Joe Lieberman Dies at 82; Former Democrat VP Candidate-turned-Independent, Jewish Political Hero; ‘Last of the Moderates’

2024-03-27 14:34:06

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman died Wednesday at the age of 82 due to complications from a fall, according to his family.

He was “the last of the moderates,” conservative radio host Mark Levin said.

Lieberman was in the news just a few days ago after he criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for demanding early elections in Israel. He called Schumer’s gambit “outrageous” and a “mistake” in the midst of Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists.

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Lieberman had a remarkable career. He attended Yale for college and law school, served as attorney general of Connecticut, and won election to the state legislature.

He became more religious over the course of his life, and was the only Orthodox Jewish member of the Senate during his twenty-four-year tenure. He observed the Jewish Sabbath, and even wrote a book, The Gift of Rest (2009), about its importance. When votes were on Saturdays, he would walk to the Capitol from his home in Georgetown and a colleague would cast his vote for him.

Lieberman was a New Deal liberal, who combined an enthusiasm for civil rights, social welfare, and liberal social policies. He did not, however, support gay marriage, and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, defending the importance of traditional families in the raising of children.

He grew in stature as a moral voice in the Senate, and was one of the Democrats who spoke out most forcefully against President Bill Clinton’s conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair, though he ultimately voted against removing Clinton from office in Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999.

When then-Vice President Al Gore (D) ran for president in 2000, Lieberman was a natural choice as a running mate: his criticisms of Clinton would allow Gore to put some moral distance between himself and the troubled incumbent.

Lieberman’s nomination was also a milestone in American history, as it marked the first time a Jewish person had been considered for the nation’s second-highest office, with the potential to rise even higher.

Gore and Lieberman won the popular vote, but fell short in the Electoral College after the controversial Florida recount, and after the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore (2000), ensured victory for Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

But Lieberman became an important ally of the Bush administration in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when he spoke out forcefully in favor of the war against Al Qaeda.

Drawing on his experiences as a Jew and a supporter of Israel, Lieberman emphasized the need to confront terrorists both militarily and ideologically. He also supported Bush in the Iraq War, remaining a steadfast supporter of the effort as it faced a bloody counter-insurgency.

That led to a major backlash against Lieberman in the Democratic Party. He failed to gain traction as a presidential candidate in 2004, then faced a primary challenge in 2006. The so-called “netroots” of online left-wing activists targeted Lieberman for defeat, and backed businessman Ned Lamont on an anti-war platform.

But after losing the primary, Lieberman became an independent, betting that Connecticut voters still supported him — and he won.

In 2007, Lieberman endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for president, backing the veteran lawmaker due to his support for the war against terror.

Lieberman went on to launch No Labels, an independent group that seeks moderate, nonpartisan alternatives to traditional candidates. He praised President Donald Trump for his pro-Israel policies, and attended the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, telling Breitbart News that support for the Jewish state should not be a partisan issue.

He also appeared on Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot 125 on several occasions. In 2019, he told Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow that President Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was “critically important.” He explained: “The fact that [the president is] unconventional enables him to do something that presidents before him, of both parties, probably thought was the right thing to do but never did.”

Lieberman also told Marlow in 2019 that the Democrats’ shift to the “far left” would hurt them: “There’s a difference between being a traditional liberal Democrat and being a far-left Democrat, and this is not a far-left country,” he said. He added that Democrats had failed a “moral test” by refusing to punish antisemitism in their ranks when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) let Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) avoid serious consequences for anti-Jewish remarks.

He is survived by his wife Hadassah, his former wife Elizabeth Haas, children and grandchildren.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency,” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Joe Lieberman Dies at 82; Former Democrat VP Candidate-turned-Independent, Jewish Political Hero; ‘Last of the Moderates’


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