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. Kathy

    I think Obama supporters are missing part of the premise here that Obama does not have the cojoles to stand up to what might not be popular. I am a democrat, but I have no confidence in Obama – I just don't think he is the right person to lead this country, esp. considering the current dire straits. Now I realize that he will likely be the dem. nominee, I just hope the dems. choose a VP who is tough in his or her convictions.

    May 21, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Tony

    Scorned lover syndrome if you ask me.

    May 21, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Lifelong Republican

    The Republican Party has lost my vote. Me and everyone I know are voting for Barack Obama.

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. JC

    Lieberman is correct. The Democratic party has moved too far left. Obama is not a "coalition builder," in fact he is more to the left than Hillary. Look at his voting record. The far left wing minority Obama represents will only hurt our country in the end.

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Mark Cross Junction VA

    A true service Hero VS a true zero. Not a hard choice come Nov.

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Josh, CA

    Lieberman is not credible because he has been pushing the most ill-defined war against Iraq from the get-go. He has no shame!

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Obama Nation

    Why should we care this joker Lieberman or Olberman.

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. RickytheGriff

    Well, at least Obama isn't willing to let our children die in pointless wars - have us pay $10.00 a gallon at the pumps - and overturn a woman's right to choose.

    "Show us your "O" face in November: Obama 2008

    "John McCain doesn't have an "O" face"

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Chuks

    Nancy from FL!! (from the last blog)

    How dare you call Obama DNC pets "monkey" because Hillary lost. and go die you racist fool. Get used to it and live it till you LOVE IT because Obama will be the President of this country. I've had it with Hillarys supporters, you all can go to HELL and stay there. No more playing nice and be sure that NO WOMAN will be president for at least another 100 years after Hillarys debacle.

    May 21, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. David Goldman for OBAMA




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

    What is with Lieberman? Does anybody know what he wants from all his effort to defend and protect McCain? Anybody????????

    May 21, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Jessica, MI

    Lieberman= zero credibility

    May 21, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Red, MO

    America is hungry for a president we can believe in, and that person is Barack Obama. We have been spoonfed with lies for 8 years, by GW, Cheney and Rove, and now we are fed up. We want a truthful, honest person who will treat all Americans the same-whites, hispanics, blacks, asians, american indians, everybody. There is only one person running who will do that and that is Barack.

    The Karl Rove sneaky tactics are almost over–I can feel it.


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

    Mr. Lieberman, why don't you, Mcsame and Billary all move to Antartica together. P.S. Don't call us, we'll call you.

    May 21, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Joe, Northern Virginia

    WOW.... was JKF a republican? Did he champion any of the republican’s agenda or ideological ideal? Your guess is as good as mine. There is no doubt in my mind that Sen. Lieberman will continue to fade in a state of political irrelevance. He is just pandering politics of convenience and we all can see through it.

    May 21, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Joe McCallum

    Joe Lieberman is so irrevelant that it is pointless to discuss him. This is the same Joe who did not bring anything to the Al Gore campaign, and consistently shows that he has no integrity at all. He and McCain are a couple made for each other. Go away Joe.

    May 21, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. chris (hartford, ct)

    I'm happy to say that I got to vote against Lieberman twice during his last election. Hard to take him seriously for criticizing Obama for 'failing to stand up' to a party that he left when his own constituency overwhelmingly let him know it didn't want him. Sour grapes much, Joe?

    May 21, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Terence Walker

    And this coming from a guy who bounces from party to party like a Ping Pong ball. Can anyone say political opportunist? He is not to be taken seriously whatsoever.

    May 21, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. No More Years, Lake Forest CA

    Can we trade Hagel for Lieberman straight up, or do we have to throw in a Congressman to be named later?

    May 21, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. ariel

    This is all about Lieberman and his feeling of rejection by Democrats in Connecticut. What a ruthless ego.

    May 21, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Jim Alan

    This claim that Obama is a coalition builder is unsupported by his history in the Senate. He has scored a rating as the most liberal member of the US Senate and has not yet reached across the isle on any issue of significance. So he can clainm to be a coalition builder, but actions speak louder than words. And while we're on the subject, can anybody list any significant legislative and/or leadership accomplishments that Obama can point to while serving in the US Senate? Interesting that we never have been given any examples of his coalition-building leadership.

    May 21, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Vote the Bums OUT!!!

    I was one of those foolish people that voted for Bush twice. There is no way I'll be voting for McCain.

    Republicans for Obama '08

    May 21, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. Proud1of 26% in WV

    This is coming from a man who lost as VP?Boy he has a lot of experience.

    May 21, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Joe from Chicago

    Whats with failed democrat VP candidates comming out and making total fools of themselves?

    May 21, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. R.U. Kidding

    Lieberman: Closet Republican.

    May 21, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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