I have mixed feelings about the departure of Senator Joe Lieberman from public life. I’ve had fierce disagreements with him in recent years, especially in the area of foreign policy–especially in the middle east, where he is an ardent Likudnik. He has taken positions that are more reflective of what he believes to be Israel’s best interests–in favor of bombing Iran, for example–than they are of U.S. national security goals (although I do believe he actually thinks Israel’s interests and ours are the same). His support for the dramatically unpresidential John McCain against Barack Obama was execrable. Indeed, his willingness to attach himself to McCain’s hip during foreign jaunts diminished his stature as a Senator.
But I’ve never known Lieberman to be rude or mean-spirited. I’ve always known him to be a good guy–and on the vast majority of non-foreign policy issues, he usually took positions that were carefully reasoned and sometimes courageous. His work on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was rightly celebrated. But his efforts to build a bipartisan energy bill–with a price on carbon emissions–really was heroic last year. I hope he’ll continue to press that issue in his last Congressional session; I hope he’ll be able to rope Lindsey Graham–and perhaps even crotchety McCain–back into the fold, as well as other Republicans who must realize that reducing our dependence on foreign oil has become an absolute economic and national defense necessity, even if they doubt the obvious data on climate change.
The resurrection of the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham energy bill would be a fine tribute to the intelligence and sanity that Lieberman has brought to the Senate on issues other than foreign policy. And, despite our differences, I wish him well in the future.