What To Do About Joe?
Listening to Senator Joseph Lieberman these days, it's difficult to believe that this is the man who was once Al Gore's running mate and not some Pioneer or Ranger or Misadventurer raising money for the Bush-Cheney campaign. The Washington Post chronicled the Senator's recent "Jomentum" as he continues to carry water for the neocons, touting "evidence" to support an attack on Iran last Sunday on Face The Nation (and again on Friday); opposing the vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto "R. for Recall" Gonzales; telling CNN that the surge in Iraq "has worked"; and telling Fox News that "he was more in sync with 'the leading Republican candidates for the presidential nomination,' especially on 'Islamist extremist terrorism,' which he called 'the defining issue of our time.'"
Many citizens in Connecticut aren't taking Lieberman's latest flight to the right lying down. A Connecticut Post editorial — "No More Wars Based on Lies" — read, "In the wake of WMDs, never-ending reports of progress, the insurgency's 'last throes' and politicized terror alerts, our leaders have lost the country. We don't believe youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. Lieberman and his ilk cannot be allowed to lie us into another war. This madness must be stopped." Letters to the Editor in the same paper were similarly critical: "He is not the senator of the people of Connecticut. He is the senator of his own agenda"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦."Every time Lieberman is quoted in news reports here and abroad he is identified as being from the state of Connecticut. Lieberman is bad for Connecticut and bad for our country"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦are we seeing the real Sen. Lieberman who would give the president permission to conduct war without the support of the U.S. Congress and the American people?"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. "If the power of recall existed in Connecticut, Lieberman would certainly be removed from office"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦.
But perhaps no one is more tenacious in his determination to hold Lieberman accountable than Dr. John Orman, author and Professor of Politics at Fairfield University, and Chair — of all things — of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party (CFL). After losing the Democratic primary, Lieberman "created" the CFL Party so that he could appear on the ballot in the general election. Orman, a progressive (former) Democrat who challenged Lieberman for the Senate nomination as an anti-Iraq War candidate in 2005 ("I ran out of money but Ned Lamont arrived to actually save Democrats from Joe," he says), says that he changed his party affiliation to CFL in order to "make political points." Orman won the party Chairmanship in January of this year and there are currently about 20 members.
"We actually encourage our progressive friends to stay in their parties and not join us since we already have official control of Lieberman's fake party," Orman told me. "We have the leadership of the party and we will keep trying to hold Joe accountable because it seems that no one else in Connecticut is willing to do it — except for CFL and bloggers, not mainstream media, Democratic leaders, Republican leaders, etc."
The Connecticut for Lieberman Party has now censured the Senator and called for his resignation. In addition to the Senator's recklessness with regard to Iran, the CFL case against Lieberman rests on three large points: 1) that Lieberman promised Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz that he would form the new third party so that he could run for office, but in fact "he did not join his fake party and his organizing committee failed to form [it] as promised"; 2) that he promised oversight hearings on the Bush Administration's lack of response to Hurricane Katrina and then did a 180 after the election ; and 3) "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ most importantly, he lied about his stand on the war in Iraq."
The Connecticut for Lieberman Party cites pre-election statements from August through November, 2006 when Lieberman said he was staying in the race "because I want to help end the war in Iraq"; "No one wants to end the war in Iraq more than I do"; and his campaign characterized the argument that Lieberman was backing the President's "stay the course policy" as "an out and out lie." After winning the election, Orman says, "he wanted to send 30,000 more troops to Iraq and he returned to being hawkish Joe." The Connecticut for Lieberman Party is exploring possible next steps, including no confidence petitions, formal elections complaints, and mock impeachment trials against Lieberman.
Longtime Nation contributor. Lieberman-watcher and Connecticut resident, Bruce Shapiro says, "John [Orman] is showing that you can be creative about politics, not just roll over to pragmatic resignation."
Giving in to resignation is exactly what this country doesn't need right now. Good to see Orman and other Connecticut voters holding Lieberman — who increasingly seems like a loose cannon at best — accountable.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.
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