And here we have Dana Milbank doing what Dana Milbankk does best — being a clueless dork:
It was a lonely farewell for Joe Lieberman.
When the senior senator from Connecticut stood to give his parting address Wednesday afternoon, just one of his colleagues, Delaware Democrat Tom Carper, was with him on the Senate floor.
As Lieberman plodded through his speech, thanking everybody from his wife to the Capitol maintenance crews, a few longtime friends trickled in.
In came John Kerry (Mass.), who bested him in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries and then, like many Senate Democrats, endorsed Ned Lamont, who tried to oust Lieberman from his Senate seat in 2006.
In came Susan Collins (Maine), Lieberman’s Republican counterpart on the Homeland Security Committee, whom Lieberman supported over a Democrat in her 2008 reelection.
In came GOP iconoclast John McCain (Ariz.), who was close to naming Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate in 2008 — which would have made Lieberman the first man on both a Democratic and a Republican national ticket.
A few more senators arrived during the 20-minute speech, but even by the end Lieberman was very much alone — which is how it has been for much of his 24-year tenure. He tried to push back against the mindless partisanship that developed in the chamber, and he paid dearly for it.
Lieberman was excommunicated by his party (he won as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary) and retired this year rather than face probable defeat. Yet he received little love from the Republicans, either, because despite his apostasies on key issues — the Iraq war, above all — he remained a fairly reliable vote for the Democrats.
Let’s be generous and say that Milbank is being naive here — although I think either disingenuous or just plain stupid would be more accurate. Joe Lieberman didn’t ally himself with the Republican Party out of a desire to be “bipartisan.” Joe Lieberman has always been the most cynical of opportunists — interested in Joe Lieberman and nothing else. That’s why he became an Independent after losing that 2006 Senate race in the Connecticut Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. He wasn’t willing to give up his powerful Senate career merely because he was deeply unpopular in his home state, largely because his first and deepest loyalty was to Connecticut’s insurance industry, which bought that loyalty with millions of dollars in campaign contributions — and he knew that his Republican support in the state would be enough to put him over the top. After he was returned to the Senate, Lieberman announced that he would caucus with the Democrats — even though, contrary to what Milbank suggests, his ideology is much more Republican than Democratic — because if he switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party he would have lost his seniority on the House Armed Services Committee, and his position as Chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
And then, in 2008, while still holding on to his prerogatives as a member of the Democratic leadership, Lieberman announced his support for John McCain in the presidential election. That was betrayal enough, but then Lieberman went one giant step further. He announced he planned to campaign for Lieberman. Then when McCain lost, he fought (successfully, more’s the pity) to retain his committee assignments when some Democrats called for him to be stripped of them.
The man is craven. He is an utterly amoral power-seeker, and he’ll do anything he has to to get it and keep it. The Senate is well rid of him.