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. Richard T. Brady

    Lieberman is a cronic whiner. Good riddance from the democratic party.
    Soon enough it will be good riddance from national politics.

    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Rich

    Kick Joe out of the Democratic Party! No Joe!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. kelly WI

    Obama first Affirmatinve Action Pres?

    Come on Supers. You have a reason for being called Supers.

    you were put in place so the dems wouldn't nominate another Carter or Mondale, etc. Show some courage go for Hillary.

    Oh, I know, you are afraid of riots in Denver. Well, the dems have done alot worse to the blacks.

    On second thought, go for Ob.
    McCain 08

    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Michael straight talk

    Sen. Joseph Lieberman why not join Republican Party and shut up! Hopefully Sen. John McCain will take you on his ticket. You do not have moral authority to critisize Sen. Obama given all the false attack you have launched against Sen. Obama before. It was so low of you to try to utilize the respect you enjoy within Jewish community to justify the pandering and smearing attack which Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain launched against Sen Obama last week. You know that it is wrong, but being the opportunist you are, you couldn't resist the temptation to join the chorus! The willingness to use diplomatic instrument more to solve more of the global problems has nothing to do with "appeasement" of terrorists! I tell you what appeasement is: Sen. McCain's support to giving those who have killed many American Soldiers Iraq millions of dollars each month, as part of "surge" tactics. I challenge you to offer similar amount to Hamas, and they will not send rockets to Israel again! But of course, it is a temporary solution like in Iraq. It is only through diplomacy like it was done with USSR, China, etc that would bring a long lasting solution. Talking to ones enemies/"axis of evil"! So what is your problem, or your are just playing same old Washington politics???

    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. W.

    McCain as JFK? Well, strip from Kennedy his respective youth, vitality, good looks, charisma, storied family, strong legacy, commitment to social change, Democratic Party allegiance, U.S. policy, foreign policy, and bipartisan, whirlwind support from young and old alike, and you are left with, indeed, an uncanny resemblance between the two gentlemen.

    May 21, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. sozzi

    It all comes down to ISREAL'S protection. Sorry, Mr. Lieberman, but Isreal should be our number one priority when it comes to protecting the United States of America. Isreal can protect it's self.

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Mike Birmingham, AL

    I will never vote Republican again.

    Republicans for Obama!!!

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Bri

    Some comments posted here are exactly the point. When a democratic leader stands up for what he believes, he is called a nut or a joke. That's why most democratic party leaders just say what people want to hear...such as 'healthcare for all!' (but never say how they will pay for it). Lieberman is liberal on almost every issue. He just happens to believe we should leave Iraq with some sense of victory and stability. There were many mistakes by Bush in Iraq. But focus should be on correcting the situation so we can leave with pride. Neither part benefits from leaving Iraq with shame. But how we leave Iraq will be important to all americans and the future of America.

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Dems Unite!!!

    Hey Lieberman, are you the one running for President? NO, then SHUT IT!!! Your the biggest of flip floppers Democrat, Republican, Independent, Republican...what next?

    Obama '08 + '12

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. MJAMES

    Add one more to the count of life long Republicans voting for Obama.

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Eleanor

    He stands behind MCBush bc like Carl rove was Bushs tiny brain

    Lieberman is MCBushs *Memory*

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Anton

    Here we go again...all the Obama supporters shooting of their mouths, with really nothing new to say.

    May 21, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Tommy Thompson

    Lieberman is an absolute tool.

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Garth

    To think I used to like Lieberman.

    I don't think the party has moved left, Joe has moved right.

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. catty

    David Smith,

    Answer me this...when has Obama EVER united anyone to accomplish anything? Your statement is in stark contrast to his voting record in the senate. Base on that, it's more accurate to day he is the antithesis of a uniter. is records show him making no decidions on anything! How is he going to bridge the gap between left and right when ALL his policies are very far left??

    I have to agree with Leiberman, as much as that pains me! The hype behind obama is clearly only on the left. Those of us on the right are finding many things left to be desired by the great "uniter."

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Tired of all the Flap

    Lierberman is not willing to stand up for the American people or anyone but his own interest which is the Jewish state of the American people and Israel. He is vying for McCain's Secretary of State so that he can get this country in further trouble with the Middle East politics that they are so unwilling to negotiate with us because of Israel. Lieberman is not to be trusted by the Democrats because we have seem how he goes from being a V.P. on the democratic ticket to kissing the Republicans a-es. He cannot really say anthing about Obama because at least he is trying for us to stay and sustain the world power that we have built our country on.

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Squid Shark

    "chris (hartford, ct),

    Seems his constituency is ALL the people of the State of CT, not just the nutroots of the state of CT.

    Since he is still Senator, I would guess that the people like him.

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. James

    Nothing says that Obama will be the nominee as of today and only the convention in August will decide.

    Obama's family and Reverand Wright will be his donwfall.

    Michelle Obama is said to have been filmed at Wright's church railing white people and calling them "WHITEY"! If this video is put out by the Republicans in the fall it will destroy him. We need to see this video now to stop what would be a catastrophy for the Democrats.

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Frank in NY

    I think if Mcsame stops short Lieberman will go up his....well you get the point....I cant wait to vote for McSame in November so I could give my children things I never had....10.00 a gallon of gas...starvation...and chaos....NOTTTTTTT!

    Obama....and if your a Hillary supporter and you will vote for McSame out of spite your just stupid.....oh wait isnt that the demographic she aims for???

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Karen P

    Lieberman needs a new job

    May 21, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. No Bama

    Hillary or McCain. Those two we can trust to keep our country strong and defend our nation from our enemies. Not Obama. Why?
    Because we don't trust him or his agenda. We love our country too much to turn it over to an inexperienced person with no track record of accomplishments. As president he cannot vote present. He actually has to make a decision. So we don't trust him.

    HIllary or McCain.

    May 21, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Suzette

    "HILLARY HAS THE POPULAR VOTE", do you have to yell? Is that the only way to get your point across? And, exactly what point are you making by saying that Obama is "anti war"? Are you saying that Hillary is "pro war"? You might want to THINK before you speak. And, by the way, she only gets the popular vote if you change all the rules to her benefit. I sure hope you don't have children, cause this is a pretty pathetic lesson you're teaching them – change the rules when you're losing.

    May 21, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Larry Buchas

    Hey Joe,

    We're standing up to you, weasel! I would like to see you debate Chuck Hagel.

    McCain can have you. Barack will have Chuck Hagel.

    May 21, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Jeff

    I don't know why I get sucked in to reading this stuff. All it does is serve to frustrate me. Why can't people just respect the opinions and beliefs of others without resorting to name calling and other childish stuff? There are good republicans and good democrats and bad republicans and bad democrats. There are intelligent republicans and intelligent democrats as well as the less intelligent types. How many and what percentage lie in each category is completely subjective to the person doing the rating. I agree with some stances of both parties though the "party line" is often way oversimplified so as to make it impossible to agree wholeheartedly with anything either party puts out. I am sick of the power grabbing. It only results in candidates that nobody is comfortable voting for without reservations.

    May 21, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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