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Connecticut Newspaper Apologizes For Lieberman Endorsement

lieberman-mccain-md.thumbnail.jpgThe Day has a change of heart:

When The Day endorsed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for re-election in November 2006 it was supporting a candidate who demonstrated a history of pragmatic leadership and a willingness to seek bipartisan solutions.

We wonder what happened to that senator.

Sen. Lieberman’s open-ended commitment to military involvement in Iraq comes as no surprise. The senator made it clear when running for re-election that was his position. Sen. Lieberman wants the United States military to remain in Iraq until the war is won, whatever that means. It conflicts with this newspaper’s position that the time has come for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Despite that difference of opinion, The Day editorially backed the senator because of his experience, his willingness to put principle above politics, as demonstrated by his condemnation of former President Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and his even-handed political approach.

But while Sen. Lieberman remains experienced, he is no longer even-handedly principled.

He seems to be taking delight in poking the leadership of the Democratic Party in the eye. After losing the Democratic primary for Senate in 2006, he had every right to petition his way on the ballot for an independent run. And his decision, after being re-elected, to continue breaking bread with the Democratic Party was a politically expedient decision for both the senator and the party.

With his vote the Democrats took control of the Senate and Sen. Lieberman became chairman of the influential Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But this has proved a marriage of convenience with the couple sleeping in different rooms.

Sen. Lieberman was quick, and correct to criticize the left-wing group Moveon.org when it ran an attack newspaper advertisement aimed at Gen. David Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq. Yet he refused to end his association as an adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, or even utter a word of criticism, when a spin-off group it created ran a series of misleading TV attack ads aimed at Democratic congressmen, including Connecticut’s own representatives, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy.

Last August when some Democrats in Congress criticized the slow progress of the Iraq government on issues of reform and military readiness, Sen. Lieberman criticized them for “retreating from the real enemies who threaten our vital national interests.” Like the attack advertisements aimed at the congressmen, the criticism unfairly labeled legitimate policy questions raised by Democrats as evidence of weakness on national security.

Meanwhile, the junior Connecticut senator is not only backing the Republican nominee for the presidency, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, but appears to be making a contest of trying to get into every photo and TV news video with him. Perhaps Sen. Lieberman is taking delight in needling the chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, his 2004 opponent for the presidency, whose leadership he once dismissed as a “ticket to nowhere.”

Rather than building the bridges The Day expected when it endorsed Sen. Lieberman, he appears busy burning bridges with the party of which he is allegedly still a member. Perhaps the senator is positioning himself for a top cabinet post in a McCain presidency. But if the Democrats prevail, and enlarge their control of the Senate, it is hard to imagine this Connecticut senator being welcomed back with open arms.

Hey NARAL, Planned Parenthood…the water’s warm, come on down!

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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