Dems who are on the other side of those issues.

    The wiretapping bills alone have spawned dozens of threads listing democrats who were trying to pass retroactive immunity.




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  7. I’m not even sure the Democrats really want out of Iraq as much as they want to be against whatever Bush is for.




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  8. Bithead says:

    Browse on over to DKos, he’s always pointing out the Dems who are on the other side of those issues.

    And going to great lengths to try and place them outside the Democrat mainstream. Ala Lieberman.

    Oh, and Charles, that’s exactly the situation.




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  9. Michael says:

    And going to great lengths to try and place them outside the Democrat mainstream. Ala Lieberman.

    Kos went to great lengths, yes, but Lieberman had “establishment” support at that time, and much of that same establishment is still in the Democratic party. For Lieberman to come out now and say the party left him is ridiculous, because the party hasn’t changed that much in 8 years.




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  10. Steve Plunk says:

    The perception of the party has changed in the last few years. From groups like Code Pink, the Kossacks, Moveon.org, the party has gained a new identity. Whether or not these groups have actual influence is immaterial to the perception they do.

    These groups are the new face of the Democratic party like it or not.




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  11. Clovis says:

    They want to intervene in Darfur

    I’m not so sure about that. They like to talk about it though. Maybe they can fix it in the first hundred hours, days, or working days.




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  12. Bithead says:

    but Lieberman had “establishment” support at that time

    But not since MoveOn…




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  13. Michael says:

    The perception of the party has changed in the last few years. From groups like Code Pink, the Kossacks, Moveon.org, the party has gained a new identity. Whether or not these groups have actual influence is immaterial to the perception they do.

    Only it isn’t a new identity, those factions have existed within the Democratic party since well before the 2000 elections. The only difference is that the rest of the party isn’t ignoring them anymore, and Joe Lieberman doesn’t like that.

    But not since MoveOn…

    MoveOn isn’t establishment, it’s part of a progressive movement within the party demographic, but it is usually at odds with the party leadership.




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  14. Barry says:

    “Kos went to great lengths, yes, but Lieberman had “establishment” support at that time, and much of that same establishment is still in the Democratic party. For Lieberman to come out now and say the party left him is ridiculous, because the party hasn’t changed that much in 8 years.”

    Posted by Michael

    Lieberman had ‘establishment’ DLC support in 2006, when running as an independent against a democratic candidate. If that counts as ‘the party left me’, then we should just change the name of our language from English to Newspeak.




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