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)

    How do you go from your party's VP nominee to a shill for the other side? How does that happen....

    I have never seen a politician look out for himself more than Joe.


    May 21, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    And Lieberman and McCain want you to pay 12.00 a gallon for gas!

    May 21, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Tejano

    Mr. Lieberman, that is exactly my problem with the Democratic party.
    The far left wing of the political spectrum has taken over the party of our parents and grandparents. It started with McGovern and now that the McGovern flower children are adults, they are more irresponsible than ever. It's almost like they never grew up. This is their last chance to establish their brand of Socialism in America.

    I fought them in the 70's and I will continue to fight them come November. My country will not become another Socialist Nation.
    Not on My Watch.. Semper Fi.

    Vote McCain save our country from the Socialists.

    May 21, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Venus

    Proof of the war mongers! It won't work!

    By the way – is there any thing else Mc Cain is running on?

    Go Bam!

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Jaime

    That is something I haven't heard of before. The warmonger's justification of belittling those who would seek peace is by calling them the "Peace at Any Price" crowd, hoping to invoke fear in what the price is, all the while ignoring the price being paid now for aggression:

    American Lives, American Money, Iranian Hegemony.

    This is the legacy of our policy of imperialism.

    What's more hillarious is that the Peace movement is not a leftist extreme position. It's actually coming from BOTH sides. From leftists and liberal thinkers, certainly, but also from true conservatives like Ron Paul, who truly believe in limited government and non-interventionist foriegn policy.

    Ultimately, we – as a nation – must put the needs of our freedoms above the government's quest for more power.

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |


    Joe Lieberman is just speaking his conscience. Our country would be better off if all politicians were less polarized. Lieberman is the model for reaching across party lines and working to improve the quandry that is Washington.


    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. james

    Traitor !

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. mmartin arkansaw

    kennedy met with kruschev you moron!that's who was supplying missiles to cuba.what a twit to twist history so lieberman can keep america in the middle east ,fighting israel's wars,for them.he's a traitor to his party and this nation.i hope he goes down for war crimes with bush cheney mccain and the clintons.all supporters of this illegal war.

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. austbill

    Politics in this country has become a JOKE!

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Kiah

    This guy has got to be the DUMBEST person I've ever seen. He is political TRASH!

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

    i know its so tempting but everyone should stop bringing up the obama talking to iran subject and if they do bring it up mention the REAL head of iran, the supreme leader, Ahmadinejad is second in command in that country and doesnt have final say on things exspecially talks with countries(the us in this case) the supreme leader has called the "incarnate of evil".

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. anon

    A Republican blogger put it best when he said:

    "We'll trade you Hagel if you give us Liebermann."

    To which I say:

    It's a deal if you take Hillary Clinton too and give us a cheeseburger for her.

    May 21, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. john


    The truth is that this turncoat flip flop lieberman will be out of a job November.

    Bye Joe and good riddance.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. broadstreet buddy

    first of all Lieberman needs to stand with the Democrats or Harry Reid should strip him of his high democratic leadership positions in the Senate. He should not be telling a fellow democrat how to act when lieberman himself is endorsing the Republican candidate. He has no credibility on this position.

    Second McCain is as far away from Kennedy as you can be. "I know Kennedy, Kennedy was a good friend of mine and you, (John McCain), are no John Kennedy.

    Third, how can this guy still believe McCain knows what hes talking about when he has pointed out McCain's recent errors to everybody in front of the press. McCain is constantly taking positions on subjects based on fantasy not fact. It is not like he does not know the facts because on many of these issues he has flip flopped after receiving the nomination.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. New Day

    Is it me or does Lieberman look like the Emperor from Star Wars before his face was mangled? Some chuck him down the exhaust port labeled "Irrelevant Also-rans."

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Jane, College Park, Maryland

    This from Mr. Limp man, Limp-from-party-to party man?
    It is scary that we left our destiny in the hands of all these 'has been-stil- wanna be' men for so long. No wonger we are in this messed up state as a country.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Nevada!

    Lieberman... your an idiot. He used to be a dead, down the center moderate that I had originally thought was going to get my vote without question. Since the primaries began, McCain has constantly changed his views and become more and more conservative for fear that he wouldn't capture the conservative vote. He continues to support Bush, then disagree with what he says, then go back again. There is no consistency with McCain which should be something people watch out for when heading to the polls. We don't know exactly which version of McCain we are going to get. If you are going to attack Obama... at least do it with something you can create an argument for. This is just pointless rhetoric that only hurts McCain because people know the truth.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    McCain is easy to define you know the Straight Talk Express!

    1.Your sons will get drafted for war with Iran, this how we get out of Iraq.

    2.$12.00 a gallon gasoline for your Trucks and SUV’s, more wars for oil.

    3.Your homes will loose 50% more of there value, that’s your dumb fault you bought it you can loose it.

    4.Father of the next great Depression in America

    5.If you get sick that’s your fault. No Health Care not the Governments Job.

    6.Pardons Bush and Channey for lying about WMD’s and Al-Qaeda in Iraq

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Mike, Palo Alto, CA

    What a croc. McCain has capitulated to right wing that controls the GOP ... one example, a woman's right choose. He has gone from saying Roe should remain to advocating its reversal. Another example ... he once condemned the Religious Right ... and now seems to embrace it. I liked McCain when he really did speak out against the Right in the GOP.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Dewayne Wade....

    McCain = Kennedy?

    then why is Kennedy's brother, Ted Kennedy endorsing OBAMA?!!!!!

    Give me a break, maybe if AL GORE had a real VP on his ticket in 2000 then he'd be President right now.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. logical woman/New York

    joe just go to israel, israel is your only interest.
    I and my family are Americans of one citizenship. jews have dual -citizenship. My first priority is the U.S.
    Lieberman's prority is israel. Lieberman just wants the U.S. to engage iran into a war. it aint happening joe. Obama will be President and your and the neo-cons agenda is shot down!!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. David Goldman for OBAMA



    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Mike from Westchester

    Can you see it – the eerie similarities between McCain and JFK? neither! Lieberman should stay off the sauce.

    He's a good guy, basically moderate, but becoming more of a Republican as time goes on. Guess he wants the veep spot.

    Lieberman as McCain's brain is an improvement over Rove as Bush's brain, but Obama is a much better choice....and he comes with his own working brain. What a concept!

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. Mary

    Be careful Liberman you might fall out of the closet.

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Jason B

    Someone who switches to the wrong side is not only a traitor but a moron

    May 21, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10