May 21st, 2008
11:10 AM ET
14 years ago

Lieberman: Obama not willing to 'stand up to the left wing'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Sen Lieberman has traveled with McCain on the campaign trail."] (CNN) - Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, took his criticism of Barack Obama to a new level Wednesday, writing in an op-ed that Republican John McCain’s “political courage” stands in stark contrast to Barack Obama’s – and that his former party had moved “further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.”

"When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves, Lieberman said in the Wall Street Journal piece, adapted from a weekend speech. “By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

“Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign,” said Lieberman, who has endorsed the Arizona senator’s presidential bid.

"In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it. John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies,” wrote the Connecticut senator.

Lieberman added that there were occasions when the tough diplomacy advocated by Obama might be called for, but that he believed the Illinois senator was advocating “a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

"Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot."

Two months ago, Lieberman compared to Democratic icon John F. Kennedy.

“I'm a Democrat who came to the party in the era of President John F. Kennedy,” Lieberman told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week. ”It's a strange turn of the road when I find among the candidates running this year that the one, in my opinion, closest to the Kennedy legacy, the John F. Kennedy legacy, is John S. McCain.”

“…The Democratic Party today was not the party it was in 2000. It's been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist and basically… very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me,” he said.

Earlier this month, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he didn’t question Obama’s commitment when it comes to the Middle East, but said the Illinois senator's failure to set pre-conditions on the meeting shows inexperience, and “not only gives prestige [to Ahmedinajad], but threatens our allies in the region.”

soundoff (239 Responses)
  1. John from New York

    Didn't Joe Leiberman win his last term by losing in the Connecticut's Senatorial Primary, and then depsite the vote, still run as an Independent??

    And now he's siding with the Republicans??

    If ever there was a flip to McCain's flop!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Sharon Minnesota

    Barack Obama is not just going along with the lefty activist wing, he's the big feather in their cap. He's also the reason I will be voting Republican for the first time in 30 + years unless by some stroke of luck Clinton takes his place. There's so much radicalism in the democratic party it is unrecognizable.

    My husband and I have said all along that Obama is the DNC radical left wing's puppet and that's exactly why Clinton has been treated so poorly. She's her own gal and will run this country so much better than he ever could. If not Clinton, then McCain 08

    May 21, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Casual observer

    Lots of Democrats on CNN obviously, based on verocity of the responses.....probably a lot of members from writing back. As a moderate Republican, I would need to see that Obama will not pander to the extreme left, i.e. 911 conspiracy theorists, Code Pink, the city of Berkeley with the Marine recruiting center. These groups are out of touch and people will need to see that Obama is a centrist, not because he says he is, but by his actions.

    May 21, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. H-ROD

    Joe lieberman is the worse, and Hillary Clinton will copy his every move once she drops of the race, she wiil try and run as a independent, this woman is as republican as Lieberman. Hillary is a evil woman

    May 21, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Cesar

    Dear Mr. Lieberman,
    Isn't John McCain the one who gives a speech and gets confused as to whom is the real "enemy" in the middle east, and YOU had to whisper in his ear the name of the actual "enemy"? My jaw is still on the floor since that incident, he wants to bunch everyone in that region together under "enemy", it was sad to hear him speak that day.

    May 21, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Joel King

    Anyone that thinks McCain will be a Bush third term is just an uneducated bafoon. Your brain has been washed. McCain is very different and will be our best president since Reagan. As bad as Bush has been the Democrats lost to him twice. Their only chance of winning is to make him look like Bush. This a sad statement for the future of the Democratic party. They are torn over two people who cannot beat McCain. This hurts me to write this since I have been a loyal Democrat for thirty years. No more! In ten years they will be the third party in this country.

    May 21, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |

    Lieberman and McSame – the greaters Jokers in the world !!!

    May 21, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Xango 4

    Oh please who is he???
    is he even for real???

    I mean, talk about someone so out of touch.. with reality, the voters, the world, life itself..
    joing billary club.. free membership as long as you can say something racist, divisive or something like sniper fire in bosnia or some other lie

    May 21, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. G in Dover, NH


    It's a matter of perspective. To far to the left of what? The extreme right?

    Maybe it's not the democrats who have moved, or maybe they've moved closer to the center, and republicans are heading off the deep end.

    And please, Obama, whether you want him to be president or not, is far more like JFK. Barack isn't even partisan, let alone hyper-partisan.

    May 21, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. HIllary or McCain? Nobama? What?

    People who post "Hillary or Mccain" are republicans, or should be. Hillary is for withdrawing from Iraq and so is Barack. Haven't you been paying attention? God, you people are complete idiots. Joe Lieberman ran with Al Gore and is supporting John Mcsame. It is disgusting and shameful. NO DEMOCRAT worth his weight in salt would vote for McCain. You idiots should regester as republicans because you are all a bunch of fools! We don't want you and we don't need you.

    Obama-Hagel 08
    Change we can believe in.

    May 21, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. J

    JFK backed a coup of Iraq using US intelligence to back Saddam Hussein's baathe party. How many Democrats remember that?

    Lieberman is right on. Obama wants to bring about absolute socialism and equality, regardless of whether an individual earns it. Working hard will become meaningless as he is happy to fund programs to replace income for the laziest segment of the population. And to top it off, as he tries to "protect" groups that elect to put themselves in the situation they are in, he will fail to protect those that have absolutely no choice and are silently murdered every day...unborn children.

    May 21, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Phil in KC

    Joe Lieberman – Republican who thinks he's an Independent Democrat. Does anyone really know where he stands? And this guy is criticizing Obama? After listening to Obama's Iowa speech, I think Obama knows exactly where he wants to go.

    May 21, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Adam C

    he is nothing, he should be talking about obama.

    May 21, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. RocketScience

    I find it incredibly ironic that a man who abandoned the democratic party after he couldn't win his party and state's senate race, who now cloaks his republican leanings in the guise of "independent" can have any sort of clear judgement on what is and what is not political courage.

    May 21, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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