Joe Lieber­man, pa­triot

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

This will prob­a­bly kill his ca­reer, but I rise to praise Sen. Joe Lieber­man, the in­de­pen­dent Demo­crat from Con­necti­cut. In a speech two weeks ago be­fore Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity’s School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, Mr. Lieber­man said, “Since re­tak­ing Congress in Novem­ber 2006, the top for­eign pol­icy pri­or­ity of the Demo­cratic Party has not been to ex­pand the size of our mil­i­tary for the war on ter­ror or to strengthen our democ­racy pro­mo­tion ef­forts in the Mid­dle East or to pre­vail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to aban­don the demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment there, and to hand a de­feat to Pres­i­dent Bush.”

Dic­ de­fines “pa­triot” this way: “a per­son who loves, sup­ports, and de­fends his or her coun­try and its in­ter­ests with de­vo­tion.” Key words are “de­fends his or her coun­try and its in­ter­ests with de­vo­tion.” Joe Lieber­man is a pa­triot.

Is it in Amer­ica’s in­ter­est to lose in Iraq? Is it in Amer­ica’s in­ter­est not to have a strong enough mil­i­tary — in per­son­nel and in weapons — to de­fend us against the myr­iad threats con­fronting the coun­try now and those that will likely con­front it in the near fu­ture? Is it in Amer­ica’s in­ter­est to see Demo­cratic politi­cians ded­i­cated to mak­ing a lame duck pres­i­dent a dead duck, not sup­port­ing him in any way for par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal rea­sons just to win the White House?

Mr. Lieber­man doesn’t think so, but he stands vir­tu­ally alone among lead­ing mem­bers of his party.

If you con­sider his­tory, there were many Democrats who sup­ported a vig­or­ous for­eign pol­icy to pro­tect Amer­i­can lib­er­ties and en­cour­age them in other coun­tries. Those Democrats rarely, if ever, crit­i­cized a pres­i­dent of ei­ther party for his for­eign poli­cies and for­mer pres­i­dents mostly held their tongues on crit­i­ciz­ing suc­ces­sors. Those days are gone. The late Sen. Henry Martin “Scoop” Jack­son, a Demo­crat from Wash­ing­ton state, was among the last of the mod­ern lead­ers of his party to be­lieve such things. Jack­son, who died in 1983, was awarded the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom posthu­mously in 1984. At the awards cer­e­mony, Ron­ald Rea­gan said: “Scoop Jack­son was con­vinced that there’s no place for par­ti­san­ship in for­eign and de­fense pol­icy. He used to say, ‘In mat­ters of na­tional se­cu­rity, the best pol­i­tics is no pol­i­tics.’ His sense of bi­par­ti­san­ship was not only nat­u­ral and com­plete; it was coura­geous. He wanted to be pres­i­dent, but I think he must have known that his out­spo­ken ideas on the se­cu­rity of the na­tion would de­prive him of the chance to be his party’s nom­i­nee in 1972 and ‘76. Still, he would not cut his con­vic­tions to fit the pre­vail­ing style. I’m deeply proud, as he would have been, to have Jack­son Democrats serve in my ad­min­is­tra­tion. I’m proud that some of them have found a home here.”

One searches in vain for sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments among lead­ers of to­day’s Demo­cratic Party. When Jack­son died, Sen. Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han, an­other Demo­crat of the old school, said of his friend and col­league: “Henry Jack­son is proof of the old be­lief in the Ju­daic tra­di­tion that at any mo­ment in his­tory good­ness in the world is pre­served by the deeds of 36 just men who do not know that this is the role the Lord has given them. Henry Jack­son was one of those men.”

In his Johns Hop­kins speech, Mr. Lieber­man said of Se­nate col­leagues who voted against his res­o­lu­tion to de­clare Iran’s revo­lu­tion­ary Quds Force a for­eign ter­ror­ist en­tity (pri­vately telling him they agreed but don’t trust Mr. Bush): “There is some­thing pro­foundly wrong — some­thing that should trou­ble all of us — when we have elected Demo­cratic of­fi­cials who seem more wor­ried about how the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion might re­spond to Iran’s mur­der of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is mur­der­ing our troops.” Ex­actly. God bless Joe Lieber­man, a true pa­triot.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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