Joseph Lieberman on Principles & Values

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004

The GOP can't use their normal playbook on me

Pres. Bush said that the Democrat he thought would give him the toughest fight for reelection was Joe Lieberman. Incidentally, this is an opinion on which I agree with President Bush. The reason is that the Republicans can't run their normal playbook on me that they try to run on Democratic candidates. They can't say I flip-flop because I don't. They can't say I'm weak on defense because I'm not. They can't say I'm weak on values because I'm not. They can't say I'm a big taxer and a big spender.
Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

AdWatch: Fighting extremes of both parties

AD AUDIO: LIEBERMAN: I love America, but I hate the direction in which George Bush is taking us.

ANNOUNCER: How do we defeat George Bush's extreme agenda? It'll take more than extreme anger. Joe Lieberman has spent 30 years rejecting the extremes of both parties. Fighting against discrimination. Taking on corporate polluters. Helping protect children from trash culture. Standing strong against terrorism. Championing tax cuts for the middle class. Joe Lieberman: the integrity to fight for what's right.

ANALYSIS: This is an anti-Howard Dean ad that doesn't mention Dean's name. Lieberman acknowledged this, and his media advisor says "everyone is quite clear what we're talking about." The Connecticut senator is seizing on a recent spate of stories about Dean's temperament-and trying to position himself as the moderate alternative to the more liberal Dean-without risking a backlash by suggesting the party's front-runner is extreme as well as angry.

Source: Ad-Watch of SC market, Washington Post, p. A04 Jan 6, 2004

Independent minded center out candidate, like Bill Clinton

Q: Why do you think you have the best chance of beating Bush in a general election?

A: It is because I am the most independent minded center out candidate in the Democratic field -- which is to say that I am the most like Bill Clinton was in 1992. That means that I can take Bush on where he is supposed to be strong but really isn't -- defense, security and values. I can defeat him where he is weak on his failed economic policies and his right wing social agenda. Years ago someone told me that you can't help the people unless you get elected, and that is important to voters who want to deny Bush a second term to remember. We have to run a candidate who can hold Democrats together, appeal to moderate Republicans and win among independents, and I believe I am that candidate.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 3, 2003

Very different than Republicans-a good Democrat

Q: Truman said that if a Democrat tries to look like a Republican, the Republican will win every time. How are you very much different from a Republican?

A: The fact is that I am very different from the Republican I am running against which is George Bush. I have a very strong support on social justice and social progress. My positions on civil rights, environmental protection, education, health care, women's right to choose, consumer protection, worker protection, are like day to George Bush's night. I resent it when some people say just because I am strong on defense and am willing to talk about values in public life that somehow I am not a good Democrat. To me being strong on defense and talking about values is all about being a good Democrat in the tradition of Kennedy and Clinton and Gore.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 3, 2003

True to the ideals of Bobby Kennedy, where he got started

Q: You were Robert Kennedy's Connecticut coordinator in his 1968 Presidential campaign. Do you believe the Democratic Party still follows many of the ideals that Bobby Kennedy presented?

A: First, I am impressed that you knew I was active in the Kennedy campaign in 1968. Second, my campaign for president is all about making sure that the Democratic party is true to the ideals of Bobby Kennedy. That means fighting for social justice and social progress, being able to unite Americans across possible dividing lines like race and nationality and to unite us around the values that we share and the dreams for a better, safer life we all have. That particularly includes making improvements to our public schools and our healthcare system.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 3, 2003

Favorite song: Frank Sinatra, "My Way."

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

He & Gore warned about Bush, and Bush turned out even worse

In 2000, Al Gore and I went all around this country and warned the American people about George W. Bush. We said he would squander our surplus. We said he would compromise civil rights, he would abandon the middle class and he would turn his back on the poor. Let's be honest about this, the presidency of Bush has been a worse nightmare than even Al and I warned America about.

Joblessness, 3.5 million people have lost their jobs, 2.5 million have fallen out of the middle class into poverty, our schools have been underfunded. So many of our capable lower-income kids are going to have trouble going to college. Civil rights have been eroded. The environment has been plundered today. At home and abroad, America is weaker.

We need a fresh start. We need a president who will unite America around our shared values and restore security and prosperity to our country and fairness and integrity to the White House. With your help and God's help, I intend to be that president.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

I know I can beat Bush; I already did

Americans deserve not an either/or choice in 2004 between a president who is strong in the world and a president who is strong here at home. They deserve strength in both, and that's what I offer. I am the one Democrat who can match George Bush in many areas where he's strong; defense and moral values, and beat him where he is weak; on the economy and his divisive right-wing social agenda. I know I can beat George Bush. Why? Al Gore and I already did it. And with your help, we'll do it again.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Takes on the tough battles throughout his career

Q: People think you're too nice to be president and you're just not tough enough to take on President Bush.

LIEBERMAN: I'd like to come over there and strangle you, George.

You don't have to be a screamer to be tough. When I was attorney general of Connecticut, I sued the insurance companies, one of the big interest groups in my state. As a US Senator, I've taken on some of the big interest groups. In my party, I am the only one on stage who has taken on Hollywood, the entertainment industry, for peddling sex and violence to our kids. I went to the floor of the US Senate and spoke out against a president to whom I was devoted because he did something that I thought was wrong. I supported the Gulf War. I supported the war against Saddam Hussein. My career shows that I am ready to do the right thing for our country. That's what strength is all about.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Bush lacks experience & isn’t ready; Gore has plenty & is

Q: You’ve been hitting Bush on experience. Cheney said today. “If there’s one of the two tickets lacking in experience, it seems to me it’s those guys. They’ve spent virtually their entire careers in elective office, getting paid by the government, never having met a payroll, living inside the Beltway.” How do you respond?

A: Public service is a profession. It doesn’t mean that the only way you come into it is by being in public service. But president of the US is the most important, complicated, demanding job in the world. And when you look at the relative experience of these two candidates and what their record is, I just think that Al Gore is so much more ready to be a great president. He’s had national and international experience that is wide. He knows world leaders. He’s worked to balance the budget and keep the economy growing. I think, on balance, Governor Bush is not ready, with all respect, at this point, to be the kind of president that America needs and Al Gore is.

Source: Larry King Live, reported on CNN.com Nov 1, 2000

Will not drop out of Connecticut Senate race

A day before the deadline to pull out of the Connecticut Senate race, Joseph Lieberman said emphatically Thursday that he would not drop his dual candidacies. “I promised no October surprises, and there will be none. I really think it would, in many ways, be an act of bad faith if I pulled out at this point.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times Oct 26, 2000

Religion fills “vacuum of values” & provides common ground

Returning to one of his most cherished and provocative themes, Joseph Lieberman called today for a greater role for religion in public discourse, as a source of shared moral principles and an antidote to “the vacuum of values” in American culture. Lamenting that it has become unacceptable in many circles to discuss religion, Lieberman said that “we have gone a long way toward dislodging our values from their natural source in moral truth.”

“Without the connection to a higher law,” he said, “it becomes more and more difficult for people to answer the important day- to-day questions that test us: Why is it wrong to lie or cheat or steal? Why is it wrong to settle conflicts with violence? Why is it wrong to be unfaithful to one’s spouse, or to exploit children, or to despoil the environment, or defraud a customer, or demean an employee?“ Lieberman said that religion provides a common ground for values - nonviolence, respect for others - that few would find objectionable

Source: Richard Perez-Pena, NY Times Oct 25, 2000

I requested report, and I said “stop it” to Hollywood

CHENEY: I liked the old Joe Lieberman better. Joe established an outstanding record in his work on violence in the media. There is the view that the depth of conviction isn’t quite as strong as it was. On one hand, he criticizes the activities of the industry, and at the same time, he participates in fund-raising events with some of the people responsible.

LIEBERMAN: Al Gore and I have felt for a long time that we cannot let America’s parents stand alone in this competition that they feel they’re in with Hollywood to raise their own kids. John McCain and I requested the report that proved conclusively that the entertainment industry is marketing adult-rated products to our children. When that report came out, Al Gore and I said to the industry, “Stop it. And if you don’t stop it in six months, we’re going to ask the FTC to take action against you.” Al Gore and I agree on most everything. We disagree on some things, and I have not changed a single position since Al Gore nominated me.

Source: (X-ref Cheney) Vice-Presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Hollywood deserves reprimands at times, but not censorship

After threatening Hollywood with sanctions, Lieberman softened his tone. “Al and I have tremendous regard for this industry. We’re both fans of the products that come out of the entertainment industry -not all of them but a lot of them. From time to time we will have been -and will be -critics or nudges. But I promise you this, that we will never, never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make. We will nudge you but we will never become censors.”
Source: Terence Hunt, LA Times Sep 19, 2000

Advocates civil religion, not religiously based policy

Lieberman espouses a greater role for faith, and was rebuked last week for suggesting that belief in God is the basis of true morality. Lieberman later backed away from his comment.

Many Christians came to Lieberman’s defense, saying they had been advocating the same things for years and had been vilified. But Lieberman’s message is substantially different from that of the Christian conservatives. As a Jew, without a sectarian mandate to proselytize, Lieberman bears none of the baggage of the religious salesman, and thus is more palatable to a wider public than evangelical Christians.

Many religious scholars say that Lieberman recalls an older, non-sectarian spiritual underpinning to government. Lieberman instead advocates what has been called “civil religion,” the ties that bind America’s majority of believers, of whatever faith. The term encompasses the basic beliefs that led the Founders to proclaim that the Creator had endowed man with certain “inalienable rights.”

Source: David Firestone, NY Times, p. WK-5 Sep 3, 2000

Religion runs deep in US and is source of strength to people

“Religion is a source of unity and strength in America. and the United States is the most religious country in the world.. Sometimes, we try to stifle that fact or hide it, but the profound, and ultimately most important, reality is that we are not only citizens of this blessed country, we are citizens of the same awesome God.”
Source: Story Posted on CNN.com Aug 28, 2000

Freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion

Lieberman made a passionate call for Americans to bring faith more prominently into public life, arguing that the nation needs to draw values and strength from religious beliefs “While so much of our economic life is thriving, too much of our moral life is still stagnating. As a people, we need to reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God’s purposes.”

“Let us reach out to those who may neither believe nor observe, and reassure them that we share with them the core values of America, that our faith is not inconsistent with their freedom, and that our mission is not one of intolerance, but of love. We know that the Constitution wisely separates church from state. But remember, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Not freedom from religion. So let us break through some of the inhibitions that have existed to talk together across the flimsy line of separation of faith: to talk together, to study together, and to pray together.“

Source: Matea Gold, LA Times Aug 28, 2000

The next frontier is within us

Forty years ago, we came to this city and crossed a new frontier. Today, we return with prosperity at home and freedom throughout the world that John F. Kennedy could have only dreamed about. We may wonder where the next frontier really is. Tonight I believe that the next frontier isn’t just in front of us, but inside of us-to overcome the differences that are still between us, to break down the barriers that remain, and to help every American claim the limitless possibilities of their own lives.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention Aug 16, 2000

Only in America

I try to see this world as my dad saw it from his bakery truck. I know that somewhere in America there is another father loading a bakery truck or a young woman programming a computer or a parent dreaming of a better future for their daughter or their son. If we keep the faith, then 40 years from now, one of their children will stand before a gathering like this with a chance to serve and lead this country that we love. So, let them look back to this time, and this place, and this stage and say of us: they kept the faith. Let them say that we helped them realize their hopes and their dreams. And let them look around at this great and good nation that we are all so blessed to share, and say: Only in America.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention Aug 16, 2000

Christian right leaders call Lieberman an ally

Lieberman [is] an Orthodox Jew whom many Christians, and especially conservative evangelicals, regard as an ally on a number of social and moral issues. Although he frequently wears a yarmulke on his head, Mr. Lieberman is seen by some Christians as a kindred spirit for his willingness to wear his religion on his sleeve. His talk of the Talmud’s inspiring both his values and his votes has often been cited by those Christians who believe that the Bible ought to guide public policy.

“I think the vice president made an excellent choice,” the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who is supporting Gov. George W. Bush, said in an interview yesterday. “It is a public acknowledgment that his candidacy has two great needs. One is credibility, which Mr. Lieberman brings to anything he touches. The second is an everlasting divorce from Bill Clinton, and this is that.”

Source: Laurie Goodstein, NY Times, p. A21 Aug 8, 2000

With GOP on defense & social issues; with Dems on budget

Lieberman has often taken positions at odds with the Democratic Party on school vouchers, affirmative action, regulation of managed care, capital gains taxes and product liability. He has sided with the Clinton administration on all important budget votes, and unlike many other Democrats he has supported the administration’s positions on trade and welfare.

Lieberman’s views are completely in tune with the vice president’s on abortion, the environment, gun control, gay rights and the death penalty. He has usually supported the Clinton administration on foreign policy issues, and in 1991, Lieberman and Gore, who was then a senator, were among only 10 Democratic senators who voted to give President George Bush the authority to use military force in the Persian Gulf. When he has opposed the Clinton administration, Lieberman has invariably taken a more conservative stance, often the one held by Republicans.

Source: David E. Rosenbaum, NY Times, p. A19 Aug 8, 2000

Clinton’s affair was inappropriate, immoral, & harmful

Lieberman stood up in the Senate to speak about Bill Clinton. They had been friends and Democratic allies for 30 years, but the president had finally admitted having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. “Such behavior is not just inappropriate-it is immoral. It is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family,” he added. “I fear the president has undercut the efforts of millions of American parents trying to instill in our children the values of honesty.”
Source: Robert D. McFadden, NY Times Aug 8, 2000

Tries to strike balance between conservative and liberal

“I’m going to do what I think is right on every issue, and not feel obliged to vote a particular way because it’s the party line or because people expect me to.” Lieberman often seems to be striking a balance between conservative and liberal instincts. On the liberal side, he has voted for abortion rights, gun control, tax increases, welfare reforms, consumer protections and civil rights legislation. On environmental issues, he helped draft clean air laws, wrote the Pollution Prosecution Act of 1990, exposed lax security measures in nuclear power plants and supported minimum-wage increases and laws to protect whistle-blowers. On the conservative side, he has been far more enthusiastic than most Democrats concerning military spending. Lieberman has been a staunch Senate supporter of Israel, but has also backed arms sales to Saudi Arabia. In 1991, he was one of 10 Democrats to support American involvement in the Persian Gulf war, and he favored the deployment of American troops in Bosnia.
Source: Robert D. McFadden, NY Times Aug 8, 2000

Accepts V.P. request; “walks the same path” as Gore

“I believe deeply in Al Gore,” Lieberman told reporters. “I’ve known him for 15 years. I have not met a more honorable, intelligent, hard-working progressive person in public life in America than Al Gore. So it’s not just an honor to be asked to run for vice president, but it’s a special honor to be asked to run for vice president with a man who I think is ready to be one of America’s great presidents.”

Lieberman said he thought Gore wanted to run with someone with whom he shared “values and policies... And you know, I’m sure people in these few days will point out a couple of the areas where I may have taken different positions but, honestly if you look at our overall record support for environmental protection, support of the Gulf War, strong support for the economic policies that have brought us such extraordinary growth in the last decade, on and on and on, Al Gore and I have pretty much walked the same path.”

Source: MSNBC.com Aug 7, 2000

Personal faith is his basis for public service

[My faith] gave me clear answers to life’s most difficult questions. The summary of our aspirations was in the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, which is translated “to improve the world” or “to complete God’s Creation.” It presumes the inherent but unfulfilled goodness of people and requires action for the benefit of the community. These beliefs were a powerful force in my upbringing and seem even more profound and true to me today. The ideal of service [is] fundamental to my religious faith.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p. 24-5 & p. 30 May 2, 2000

Good laws protect us from private interests & profit

My consumer and environmental protection enforcement work [as Connecticut Attorney General] reinforced that people need the protection of good laws or they will be cheated, polluted, and otherwise taken advantage of by those who have more interest in profit or convenience than in doing what is fair & just. There is a relevant insight from the Talmud: “As with fishes, the one that is larger swallows the others. Were it not for the fear of government, everyone greater than his fellow would swallow him.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p. 70 May 2, 2000

Legislating has become campaigning; wrong focus

The problem in Congress today is that campaigns never end. Legislating has become campaigning by another name, which often means not much legislating gets done. Elected officials at the federal level regularly position themselves for the next campaign. They focus too much on raising the vast sums of money needed for expensive television advertising, and worry too often about the ramifications of a single vote they cast, for fear that it will come back to haunt them in the next election.
Source: Excerpt from “In Praise of Public Life”, p.124-5 May 2, 2000

Senate status: influential & non-partisan

Lieberman has come to occupy a unique place in the Senate, exerting influence out of proportion to his seniority, an influence that comes from respect for his independence of mind, civility of spirit and fidelity to causes in which he believes. In a bitterly partisan time he is one of the least partisan Democrats on Capitol Hill, one of the very few Democrats not to engage in lockstep White House defense in the Clinton scandals. Yet Lieberman is anything but a political innocent.
Source: Almanac of American Politics 2000 (Barone & Ujifusa) Jan 1, 2000

Goal should be to protect nation, not punish Clinton

James Madison concluded in the Federalist Papers that leaders had to recognize “the necessity of sacrificing private opinions and partial interests to the public good.” That, in my mind, remains the foremost obligation we have [with regards to] President Clinton’s misconduct. It is our overarching responsibility to think first of what is in the best interests of the nation.

The House proceedings [were] defined by bitter partisanship [and hence] exacerbated the divisions this matter has caused, and eroded the public’s trust in the fairness and legitimacy of this important process.

As the trial proceeds, we must remember that our goal is not and should not be to punish the President but to protect the nation. I am convinced that the only way to serve that compelling interest is to resolve this matter not as Republicans and Democrats but as Americans, bound by a common purpose and free of partisan prejudice. The public that we serve, already deeply skeptical of our motives, deserves no less.

Source: Press Release, “Nation, not out Private Interest” Jan 12, 1999

President’s private conduct has public consequences

I was disappointed because the president of the United States had just confessed to engaging in an extramarital affair with a young woman in his employ and to willfully deceiving the nation about his conduct. I was personally angry because President Clinton had, by his disgraceful behavior, jeopardized his administration’s historic record of accomplishment.

After much reflection, my feelings of disappointment and anger have not dissipated, except now these feelings have gone beyond my personal dismay to a larger, graver sense of loss for our country, a reckoning of the damage that the president’s conduct has done to the proud legacy of his presidency and, ultimately, an accounting of the impact of his actions on our democracy and its moral foundations.

No matter how much the president or others may wish to compartmentalize the different spheres of his life, the inescapable truth is that the president’s private conduct can and often does have profound public consequences.

Source: Statement on Senate floor Sep 3, 1998

Joseph Lieberman on Florida Recount

Believes they got more votes & won popular vote & election

Q: Have you ever doubted yourself in fighting this fight after the election?

A: I honestly have not. If we come to that moment, we will know it. But this is not about fighting on regardless. Ever since Election night and the next day, all that we have asked is that every vote that was cast be counted. And that’s a simple and profound American proposition. It’s not only important to the people who voted, but it’s important to the next president so he takes office without that cloud over his head. When you’re treated unfairly by the government in America, what do you do? You go to the courts. And that’s what we’re doing. And we’re not going to carry this on to a point where it will hurt this country.

Q: Do you feel that if every vote in Florida was counted, you would win this election?

A: I believe we would. That’s part of why Al Gore and I are asking for this hand recount. Remember, we won the popular vote. We’re just three electoral votes short of victory.

Source: Lieberman interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” Nov 29, 2000

If every vote counts, then count every vote

From the beginning of this extraordinary period of time, Vice President Gore and I have asked only that the votes that were cast on Election Day be counted. This evening, the secretary of state of Florida has decided to certify what by any reasonable standard is an incomplete and inaccurate count of the votes cast in the state of Florida. The secretary of state has even refused to accept the results of the count in Palm Beach County, which means that hundreds of votes that have already been identified for Governor Bush or Vice President Gore are being discarded.

In thousands of hours of work by hundreds of citizens of Florida, Republicans and Democrats and independents alike are being ignored. What is at issue here is nothing less than every American’s simple, sacred right to vote. How can we teach our children that every vote counts if we are not willing to make a good-faith effort to count every vote?

Source: Speech by Lieberman responding to Florida re-certification Nov 26, 2000

Reconsider overseas military ballots, even if imperfect

Joseph Lieberman said today that Florida election officials should reconsider their rejection of hundreds of military ballots from overseas, even if they might not comply with the law. Lieberman’s comments, a retreat from the position the Democrats had taken since Friday, came after they were stung by Republican charges that they had made a concerted effort to disenfranchise members of the military.

“My own point of view, if I was there, I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel, generally,“ Lieberman said on NBC’s ”Meet the Press.“ Of the local canvassing boards, he said, ”If they have the capacity, I’d urge them to go back and take another look, because again, Al Gore and I don’t want to ever be part of anything that would put an extra burden on the military personnel abroad.“

Source: Richard P‚rez-Pe¤a, NY Times Nov 19, 2000

Religious affiliation: Jewish.

Lieberman : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH6 on Nov 7, 2000

Supports Hyde Park Declaration of "Third Way" centrism.

Lieberman signed the manifesto, "A New Politics for a New America":

As New Democrats, we believe in a Third Way that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms America’s basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and community of all.