Thursday, March 28, 2024

RIP Joe Lieberman

Back at the dawn of the modern election-conspiracy era, Al Gore and his running mate Joe Lieberman, despite winning a half-million more votes than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, suffered defeat at the hands of a clearly biased Supreme Court.

He told The New York Times in 2023, “It was a miscarriage of justice on two levels. One was that the Florida Supreme Court had already ruled in our favor to continue the recounts, and the other was that it was an extrajudicial political decision made in the crisis of a transition of power, and out of line with precedents of the Supreme Court.”

Lieberman passed away this week at age 82 after injuries from a fall at his Bronx home.

Instead of becoming vice president, Lieberman began a retreat from a long and impressive career of public service. He was about as centrist as a politician got and his style has not exactly translated to our era of maximum fringe and infighting. 

But Lieberman had a truly impressive record of work on social causes to better the world, starting with his earliest efforts in civil rights. He went on to be a major player in the introduction of the Department of Homeland Security after the September 11 terrorist attacks, led the fight against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and provided the tie-breaking vote to pass Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 

His descent was spurred by losing in the Democratic primaries for president in 2004 and losing his Senate seat for Connecticut in 2006. Even since leaving politics - when I hadn’t really thought about him for years beca,use I assumed he had retired from public life - Lieberman worked at a lawyer, as chair of No Labels and was even surprisingly considered for a short time by Trump to lead the F.B.I. 

The Times added:

At his political peak, on the threshold of the vice presidency, Mr. Lieberman — a national voice of morality as the first major Democrat to rebuke President Bill Clinton for his sexual relationship with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky — was named Mr. Gore’s running mate at the Democratic National Convention that August in Los Angeles. He became the nation’s first Jewish candidate on a major-party presidential ticket.

“It was a very hard thing for me to do because I liked him,” he told Bill Kristol, the neoconservative commentator. “But I really felt what he did was awful.”

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