All of official Washington seems amazed that activist Democrats are opposing Senator Lieberman's reelection. He was just your party’s nominee for vice president, they say, it’s disloyal and impertinent, and he’s had a good voting record on traditional Democratic issues for a long time.
It isn’t my battle. I’ve got enough of a headache with Pennsylvania’s Senate race, and Rick Santorum is more problematic than Joe Lieberman. But as an activist Democrat who’s heard a lot about Connecticut politics lately, I think I can shed some light on this murky matter.
Whenever I turn on the television, I see Senator Lieberman supporting the Bush administration on seemingly every fool idea it comes up with. Then Republicans and the corporate media talking heads trumpet “bipartisan support for the president’s” idiotic nomination, budget, whatever. Other Democratic senators who agree with an administration proposal here or there are not publicity hounds on TV from first thing in the morning till late at night. If the senator takes over as secretary of defense, as is rumored to be his fondest desire, then perhaps we’ll see an end to this barrage of “bipartisan,” which means Republicans plus Joe.
Another matter that has infuriated some Democrats is his antichoice stance, which in his home state has made him seem nasty. Some Connecticut hospital emergency rooms, apparently because of the religious affiliations of the owners or the staffs, refuse to provide morning-after contraceptives to rape victims. When asked about this problem, Senator Lieberman’s answer was that the raped woman or girl has the option of leaving and going to another hospital emergency room, of which there are many in Connecticut. He doesn’t seem to have any sympathy for an emotionally and perhaps physically traumatized crime victim being told to go find someplace she likes better, if she’s such a tramp she isn’t willing to spend the next nine months and then the rest of her life reliving her rape if “God” blessed her with a pregnancy. His sympathies lie with the powerful owners who choose to unscientifically and irreligiously equate a morning-after pill for a rape victim with murder.
Regardless of his behavior, no doubt every Democrat in Connecticut would vote for Joe if the ballot listed Lieberman versus Santorum, but I can understand why they’d want a senator who has more empathy for women and less sympathy for the White House, even if he is a famous establishment figure.
(Other versions of this blog post were previously submitted as letters to the editors of Time magazine and Philadelphia Jewish Voice.)