The Importance of Being Lieberman

I used to have mixed feelings about Joe Lieberman. He wasn’t the most electric of presidential candidates and sometimes he tended to the sanctimonious – the Holy Joe thing. But I am increasingly becoming convinced he is the indispensable man in the US Congress, indeed in the entirety of our government, a welcome whiff of integrity in a morass of group think, self interest and outright dishonesty.

Perhaps it’s his independent status, but where freedom of thought is called for, usually it’s Lieberman who is the first to step forward. Most recently we have seen this in two key areas – healthcare and the controversy surrounding the actions of Nidal Hasan.

Regarding healthcare, Joe Lieberman holds within his hands the ability to block a piece of legislation that could be disastrous for our country, a bill constructed out of the most blatant partisan know-nothingism. Of course, his enemies will cry that his opposition stems from the presence of insurance companies in his state, but I think we all know that Joe Lieberman is well beyond that at this point - and not just because he is 67 but because of who he is. From Bloomberg:

Donald W. Greenberg, associate professor of politics at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, said Democrats need Lieberman a lot more than he needs them.

“He feels now that he’s secure,” Greenberg said in an interview. “His history has always been as a social liberal. There are lots of issues where he might bolt the party, but you wouldn’t think this is the one. I do think he believes sincerely that this is very dangerous for the economy.”

Believes sincerely? How’s that for a member of the US Congress, moving about in the world of the Murthas, Rangels, Reids and Dodds, who probably don’t believe sincerely that they put on their own socks in the morning?

And who was the first up to call for a congressional investigation of the Ft. Hood disaster? Joe Lieberman, of course. Were we surprised? Again of course, not. Not any longer. Lieberman knew immediately that the most important problem to emerge from that tragedy was to understand as completely as we could why a man like Dr. Hasan could have been allowed to serve in our military.

When you think about it, it’s amazing how much we need Joe Lieberman at this point in our history.

If this short piece sounds like a campaign speech, well, in a way it is. Coming back to my lede, I mentioned how I used to have mixed feelings about Joe Lieberman, how he ran a flat Presidential campaign. (He wasn’t particularly scintillating as a Vice-Presidential candidate either.) But maybe that’s the point. Maybe what’s called for in a great political campaigner – the ability to lie and exaggerate to attract the masses – is precisely what is NOT called for in a great political leader – honesty and courage.

I will ask you one final question. Who would you rather see in the presidency today at this time of financial and international crisis, Barack Obama or Joe Lieberman?