Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lodestar Lieberman

In moments of crisis, Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times yesterday, "I generally recommend looking to see where Joe Lieberman is going. Then head the other way."

Such wrong-way reliability, which has made Lieberman a lodestar for the anxious and confused, delivers two gems today--on the Ft. Hood massacre and health care reform.

As investigators conclude that the shooting spree "was not part of a terrorist plot," he announces that, as Senate Homeland Security chairman, he plans to launch a probe into the motives behind "the worst terrorist attack since 9/11."

In a twofer on Fox News, the Independent Senator from Rupert Murdoch also renews his pledge to launch a filibuster against the public option in health care "put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance."

That would never do for a statesman whose base includes the nation's largest insurance companies, which contribute to his campaigns and employ his constituents.

In moments of uncertainty, I turn back to Joan Didion's assessment in 2004:

"Senator Lieberman, who had come to the nation's attention as the hedge player who had previously seized center stage by managing both to denounce the president [Bill Clinton] for 'disgraceful' and 'immoral' behavior and to vote against his conviction (similarly, he had in 1991 both voiced support for and voted against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas) was not, except to the press, an immediately engaging personality...

"His speech patterns, grounded in the burdens he bore for the rest of us and the personal rewards he had received from God for bearing it, tended to self-congratulation."

But such comfort comes at a price. As convinced as I am by Al Gore's warnings about global warming, it gives me pause to remember that, in Gore's judgment nine years ago, Joe Lieberman was the best person in the country to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

Update: After a meeting with Israel's prime minister this week, President Obama is reported to have quipped to the delegations, "So, we’ve decided that we are going to trade our Lieberman for their Lieberman," referring to the Senator and the hard-line Israeli foreign minister. Sold.


Fuzzy Slippers said...

hee! this is great! I'm not a huge fan of Lieberman, either, but then, I think Gore's full of . . . well, you know.

Holte Ender said...

Lieberman is becoming a parody of himself, a gift so few politicians manage to bestow upon themselves in these partisan times. He probably argues with himself in front of the mirror.