Paul  Weyrich

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman is a rather garden variety liberal Senator on most issues. After all, it was just six years ago that he was chosen as the Democratic Party's Vice Presidential nominee to run with then Vice President Albert A. Gore, Jr. in that election.

There are two things which these days make Joe Lieberman different than many Democrats. First, he defends religion in the public square. As the Vice Presidential nominee he spoke often of his religious life. He lists himself as an Orthodox Jew, although some Orthodox Jews dispute his orthodoxy. They claim that the Senator does not observe all Orthodox Jewish practices and they say that no truly Orthodox Jew would vote for liberalized abortion, which Lieberman has done repeatedly since becoming Connecticut's junior Senator in January, 1989.

Lieberman was elected over three-term liberal Republican Senator Lowell F. Weicker. NATIONAL REVIEW publisher William F. Buckley endorsed Lieberman over Weicker. That was a signal for conservatives in Connecticut to support Lieberman.

For his part, Lieberman campaigned against pornography and said had he been in the Senate in 1987 he would have voted to confirm Judge Robert H. Bork for the United States Supreme Court. Buckley's brother James, a former New York Senator, ran and lost to be Senator from Connecticut. Buckley's move was seen by some as a means to avenge his brother's loss.

Weicker was narrowly defeated and conservatives rejoiced. He had been a thorn in the side of conservatives for decades. Lieberman became a reliable liberal Democrat, so much so that when Vice President Gore went looking for someone with whom he would feel comfortable to run Lieberman's name popped up on the radar screen. Although the ticket lost narrowly in 2000, Lieberman got high marks for campaigning and especially for re-introducing religion to some Democratic voters.

The other point which distinguished Lieberman from his fellow liberals is Lieberman's unswerving support of the war in Iraq.

A fervent backer of Israel, Lieberman has supported most defense measures over the years but he especially has backed the war in Iraq. He believes, with President Bush, that if we would be fighting the Muslim terrorists on our soil if we weren't fighting them in Iraq.

Meanwhile Weicker renounced his Republican label and ran as an independent and won as Governor of Connecticut. He continued to be a problem for Lieberman. It is as if Lieberman were still running against Weicker years later. All of that is still relevant as Lieberman believes that it was Weicker who enticed cable TV mogul Nick Lamont into a primary against Lieberman.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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