Lieberman tries to make amends

HARTFORD – Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 on Wednesday tried to close the book on a difficult chapter in his political career – namely, his support of Republican Sen. John McCain’s presidential candidacy.

Speaking to a roomful of reporters in downtown Hartford, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee turned self-proclaimed Independent Democrat spoke highly of President-elect Sen. Barack Obama’s actions over the past few weeks.

“Everything that President-elect Obama has done since election night has been just about perfect, both in terms of a tone and also in terms of the strength of the names that have either been announced or are being discussed to fill his administration,” he said.

Lieberman alienated many of his fellow Senate Democrats earlier this year by not only campaigning for McCain, but also speaking negatively of Obama in the weeks prior to the election.

“Eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times,” he said of Obama at the Republican National Convention in September.

On Tuesday, Lieberman continued to step away from those remarks, saying he “expressed regret” to Obama.

“In the heat of the campaign I said some things about President-elect Obama that I could have said more clearly, and I said a couple of things that I wish I hadn’t said at all,” he said.

Lieberman disagreed with criticism that he has not explicitly apologized to Obama. He said he looks to follow Obama’s lead and put the partisanship behind him.

Even though he was recently welcomed back into the Democratic fold, Lieberman said he has no intention of changing his identification from “Independent Democrat” to “Democrat.”

“I was elected as an Independent,” he said. “I have always been a registered Democrat, but I was elected on a third party line.”

Looking forward, Lieberman said his relationship with Democrats will look more like it did before 2006, when he lost the Democratic primary.

“It appears to me that the war in Iraq is coming to a successful — I don’t want to say conclusion yet, but it’s moving in a way that it will not be a divisive issue either in the Democratic Party or between Democrats and Republicans in the time ahead,” he said. “And therefore, I think we’ll return to more normal times, which I welcome.”

Sen. Bill Nelson ’65 of Florida told the News in a phone interview Wednesday he thinks the “same-old Joe Lieberman” will return to the Senate in January. Nelson was one of Lieberman’s most vocal supporters in the Democratic Caucus last week, arguing that Lieberman should not be stripped of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Joe is a consistent guy with great integrity; he will be coming back to the Senate the same as he was,” he said. “He made some mistakes, but those are in the past – it is time to move on.”

Nevertheless, Lieberman is still in hot water in Connecticut, two members of the Democratic State Central Committee are pushing forward with a resolution to censure him and ask him to resign his membership in the party.

State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said in a phone interview with the News last week that she does not think the party will move forward with the political excommunication.

“I understand people, and I agree something should be done to let him know we are upset with him over some of the things he has said and done recently, but if President-elect Obama says he wants Lieberman to remain a Democrat and Senate Democrats say they still want him, I don’t see how we can do it,” she said.


  • greg

    Dinardo doesn't know what CT democrats can do because the US Senate Caucus caved in to political expedience? I have a very clear idea of what we can do. We can show Joe Lieberman that his CT constituents no longer support or trust him and want him censured.

    This is not partisan, no matter how Joe tries to frame it. This is accountability to the people you represent. I find it incredibly offensive that voters trying to hold their senator responsible for his own decisions are viewed as divisive, partisan, and bitter. My understanding is that this is a fundamental aspect of democracy.

  • Tom Payned

    The title, Lieberman tries to make amends, is at a minimum, misleading.

    Making amends begins with admitting to your bad acts and seeking from the party you injured, forgiveness, which is granted in large part by accepting responsibility for the wrong you have committed.

    As a member of a 12 step program, I understand this simple concept. Joe obviously doesn't and either do the senators and president elect Obama. All they are doing is enabling him which will lead to further destructive behavior.

    Lieberman obviously didn't learn ethics while at school And not be held accountable will not further this lesson he has not mastered.

    While the senate is a an overly congenial club, the electorate is not.

    What Mr. Lieberman did was disrespectful of those of us who worked hard for a democrat majority and to elect Mr. Obama.

    While Mr. Obama signaled his willingness to allow Mr. Lieberman to keep his place in the caucus, many of us are not that charitable.

    But taking the issue of president elect Obama off the table, us party faithful have a different reason to dislike and distrust Mr. Lieberman.

    On November 4th, Mr. Lieberman opted to be interviewed by right wing hack Glen Beck. This was not something done in the heat of the moment, but a conscience decision by Mr. Lieberman.

    When asked about the prospect of the democrats reaching 60 seats in the senate, giving them a filibuster proof majority, Mr. Lieberman replied "I fear for the survival of our country."

    Their is no ambiguity in this statement. Should anyone beleive for a moment that Mr. Lieberman's vote can be counted on, I can't imagine a clearer sign necessary to put that thought to rest.

    Lieberman needs to public apologize for all of the things he believes shouldn't have been said.

    Anything less is a slap in the face to real democrats.