The Bush administration values Joe Lieberman because he has been a crucial ally in efforts to free Enron-style corporate crooks from regulation, transfer wealth to the wealthy, hound gays, trample on the rights of government critics and sacrifice the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis to dishonest, dangerous military adventurism.
Lieberman understands how, in campaigns, you can make people forget all that. You can change the subject by making fun of your opponent for being rich. Then, with millions of dollars from wealthy donors, you can reinvent your record. (Bass)
There's much, much more. One of the principal defenses of Joe Lieberman has been his high ratings from liberal interest groups. Bass dismantles that notion:
Now it's true that Lieberman earns high marks on Democratic interest group "report cards." That's because he plays a shell game in which liberal interest groups are complicit. He gets the "right" mark for voting against Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination, for instance. But he gives the Bush administration the vote it needs to make Alito a judge, by voting to stop a filibuster.
Similarly, he held back on voting for Clarence Thomas's nomination until the first Bush administration saw it had the votes. Then Lieberman could safely vote against Thomas and earn the "right" grade. (Bass)
Bass describes Lieberman as the quintessential Washington politician, who will do anything to stay in power while simultaneously turning his back on the people who put him there. Bass says "Good people do awful things when power tempts." He's right. They do.
The list of charges Bass brings against Lieberman is exhaustive. What's worse is that I'm sure it's only scratching the surface. I know there's more.
Lieberman's greatest strength is that he appears to be a decent, honest, regular guy who fights for what he believes in. He appears to be a man of conscience, a rare statesman in a time of partisanship.
But what if that's not entirely true? What if Bass is right about Lieberman, even only just a little bit? What if Lieberman has become too much a creature of Washington, and too little the New Haven attorney general we sent to the Senate eighteen years ago?
If so, Lieberman has arrived at a very, very dangerous moment. This is one of those rare years when national winds are blowing against incumbents-- all incumbents-- and Connecticut Democrats could find themselves hungry for change for the first time in a generation.
Read the article. Then tell me: is this the end of Joe Lieberman?
Bass, Paul. "Seasonal Memory Lapses." Hartford Courant 4 June, 2006.