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Lieberman Will Not Be Missed

Dana Milbank writes an awful tribute to Joe Lieberman to mark the senator’s retirement:

Six years later, he was drummed out of his party because of his willingness to embrace Republicans (he received a kiss from George W. Bush after a State of the Union address).

This isn’t what happened. Lieberman was defeated in a primary election because of his continued willingness to back a disastrous war and to embrace the incompetent president who launched it. If that weren’t enough, Lieberman then began hectoring members of his own party because they disagreed with his pro-war position, and started posing as one of the last heirs of FDR and Truman. While doing all of this, Lieberman was characteristically sanctimonious and condescending as he dismissed the opinions of the majority of his party on the war, and then feigned shock that most Democrats didn’t want him representing them any longer. Lieberman wasn’t punished at the polls for bipartisanship as such. He was rejected because he took a position on a major issue that most Democrats in his state rightly considered intolerable, and because he showed contempt for Democrats opposed to the war.

Instead of accepting his primary defeat with some measure of grace or humility, he then insisted on running against his party’s nominee. He managed to win the general election mostly because the other party’s nominee was a joke and many national Republicans rallied to his side. Instead of being chastened by the experience of repudiation by his own party, and instead of learning something from the public’s increasing opposition to foreign wars, Lieberman spent the last six years agitating for new conflicts in which the U.S. could be ensnared. In each case, he wasn’t putting the interests of the country or his constituents first, but was privileging an activist foreign policy over both. When he leaves, the Senate will better off for having one less reflexive hawk in its midst.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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