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Lieberman's Loser: 'Bipartisanship'

By Robert Parry  Posted by Amanda Lang (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Sen. Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut not only because of his undying support for the disastrous Iraq War and not just because of his hostility toward Democrats who object to George W. Bush's heavy-handed policies in the Middle East.

Lieberman lost to political newcomer Ned Lamont because Lieberman has become an extreme example of a Democrat who puts getting respect from Washington's pundit class over everything, even over principles and causes that most Democrats hold dear from a functioning democracy to the environment.

Lieberman would rather be welcomed onto Fox News Sunday or banter with radio talk-show host Imus than be known as a hard-nosed fighter against global warming or for electoral reform. In his hunger for the respect of the insider class, he displays the conceit of a man who presents himself as above politics but is not above self-aggrandizement.

Lieberman's post-defeat statement that he will run as an independent because he views Lamont's victory as a turn toward overt partisanship summed up what many rank-and-file Democrats dislike about Lieberman.

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"The old politics of partisan polarization won today," Lieberman told supporters. "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot, I will not let this result stand."

Yet, Lieberman only seems to object to partisanship when it is displayed by Democrats.

GOP Partisanship

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Time and time again, Lieberman has tolerated aggressive partisanship from Republican strategists like Karl Rove or from right-wing pundits such as Sean Hannity even when they denounce Democrats as unpatriotic, un-American or treasonous.

Despite the insults that right-wing pundits have hurled at Democrats and liberals, Lieberman still relishes his appearances on Fox News where he has hailed Hannity as a personal friend and on any number of other national pundit shows.

Lieberman comes across as a politician obsessed with maintaining his place as a respectable "adult" at the Washington insiders' table rather than someone who fights for issues, including the environment, that he professes to hold dear.

Although Bush has undercut environmental protections and has denied the dangers of global warming, Lieberman has basked in his cozy relationship with the President sealed with a peck on the cheek from Bush at the State of the Union speech.

Even in 2000, when Al Gore picked Lieberman as his Democratic running mate, Lieberman resisted playing the traditional hard-hitting role that effective vice-presidential candidates perform.

Rather than blunting attacks on Gore or delivering body blows to Bush, Lieberman kept his eye on maintaining the respect of Washington insiders.

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Many Democrats unhappily recall Lieberman's gentlemanly debate with his Republican rival Dick Cheney. Instead of arguing that it was unthinkable to put ne'er-do-well George W. Bush in the White House, a jovial Lieberman acted like it didn't matter much which presidential candidate won.

Cheney Hypocrisy

Lieberman also didn't follow up on Cheney's obvious debate lie that he had amassed his personal fortune as head of oil-supply giant Halliburton Co. without any help from the government. "The government had absolutely nothing to do with it," Cheney told a smiling Lieberman.

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