S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spirit of the Political Center

Ambivalence is the name for it. That torn feeling when you are having an "on the one hand/on the other hand" argument with yourself. Some of us feel that way when the subject of Connecticut Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman's name comes up. Others have no mixed feelings whatsoever about him.
How someone feels about Joe Lieberman could be the "litmus test" for Democrats all along the progressivity spectrum. His style is emblematic of the fight for the hearts and minds of the party base. When he was running for Vice-President in 2004 most put him at the political center. But is is no longer as simple as that.
He is often highly criticized for a number of reasons other than his centrism. Here is a sampling:

  • AMERICAblog's John Aravosis feels strongly that Lieberman is a conservative, not a moderate. He disagrees with the NYT reporter Adam Nagourney's assessment that Lieberman is moderate.
  • Firedoglake calls the senator "Bush's favorite Democrat" in one of the many Lieberman entries turning up in a search for same.
  • Think Progress' blogger Judd characterizes Lieberman as a "hypocrite," and notes that Atrios shares his opinion.
  • Michael Kinsley in Slate Magazine wrote a piece called "kick Me, I'm a Democrat, " and quoted Paul Gigot this way, ". . . In 2001, for example, the man who now runs that page, Paul Gigot, wrote (in reference to Sen. Joe Lieberman) about "how…the black liberal establishment can punish a Democrat who strays from their plantation."
But others are more even handed in their assessment of this longtime politician.
  • Molly Ivins at Working for Change calls Senator Lieberman a pragmatist, grouping him with Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden for their views on Iraq.
  • Steve Clemons, who is The Washington Note blogger, notes reporter Howard Finenman's writing about the senator in the context of a possible third party.
Bipartisanship has often been the hallmark of Senator Lieberman's style. Many value that attribute in the legislative process. For instance there was a serious discussion at one time about President Bush appointing Lieberman as the head of the Homeland Security Department to succeed Tom Ridge.
My biggest admiration for Senator Lieberman, not counting his 2004 run with Kerry, comes from two episodes. One is his magnificent Ranking Member partnering with moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins as she chairs the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Their committee gets credit for the reorganization of the intelligence community following 9/11. The other is his capacity to withstand having President George Bush give him a kiss.

References: Plogress Report for Joseph Lieberman - a site that tracks the Senator's votes and legislative action.
My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about Daylight Saving Time.

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