It’s been a while for Sen. Joe Lieberman, but tonight, he’s Democrats’ man of the hour. The Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut drove the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from sponsorship to the final push across the finish line in a 65-31 vote today, winning over liberal hearts, at least for the moment.”He’s certainly one of my heroes today,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “His determination, his tenacity has kept this going all year. This would have not happened without Sen. Lieberman.”
Lieberman, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, has felt the ire of liberals over the last few years. An antiwar political newcomer, Ned Lamont, toppled him in his 2006 Democratic primary. Lieberman emerged victorious in the general election, running as an independent, and promising to work across party lines to draw down the war in Iraq.
Two years later, Lieberman enraged liberals again, endorsing pro-war Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president in 2008, even taking the stage at the 2008 Republican Convention.
He eventually started skipping his party’s weekly caucus meetings.
But today, Shabbos, Lieberman – a devout Jew – became the left’s favorite guy.
Whether his moment will translate into electoral support for Lieberman is another question.
“I have no idea. I really don’t,” Lieberman told POLITICO after the vote. “This is something I’ve been working on for 17 years.”
Public polls taken two months ago show he is extremely unpopular with the Democratic base.
Running as a Republican looks more promising for Lieberman. A Public Policy Polling survey from late October put Lieberman’s approval rating at a dismal 33 percent. Only 24 percent of Democratic voters supported him, while 48 percent of Republicans looked upon him favorably.
“I thought he did a very good job on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, he deserves credit and praise for it,” said George Jepsen, the Democratic Attorney General-elect in Connecticut. “I don’t think it’s viable for him to run two years from now as a Democrat. I think he would lose a Democratic primary.”
Jepsen, who supported Lamont, said even the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy won’t help him with the Democratic base if he runs in 2012.
“He supported John McCain for president,” Jepsen said. “Little things like that, you know?”