May 21st, 2008
11:10 AM ET
13 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. Sherrie, NJ

    And Lieberman and McCain are not willing to stand up for the American people.

    May 21, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. KK

    Lieberman–put a dirty sock in it!

    May 21, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Peterson

    I am sure he's targeting the VP slot from Mccain, He is a Yes man

    Obama 08

    May 21, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Wow, the valuable words of a hardcore Neocon. You obviously have no credibility among Democrats, and certainly no credibility among true Republicans. Why is Joe Lieberman still in office?

    May 21, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Traitor

    You disagree with McCain's economic policies, and that's the most important issue to Americans. How do you criticize when you yourself don't back the entirety of his views?

    May 21, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. kenny cole

    this are two stupid man following their self Mccain & Joe

    May 21, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Mark

    No I believe Lieberman your stated...

    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. ...

    What I take from this is John McCain will do as he pleases when he pleases, regardless what the american people think...

    This is a DEMOCRACY.... NOT a DICTATORSHIP....

    No more of McSame...Bushes third term will NOT happen!!

    May 21, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Mike

    Wow, this guy is a nut! How much were you paid for your opinion. McCain wouldn't be so bad, but he hasn't stood up for anything since he started running for office. Apparently an exception to your analysis Mr. Lieberman, is when running for the presidency, you can lie and no longer stand for anything, or at least until you get the job. Right?

    May 21, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. David Smith

    Senator Lieberman, with all due respect (and that respect is significant!), I think you are missing a point here. Senator Obama is a coalition builder, one who unites people to accomplish great things, rather than a drawer of lines in the sand as some other elected officials are. Obama fights, but the fight is subtle, helping to guide things to an amicable conclusion. Of course, I could be wrong, and I am sure many will say I am, but that is what I have seen thus far. I will not comment on any other candidate or elected official on this matter.

    May 21, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. D.Kimbro OHIO

    Mr. Lieberman is such a joke. Dude you have been in every party that exist. Is that your cowardly plan to criticize each party you leave. Sorry Joe you cant have it both ways. By the way McCain will use you up. Do you think the conservatives would ever allow him to choose you as a running mate.

    May 21, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Jeff

    A Republican in the post about Sen. Chuck Hagel proposed a trade: Lieberman for Hagel.

    I'll take it. Lieberman is just another Harm-America Neocon.

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Western Voter

    What an outrage to have someone like Lieberman say the "Democratic Party is not what it was in 2000." That's the point Joe! Remember how Joe stood up to Cheney in the 2000 debate! NOT! Now I get it. In 2000 we didn't know how much Joe and Cheney agreed on.

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. some guy

    this from a supporter of a guy who changed his views to support Bush?

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. tony richards

    Joe, who would listen to your babble. The people of Conn. haveto live with Sen. they elected sad to say

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Marie in California

    Obama's not willing to stand up to anyone or anything. We've seen that a few times already. He has no cojones.

    We've also seen that he stands FOR nothing either.....just vague wisps of smoke called "hope" and "change."

    The only vote he gets from me is the vote of..... NO CONFIDENCE.

    Hillary or McCain – 2008

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. nitro

    Joe Rockhead needs to shut up and see how a real candidate whoops on a republican. All we need is for McCain to make him VP and the whole thing is over with.

    May 21, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Victor Tientcheu

    Lieberman has to know where he is.
    Obama shows us how he can mamge our country. People believe on him and that why he is beating Clinton on this primary

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. proud army and navy mom

    lieberman is beside mcain more than cindy is. you all think mccain and him got something going on the side? just saying.....

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. kim portland, oregon

    it is amazing to me the number of mccain friends and staffers who are upset with his convenenient new love of the FAILED bush administration! this tells us what most of us already knew. mccain cannot be trusted as his views change whenever it benefits his candidacies.

    GO mckinnon and hagel, these men KNOW the real mccain and they are supporting OBAMA. there's a reason for that.

    and as for the right-wing, fear-mongering tactic of telling you obama not being able to protect us from the "terrorists", you have NO grasp of the REALITY of the situation in the middle east, iraq and iran in particular, or the world. it may be a slogan, but it defintely fits the climate of the world TODAY--WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!!

    bush and the repugs, through their invasion of iraq and future invasion of iran, have made this country and the middle east MORE UNSAFE!!! the middle east has been fighting for thousands of years, in what reality does starting another war make sense!?!?!

    you do realize that iraq HATED al qaeda and they had ZERO presence in the country until we invaded iraq. we opened the floodgates and made al qaeda even stronger.

    and the "insurgents" are not the same thing as "terrorists". the insurgents are everyday iraqis defending their country against an invasion, which is EXACTLY what we americans would do if we were invaded.

    mccain is so outdated, backwards, past-thinking, and ignorant to think these wars will do ANY good. we all know the invasion had very very little to do with "democracy" anyway, it's all about petty ego cr@p, the oil, and war-profiteering.

    obama is in line with every other civilized country in the world that knows we have to talk with people we dont agree with, and that war WILL NOT solve the problems in TODAY'S world.

    who's gonna do more to keep us safe in the world where the majority of the citizens are brown, an angry old rich white guy out for a buck, or an intelligent brown man who wants this country and the world to reach its potential?!?!?! the choice is really obvious!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Uncle Sam

    We have on the one hand a naive presidential hopeful who promises change, while on the other we have an experienced heroic statesman with a proven record of change. Am I missing something?

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. @americans

    keep linking mcshame to bush.

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Sharon

    Lieberman who? Wasn't he the weak link in the 2000 prez race? Give me a break! Go ahead and jump on the other side of the fence, which is where he wants to be anyway. Don't use the politics of this race as an excuse!

    May 21, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Lynnette

    Who whispered this nonsense in his ear while he was standing behind McCain?

    This man needs some serious help. Why exactly does he stand behind McCain all the time? I have never really seen anything like that before in politics.

    May 21, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Chad

    Hey Joe,

    Obama is willing to stand up for everyone, not turn tale and run to a party that degraded you less than 8 years ago.

    May 21, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. mmartin arkansaw

    nobody likes lieberman,anymore ,because he has become a right wing zealot.hillary is playing the sex card,now,big time.i wish lieb. would take hillary and mccain and leave our country.they are not patriotic.

    May 21, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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