You Don't Know Joe Lieberman Until You Know His Record

Leading up to the Democratic primary in Connecticut, conservatives lamented over the possibility that ultra-liberal, anti-war candidate Ned Lamont would knock incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman out of the race. Many on the right, including Sean Hannity, Karl Rove and David Brooks, came out in support of Lieberman because of his support of the war on terrorism. However, liberals on Daily Kos and Huffington Post noted that once Lamont joined the race, Lieberman kept his conservative friends at a safe distance.

At the beginning of the campaign, Lieberman was a monthly guest on Hannity’s popular radio show. During one show, Lieberman said, “I appreciate your friendship and I appreciate your support.” Lieberman also agreed with Hannity that the “hard-Left” had taken over the Democratic Party. After Lamont entered the race, Lieberman became a fair-weather friend and did not call in to the show for several months. Apparently, the “hard-Left” had also taken over his campaign.

It must be tough for Joe Lieberman to read the awful things liberals have been saying about him. For years he has voted with them, but that, of course, means nothing when it comes to defending America. Peter Beinart of the New Republic called Lieberman a “turncoat,” which at least gives us some perspective on which side of the war Democrats are on.

Poor Joe must be exasperated from talking himself red, white and blue in the face, to paraphrase Clare Boothe Luce, another former politician from Connecticut. Ok, so he’s not as traitorous as the rest of his party. But does he deserve our support? Put it this way: He’s no Zell Miller.

The Democrats may have abandoned Joe Lieberman last Tuesday, but he never abandoned them when it came down to a vote. The American Conservative Union’s annual congressional ratings put the senator squarely among the worst of the worst. In 2005, Lieberman garnered a dismal rating of 8%, opposing conservatives in all but two votes. By comparison, other liberal stars like Senators Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and John Kerry (Mass.) scored 12%, 12% and 8%, respectively. In 2004, Lieberman was a liberal’s dream with a “perfect” rating of 0%. I’m sure fellow Sen. Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.), who also scored 0%, was proud. As Ann Coulter remarked, Lieberman has the distinction of “belong[ing] to the world’s smallest organization … Orthodox Jews for Partial-Birth Abortion.”

By contrast, Sen. Zell Miller’s ACU rating in 2001, his first year in the Senate, was 60%, which is still high for a Democrat. In 2004, his last year in the Senate, his ACU rating jumped to 96%. Conservatives shouldn’t hold their breath hoping for Lieberman to have a similar epiphany.

If any conservative Democrats had doubts about the patriotism of their party’s leadership, the Lamont-Lieberman race certainly gave them proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. ACU Chairman David Keene wrote, “Lamont’s victory was a triumph for the left and a defeat for the United States because it may mean that future elections will be run between candidates of a pro-U.S. party and nominees of an anti-U.S. party.”

At a time when Democrats and Republicans seem to be indistinguishable on spending and the size of the federal government, it’s apropos that their difference would come down to such a base level of distinction in the minds of liberals and conservatives. If Democrats continue to bicker about anti-war candidates, that’s their fight, not ours.

Just nine days after the 9/11 attacks President Bush said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

Likewise, every politician and every voter has a decision to make. They shouldn’t take the Democrats’ spin of Lamont’s win as representative of how all Americans feel about the war on terrorism. In Connecticut alone, those who voted for Lamont amount to only about 7% of the state’s voting population. When you factor in that this is a state that elects Republicans such as Rep. Chris Shays, Lamont’s win holds even less weight.

As Joe Lieberman now runs as an independent in the general election, we’ll have to wait and see which runs deeper — his support for the war on terrorism or his lack of support for every other conservative cause. Unfortunately, Republican senatorial candidate Alan Schlesinger isn’t conservative on a lot of issues either, so what’s a conservative’s best bet? Hold your nose, vote Republican and start shopping for a real conservative to run in the next election.