Working For Lieberman
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
What a sad spectacle these last few days, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and even Al Gore have been falling all over themselves in condemning their old friend Joe Lieberman as he dares to run as an independent for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut.
Their criticism of Mr. Lieberman and their endorsement of Ned Lamont is for one purpose only, and that is to take the side of the anti-war, “get out now” crowd that is in control of the Howard Dean wing of the once-great Democratic Party.
It’s sad to see the party of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, and Scoop Jackson rushing to the left so fast on foreign policy that it makes your head swim.
Remember in 1961 when JFK called on our nation to “pay any price, bear any burden, support our friends and oppose any foe in the defense of freedom”? Today, the Lamont-Dean Democratic Party will pay no price, will not bear a burden, nor will it support the defense of freedom in the new fledging, flawed, and fragile experiments in democracy of Iraq and Afghanistan. The immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq will have dire consequences for freedom throughout the Middle East and would be a disaster for Afghanistan in central Asia.
It’s particularly hypocritical for Mr. Clinton and Mr. Kerry, as they both supported the entry of American troops into Iraq. For them to drop political poison on their former vice-presidential candidate is pathetic and sad.
It’s true that I’m a Republican and that I’m working to elect Republicans so as to maintain majority control of the House and Senate. I’ve been to Pennsylvania, Montana, Florida, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio so far this season, and I am national chairman of the Michael Steele for U.S. Senate campaign. Mr. Steele has an outstanding opportunity to represent the state of Maryland and is the only African-American Republican candidate for Senate in the whole nation.
Despite my partisan credentials, I’m announcing my intentions to go to Connecticut in September to work for and raise funds for Mr. Lieberman. He is running as an independent, but he has announced he’ll join the Democratic caucus. When Joe called, I jokingly told him I’d be happy to come to Connecticut and speak for him or against him, whichever would do the most good. I’ll be making joint appearances in Connecticut with him and his wife, Hadassah, in the very near future.
I believe in the Lincolnian ideal that you serve your party best by serving your country first, and I can’t think of a better way of serving our nation than by re-electing Mr. Lieberman to the U.S. Senate. As a Republican, I don’t want the Democratic Party to lose a Scoop Jackson Democrat and become isolationist in the face of Islamic fundamentalism with its message of jihad, hatred, and blood libel against America and Israel.
Vice President Cheney was right to say that the election of Mr. Lamont is a terrible signal to those who mean us harm. He was correct to say that we are at war with Al-Qaeda and they’re watching what we do. For us to walk out of Iraq as we did in Somalia, Lebanon, and Vietnam would be a terrible signal to the world that the West won’t keep its commitments to the cause of freedom and democracy. It would turn Iraq into the megalomania of President Ahmadinejad of Iran.
To criticize American foreign policy or to criticize this administration is not unpatriotic. I’ve been critical of the rush to war. Sen. John McCain has been a frequent critic of the lack of a strategic vision and too few troops on the ground to defend the borders. But for those who supported this war to dump on a man of integrity and honor with world-class civil rights credentials is hypocrisy of the lowest type and does hurt our nation’s foreign policy.
Mr. Lieberman does not need me to defend his record, but having worked with him as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the late 1980s and early ‘90s on issues of affordable housing, home-ownership opportunities for low-income families, enterprise zones for urban, and rural America, and access to capital for men and women of color, I believe his re-election to the U.S. Senate is necessary to expanding the war on poverty by including private enterprise.
For all these reasons and more, I look forward to helping re-elect Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Mr. Kemp is founder and chairman of Kemp Partners.