Former Democratic Senator and Vice Presidential Candidate, Joe Lieberman, Passes Away at the Age of 82

Former Senator Joe Lieberman passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82.

Former U.S. senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, known for his conservative views on foreign policy and unwavering support for the Iraq War, passed away on Wednesday in New York City at the age of 82, according to his family.

Complications after a fall led to his passing.

Senator Lieberman’s family announced that he passed away with his beloved wife, Hadassah, and other family members by his side. They emphasized that his love for God, family, and America remained unwavering throughout his dedicated life of public service.

Lieberman’s rapid transition from being the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket in 2000 as Al Gore’s running mate to endorsing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president in 2008 was a significant political development in the early 2000s. It signaled a shift away from the centrist ideology that had characterized the Democratic Party in the 1990s.

Lieberman consistently championed gay rights, abortion rights, and environmental issues. He even spearheaded a significant bipartisan effort to combat climate change. However, he distinguished himself as the first prominent Democrat to criticize then-President Bill Clinton in 1998 for his involvement with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Additionally, Lieberman played a pivotal role in defeating a public health insurance option during the discussions on the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

“In a time where politicians often seem like carbon copies of each other, Joe Lieberman stood out as a unique individual,” expressed Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on X (formerly known as Twitter). “He was one of a kind, fighting and achieving victories for what he believed was right and for the state he deeply cherished.”

Lieberman’s break with the Democratic Party was primarily driven by his unwavering endorsement of George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq. Despite the initial support from many congressional Democrats for the war, Lieberman persistently stood by it, even as the casualties among American troops and Iraqi civilians skyrocketed and no evidence of the supposed weapons of mass destruction was discovered in Iraq.

In 2015, Lieberman expressed his belief that despite the challenges in Iraq, the world is ultimately in a better state. He stated this during an interview with MSNBC, where he confidently stated that he had no regrets about his support for the war.

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He persistently claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was actively developing weapons of mass destruction. The war resulted in the tragic loss of over 100,000 innocent civilians and nearly 4,500 brave U.S. military personnel.

In 2006, Ned Lamont, a cable industry executive who currently serves as Connecticut’s governor, presented a primary challenge to Joe Lieberman. Lamont’s campaign primarily centered around Lieberman’s stance on the war, which led to Lamont’s victory in the primary by a margin of 10,000 votes. However, Lieberman chose to run for the seat under the “Connecticut for Lieberman” ticket and emerged as the winner, receiving strong support from Republicans. Notably, he secured endorsements from Senator Susan Collins of Maine and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

After winning, Lieberman adopted the label of an “independent Democrat” and maintained his position as a member of the Democratic caucus. However, he stopped attending party lunches following his endorsement of McCain at the 2008 Republican National Convention. This endorsement was rooted in the longstanding friendship between Lieberman and McCain, which was founded on their shared strong stance on foreign policy.

McCain, along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were frequently called the “three amigos” due to their shared beliefs in the importance of robust national defense and American involvement in international affairs.

In a heartfelt statement after Lieberman’s passing, Graham expressed his faith in a compassionate God. However, he humorously added that Lieberman might be getting an earful from John McCain about the current state of affairs.

During his last years in the Senate, Lieberman exerted significant influence through his efforts to eliminate a public health insurance option, a stance that coincidentally supported the interests of the major insurance companies based in his state.

In the autumn of 2009, when Senate leaders were diligently crafting the legislation that would later become the Affordable Care Act, Lieberman made a significant declaration. He firmly stated that he would not endorse any bill that included a public option – a government-operated insurance program that would coexist with private insurers, providing an alternative for those interested. Lieberman reasoned that such an option would result in excessive government control, which would disrupt the insurance market and necessitate additional taxpayer subsidies to sustain its financial stability.

Lieberman wasn’t the only Democrat who opposed the public option, but he was the most outspoken and took the lead in opposition. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader at the time, formed a working group to negotiate with Lieberman. At one point, they seemed to have reached an agreement on an alternative plan that would have allowed certain individuals to enroll in Medicare at the age of 55. However, Lieberman ultimately declared that he wouldn’t support that idea either.

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Reid (who passed away in 2021) was livid, and so were progressive individuals who believed that Lieberman’s opposition was heavily influenced by the significant presence of the insurance industry in Connecticut. Lieberman, who ultimately voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act after conceding, later clarified that Reid had misunderstood his stance.

Lieberman had a significant impact on the creation of two important laws. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, he was among the first senators to advocate for the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security. This proposal eventually came to fruition in 2002 when George W. Bush embraced the idea.

In addition, he collaborated with Collins on drafting legislation that aimed to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prevented gay individuals from openly serving in the U.S. military. This legislation was successfully signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2010.

“We have corrected a mistake,” Lieberman exclaimed triumphantly following the Senate’s vote on the measure. “Today, we have finally brought about justice.”

Joe Lieberman, born in 1942 in Connecticut, grew up in a family that owned a liquor store. While studying at Yale University, Lieberman formed a close friendship with renowned conservative figure William F. Buckley. This alliance would prove important in Lieberman’s early Senate campaign as well as his independent run in 2006. Lieberman also pursued a law degree at Yale and received student deferments from the Vietnam War draft. During his time at the university, he actively participated in the civil rights movement and even traveled to Mississippi to assist in organizing mock elections within local churches.

After a decade in the Connecticut state legislature, he made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1980. However, he didn’t let that setback deter him. In 1982, he successfully ran for the position of the state’s attorney general. His political career continued to thrive, and in 1990, he secured a victory over the liberal Republican Lowell Weicker to become a senator.

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During his time as a senator for Connecticut, Lieberman proved to be a prominent figure in the political realm. He made history as the first major Democrat to oppose Clinton following the disclosure of his affair with Lewinsky. Lieberman went on record to describe the incident as not only inappropriate but also immoral. However, it is worth noting that he ultimately sided with the rest of the Democrats in the Senate and voted against Clinton’s removal from office.

“In a speech delivered in the Senate, Lieberman expressed concern about the harmful impact of certain behaviors on the larger American family, especially on children. He emphasized that these behaviors send a message that can be just as influential as the negative messages portrayed in the entertainment culture.”

In the 2000 presidential election, he was chosen as Al Gore’s running mate, making him the first Jewish candidate from a major party on a national ticket. Their campaign focused on integrity, aiming to separate themselves from the Clinton administration, where Gore had served as vice president. Lieberman frequently highlighted his Jewish faith and later published a book praising the importance of observing the sabbath.

In 2004, he decided to run for president himself, but unfortunately, it didn’t go well. He famously claimed that his fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary was actually a “three-way split decision for third place.”

Lieberman made a comeback in 2023, taking on a leadership role in No Labels. The organization’s main objective is to find a centrist candidate for the presidential election. Despite facing criticism from Democrats who fear that No Labels could inadvertently help Republican Donald Trump win the 2024 election, Lieberman has been actively advocating for the group as its spokesperson.

In a recent interview with CNN, he made it clear that when it comes to choosing between President Joe Biden and Trump, he knows exactly which side he is on.

He expressed his opinion, stating that while he believes Joe Biden has shifted towards the left too much, he would still wholeheartedly support Biden if he were to run against Trump.

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