As U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman steps down in early January, he is being hailed by his friends in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.
Those friends include Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Harry Reid, Susan Collins, and Richard Blumenthal, among others.
But one prominent American who has little good to say about Lieberman is Ralph Nader, who still votes in Connecticut and has watched Lieberman closely for decades.
In a detailed interview with The Hartford Courant , Nader had sharp comments about Lieberman on a wide variety of issues. The following are some excerpts.
On homeland security: “Lieberman’s claim to fame was the initiation of the Department of Homeland Security. We know how bloated and inefficient and stupefying that department is. It was the worst type of bureaucratic reorganization when you put the Secret Service and the Coast Guard under one umbrella. It was just unwieldy, inefficient and stupefying. That’s his claim to fame.’’
On former U.S. Sen. Abe Ribicoff: “I think Ribicoff towered over Lieberman. He got things done. He not only got things done, but his committee had a broad spectrum of oversight. He wasn’t a one-note Charlie. When you think of Ribicoff, you think of health and safety. When you think of Lieberman, you think of militarism, empire, and political betrayal of his party. … I go for dissidence and dissent, but this guy has morphed it into betrayal.”
On Lieberman’s numerous appearances on national television: “The greatest media puzzle on Lieberman is he got on more Meet The Press, This Week, and Face The Nation, and he had no power base. It is unbelievable how many times he got himself on. There are people in Washington totally agape on why he got on – for no reason.”
Is he a Republican or a Democrat?
“He’s half and half. He’s a unicorn. By the way, it’s been very successful.’’
On the Republican political strategy against Democrat Ned Lamont in the 2006 Senate race: “Karl Rove told me that he wanted Lieberman. I met him in the green room at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. That’s no secret.’’
On Lieberman’s numerous attempts in the U.S. Senate to pass bills on climate change, including getting more than 50 votes but failing to muster 60 votes to block a filibuster: “He dropped it. He had other priorities.’’
When asked for Lieberman’s greatest accomplishment, Nader said, “Politeness. In the Senate, that gets you a long way. He’s not polite to those people in Iraq and Afghanistan. His politeness really was an enormous asset to him. He never shouted. He smiled. If you get seen as a screecher in the Senate, raising your voice like Bernie Sanders, you lose points.’’
On Lieberman’s famed speech on the Senate floor in 1998 on Monica Lewinsky : “It was the right thing to do. It wasn’t courageous. It was a very successful political thing for him to do. Why was it called courageous? Because inside Washington, you’re not supposed to do that. Joe didn’t exactly go after Clinton with hammer and tongs. He got it both ways. Nobody ever said he wasn’t a clever politician.’’
On Lieberman’s success in the Senate and in elections: “Lieberman had four-leaf clovers in his pocket throughout his political career. What politician would have survived all that I’ve been describing?’’