all other allegiances. Afraid that Connecticut's Democratic voters will
reject him in the primary, he's now hedging his bets by planning to run as
an independent if he loses. "I have loyalties that are greater than those to
my party," he says, and tries to make this sound noble.
Lieberman made a similar choice in the 2000 election. He hedged his bets
then as well, by running for reelection as Connecticut Senator while also
running for Vice President. It sent a great message of confidence for the
ticket he was part of, but worse yet, had Gore won (as he would have without
the Florida machinations), Lieberman would have had to resign his Senate
seat, and be replaced by a Republican appointed by Republican Governor John
Rowland. Given that the Senate ended up split 50/50 (until Senator Jeffords
left the Republican party), this would have brought about a major political
loss. But none of that mattered to Joe. His prime loyalty has always been to
himself, from the first time he took money from William F. Buckley to run
against moderate Republican Lowell Weickert.
Republican as he defends one after another of the administration's
positions. There's no clean solution to their disaster in Iraq. But while we
can argue different approaches for withdrawal, Lieberman not only backed the
war initially, but also continues to give Bush political cover on it,
denying the magnitude of the disaster and attacking the patriotism and
judgment of any who'd question our occupation.
Lieberman's self-created role as political enforcer has a long heritage.
Eleven years ago, Lieberman joined Lynne Cheney in co-founding the American
Council of Trustees and Alumni. Their purpose was to attack dissident
educators, setting themselves up as cultural commissars who took on the
right to decide what was and wasn't appropriate patriotism when educators
explored key public issues. Their approach would have fit well in Communist
East Germany, but seemed strangely out of place in a democracy, and
Lieberman's never disassociated himself from it.
Of course Bush might not be even president had Lieberman not hamstrung Gore
by arguing against demanding a full recount of the Florida ballots. Or if
he'd held Dick Cheney even slightly accountable in their Vice Presidential
debate for stands like opposing the freeing of Nelson Mandela from a South
African prison, instead of cozying up to him in a fawning love fest. Maybe
it was predictable that he'd support Bush's regressive energy bill, tax
plans, and judicial nominations.
Lieberman has already gotten endorsement from Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter
and financial backing from major Republican lobbyists. He's already
suggested that hospitals should have the right to refuse emergency
contraception to rape victims, and force them to go elsewhere in the middle
of the night. Maybe he should just drop the pretense and run as a
Bush-Cheney Republican without any further evasions.
Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A
Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, winner of the 2005 Nautilus Award
for the best book on social change, and Soul of a Citizen See