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.

Members have made 6 comments.

  1. Member

    The Coffin is Yaled shut.

    • #1
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:40 am
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  2. Member

    For some reason I am reminded of Big Julie in “Guys and Dolls”: “I have a poifect record: twenty-three arrests; no convictions.” That seems to describe how many politicians see it.

    • #2
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:44 am
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  3. Inactive

    Lieberman could always be counted on to talk a good game and stop just short of actually doing the right thing (during the Clinton impeachment for example).

    • #3
    • January 3, 2013 at 6:32 am
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  4. Member

    Regarding politicians, I’d also reference Big Julie’s dice set. The dots have rubbed off, but he remembers which go where. 

    • #4
    • January 3, 2013 at 7:38 am
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  5. Contributor
    Jonathan Horn Post author

    I meant convictions, of course, in the positive sense for Senator Lieberman. I have adjusted the headline to clarify.

    • #5
    • January 3, 2013 at 8:13 am
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  6. Member

    It is OK, I suppose, that the Democratic Party leaders keep saying that Lieberman moved to the right. What is shameful is that the mass media parrot this line without any idea that there is any other viewpoint. 

    In any reasonable view, the truth is that Lieberman has been consistent and has not changed while both the Democratic Party and the mass media have all lurched leftward together.

    It is really good for Zeke Miller to make the case with solid information and analysis. Thanks for the link.

    • #6
    • January 3, 2013 at 8:39 am
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