Lieberman’s Votes

Yesterday, Harry Reid seemed to back down a bit as it relates to Joe Lieberman’s position in the Senate:

Steve Benen responds:

Senate Democrats will make their decision about Lieberman’s future in the caucus, and they’ll have plenty of information and context to consider. But it’s important that senators get beyond the notion that Lieberman is a reliable and consistent progressive voice on everything but military affairs and national security. If only that were true.

Even if we put aside his painful betrayals throughout the campaign cycle, there are those actual votes in the Senate to consider, including his support for Bush’s judicial nominees, private school vouchers, and partnering with Rick Santorum a few years back to promote Bush’s “faith-based” initiative. It’s not, in other words, just Iraq policy.

That doesn’t seem right to me. Yes Lieberman voted to confirm John Roberts, but so did 21 other Democrats including such staunch Bush opponents and progressive Senators as Carl Levin, Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd, and Russ Feingold. Lieberman did then vote against confirmation for Samuel Alito, along with all but 4 Democratic Senators. As for vouchers, Lieberman has supported them, but it has largely been somewhat moderated proposals, and a part of a broader platform of supported positions, including being one of the first Democrats to embrace charter schools. Upon being picked as Al Gore’s running mate, the American Federation of Teachers said of Lieberman:

“Sen. Lieberman’s support for public education is unquestionable,” she said. “He has never been out to destroy the public education system. He has an excellent voting record, an open mind, is a really intelligent person.”

But she acknowledged: “Look, I’m not saying [opposition to] vouchers isn’t way up there on our list. It is. We have a disagreement on that, and there’s no papering it over.”

In other words, while he might not have been in total agreement on the issue, it wasn’t a deal breaker in any sense, and there were broad areas of agreement. As far asfaith based initiatives go, not that he’s the gold standard for porgressives, but Barack Obama has supported them as well. So Lieberman’s record on all of these issues is not outisde of the Democratic mainstream in any real sense, and I’m still not convinced that it’s in the interest of the Democratic agenda to start what will probably be their peak term with an intra-party fight over Joe Lieberman.