A Senator of Convictions

Amid all the articles today about dysfunction in the Republican ranks, Zeke Miller has a piece at BuzzFeed about how the Democratic Party’s lurch leftward abandoned one of its most principled sons, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Contrary to the “conventional wisdom” that Lieberman has grown more conservative over the past decade, Miller’s archival research uncovered a “clear line” between the positions that Lieberman formed as a student at Yale and the positions he has defended in the Senate.

What I found also contradicts the Democratic conventional wisdom, that Lieberman transformed himself after he and Al Gore lost the 2000 election. Indeed, from his days on Yale’s campus in New Haven, Lieberman has been remarkably consistent to the socially liberal, foreign policy hawkish ideology he demonstrated as a student.

After examining Lieberman’s relationship to prominent campus figures, including conservative alum William F. Buckley Jr. and liberal chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr., Miller reaches this depressing conclusion:

The Democratic Party of Scoop Jackson and even Bill Clinton had a place for Democrats who sympathized with William F. Buckley. But the modern Democratic Party — the one that brought up Barack Obama — is heir much more fully to William Sloane Coffin. It’s a tradition Lieberman never much understood, but has now rose to dominance such that it’s unlikely there will be another Joe Lieberman any time soon.

What a shame.