This may be an odd image of Lieberman, who has, if anything, been known to be too stubborn, and a man who stands by his values and beliefs no matter what. Indeed, that sort of stubborn support for the Iraq War is part of what's landed him in hot water with the liberal wing of his party.
Now, however, with the threat of a well-funded primary challenger on the horizon, Lieberman appears to have shifted course somewhat:
But last week, Lieberman took somewhat sudden, and very conspicuous steps to the left, giving pause to even his most vocal liberal critics.
On Tuesday, Lieberman, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, opened a hearing on Hurricane Katrina by vilifying the Bush White House for allegedly muzzling officials who could tell Congress who knew what about the looming disaster and when.
Then on Thursday, Lieberman announced his opposition to Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, noting that it would be the first of five Supreme Court nominations — three of them by Republican presidents — that he would vote against.
And this week, Lieberman, who has already co-sponsored a lobbying and ethics reform proposal co-authored by McCain and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, plans to get behind a second proposal endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (Straw)
Is this the return of that dreaded syndrome? If so, it may not be working. It's highly debatable whether the senator's most vocal critics have been "given pause" by his recent actions, as the article says. Some aren't buying it, and remain just as steadfast in their distaste for Lieberman and support for Ned Lamont as ever before.
At this point, there's very little Lieberman can do to win over the vast majority of Lamont supporters. A lot of liberals put Lieberman in or close to the same category as they do George W. Bush: he is the enemy, and they will not accept him. Worse, to them, he is a traitor.
This sort of polarized "us or them" thinking has been a fixture of the politics of this decade, largely thanks to the uncompromising policies of the ruling Republican leadership. I tend to think it won't last forever. Good, productive government is built on compromise, not strife. But this is where we are, and where we've been heading since 1964. The days of the "big tent" party may very well be over and done at the national level, at least for now. The widespread, national support for Lamont, an inexperienced candidate who in other years might just have been a blip on the radar, is a significant symptom of this trend.
2006 may be one of those rare years of realignment, in which the political order is turned on its head. If it is, no amount of leftward progress may be able to save Joe Lieberman.
Daly, Matthew. "Approach is Difference in GOP Senate Candidates." Hartford Courant 29 August, 1994.
Straw, Joseph. "Dems cheer Lieberman’s move to left, Bush attacks." New Haven Register 30 January, 2006.