No Democrat wanted Joe Lieberman's endorsement

The media's treatment of Lieberman as an Oracle of Independence is the opposite of what he really is.


Glenn Greenwald
December 19, 2007 5:47PM (UTC)

Like most major media outlets, Chris Matthews treated Joe Lieberman's endorsement of John McCain as though it was some sort of highly meaningful, riveting news event, featuring Lieberman as his top guest on Monday. But during that interview, Lieberman himself unintentionally revealed why few things are less significant than who Joe Lieberman endorses for President:

MATTHEWS: You have passed over a lot of Democrats that you know pretty well. You serve in the Senate, obviously, with Dodd, with Biden, with Clinton, with Obama. You've known Bill Richardson for a long time, and all the others. Are all the others out of your consideration? Are they just not strong enough for America for you to endorse?

LIEBERMAN: Look, these are a lot of fine people. A lot of them are my friends. But you got to go with the best at this time in American history. . . .

Incidentally, you and I are both students of the great Tip O'Neill. All those Democrats, not one of them asked me to support them. John McCain did ask for my support. I thought about it...

MATTHEWS: You know the rule. People like to be asked.

LIEBERMAN: That's right.

Leave to the side how narcissistic and petty Lieberman reveals himself to be here, as he clearly harbors self-absorbed resentment that "not one" Democrat came to him and asked for his support, even implying that his choice for who should be the next President was shaped by such a needy desire to be stroked.

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The more significant fact is that -- as Lieberman himself admits -- "not one" Democrat even sought his endorsement, precisely because news that Lieberman liked a particular Democratic candidate would not be irrelevant, but far worse, would be a kiss of death for that candidate. As he wallowed this week in what he has always craved most -- a tidal wave of media attention -- Lieberman tried to masquerade as Zell Miller, implying that he was abandoning the Democrats because their views no longer matched his own, invoking the trite justification of every warmonger who was formerly a Democrat ("I became a Democrat when John F. Kennedy ran for the presidency. I was -- I have been a great admirer of Truman, and people like Humphrey and Scoop Jackson afterward").

The reality, though, is the opposite of what Lieberman tried to depict (as always). Lieberman didn't voluntarily leave the Democratic Party. To the contrary, he tried desperately to stay in the party, and it was Democrats who ejected him because his war-loving, Middle-East-obsessed views are so repugnant to what most Democratic voters believe. That's why no Democratic candidate even wanted Lieberman's endorsement.

Despite how it continues to be treated by the press, the announcement that Lieberman endorsed a Republican candidate was no more newsworthy than if Bill Kristol or Sean Hannity -- two of Lieberman's most enthusiastic supporters -- had done so. They are all indistinguishable. What else can one say of someone who said this of Democrats on Monday:

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: In November, they would have a hard time convincing the American people who know we are at war against a brutal enemy that attacked us on 9/11 that they were prepared to do what is necessary to defend America.

That's just straight out of the lowliest smears of The Weekly Standard script: Democrats aren't "prepared to do what is necessary to defend America" -- by which Lieberman (like Kristol) means that they are marginally less likely to invade, bomb, torture and detain the endless array of Israel's Middle Eastern enemies. [And just incidentally, here was Steny Hoyer's revealing response after Wolf Blitzer played the tape of Lieberman smearing the Democrats as unwilling to "defend America": "I think Senator Lieberman, who I -- is a good friend of mine, I respect him, but I think in this instance he is wrong." Wow - powerful].

Like many media stars, Chris Matthews (who, while chatting with Lieberman, admitted this: "I voted for Bush the first time") hailed Lieberman as the Beacon of Objectivity and Importance:

MATTHEWS: Senator Lieberman joins us right now. Senator Lieberman, it is wonderful to see you back in action at the presidential level.

LIEBERMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Here you are, sir, an independent man...

LIEBERMAN: A cameo role, Chris, right.

MATTHEWS: ... an inconvenient man -- no, it's more than that, sir.

Joe Lieberman is at the very far end of the neoconservative right-wing spectrum on every issue involving war, foreign policy, executive power, and terrorism. The only issues in which he evinces any real interest at all are those relating to the Middle East, where his views are uniformly neoconservative. His views on those matters are deeply unpopular in the United States, and it's just simply inaccurate to depict him as residing anywhere near the political center.

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That's true now, and it will be true when he is one of the featured speakers -- 2008's Zell Miller -- at the RNC Convention, regardless of who the nominee is. It's been evident for quite some time and it should not be that difficult even for our political journalists to digest. This is someone who was thrown out of the Democratic Party and whose endorsement nobody wanted.


Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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