Ed Driscoll

"Damned If I Know"

James Taranto writes that “Last night found us at the annual dinner of the Commentary Fund, publisher of Commentary magazine…where Sen. Joe Lieberman delivered the Norman Podhoretz Lecture”:

Lieberman cited at length a 1999 National Review article by Norman Podhoretz, in which Podhoretz credited President Clinton with saving Democrats from McGovernism. “I think the Democrats have been pretty thoroughly purged of the McGovernite spirit,” Podhoretz wrote. “It pains to me [sic] to admit this, but I would estimate that there is now more isolationist sentiment in Republican than in Democratic ranks.” Lieberman argued that in many ways, the 2000 ticket of which he was a part was more hawkish than its Republican counterpart.

Since then–really, since the end of 2002–the Democrats have turned hard to the left on foreign policy, with Lieberman a rare dissenting voice. The Connecticut senator praised President Bush for his Knesset speech last week, and said that Bush’s criticism of those who advocate appeasement applies to Obama, whether the president meant it to or not.

In his most devastating criticism, Lieberman noted that Obama favors talks without preconditions with anti-American dictators in North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, while taking an antagonistic approach toward democratic allies in South Korea, Colombia and Iraq, opposing trade deals with the first two and threatening to withdraw U.S. military support from the last.

It’s reminiscent of John Kerry*, the Democrats’ 2004 nominee, who traipsed about the country denouncing America’s allies as a “coalition of the bribed and the coerced” while promising to subject American foreign policy to a “global test.” Hardly anyone remembers it now, but Lieberman actually endorsed Kerry. How could he?

We may never know. We thought about putting the question to Lieberman after the lecture, but instead we decided to ask him about the 2000 nominee. Two years after that election, we noted, Lieberman’s erstwhile running mate was delivering angry anti-Iraq rants to MoveOn.org. What, we asked, happened to Al Gore?

Lieberman’s answer: “Damned if I know.”

Considering Al’s many twists and turns over the last 20 years–and where he goes, so goes the center of gravity of his party, sad to say–that’s really the question, isn’t it?