01/23/04 — Lieberman: A good man, but far back in the pack

View Archive

Lieberman: A good man, but far back in the pack

Despite the old adage, good guys don’t necessarily finish last.

But in the current campaigns for president, one of the very best obviously will not be finishing first.

For reasons which must escape or bewilder many of us, Sen. Joe Lieberman appears to be running so far back in the pack that he no longer is considered a serious contender for the Democratic nomination.

Even Al Gore, who chose him four years ago as his running mate, turned his back on Lieberman and embraced Howard Dean.

The oldest of the candidates, Joe Lieberman lacks the fire-breathing, dashing charisma of his opponents. To younger voters he might appear more grandfatherly than fatherly.

Many dyed-in-the-wool Democrats probably are unforgiving of Lieberman who boldly stood in the well of the Senate at the height of the Lewinsky affair and denounced President Bill Clinton for his conduct and for his deceit.

In a recent issue, the proudly liberal New Republic magazine noted that Lieberman’s actions then not only took personal and political courage but “emboldened his colleagues to do the same ... and helped keep Clinton’s immorality from tainting the whole party.”

While a Democrat of unassailable credentials, Sen. Lieberman has dared to voice positions that have drawn fire from teachers unions and such party icons as Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Yes, said Lieberman, let’s try school vouchers. Yes, said Lieberman, demand more accountability of our schools.

But while urging greater accountability, the senator also has insisted that the federal government assist lower levels in rising to their responsibilities.

All candidates at every opportunity reach out rhetorically to the “middle class,” most spewing venom at the rich.

But no one among them has a greater compassion and projects a clearer perception than Joe Lieberman of the working class — “people breaking their backs so their kids can live better.”

“It is our responsibility to make that happen and not just to keep taking from them,” declared Lieberman in a New York Times interview.

Lieberman is a man possessed of a vision sharpened by experience and a political philosophy tempered by reality. He is a man recognized and respected for his intelligence and impeccable integrity.

He is a gentle, modest man of sincerity and warmth.

A good man, way back in the pack. And not a ghost of a chance of finishing first.

Published in Editorials on January 23, 2004 12:10 PM