Lieberman: 'Moderately Liberal'?

By Jonathan Darman

Days before he takes the stage in St. Paul, Minn., at the GOP convention, independent Democrat Joe Lieberman's being constantly rewritten on both the left and right. In a New York Times column last Monday, conservative commentator Bill Kristol floated the notion that Lieberman was still in the running to be John McCain's running mate. Lieberman, Kristol said, could acclimate with the McCain era-GOP in spite of having a "moderately liberal voting record."

But conservatives who care more about a candidate's economic orthodoxy than his support of the war in Iraq might have a hard time seeing what's so moderate about Lieberman. In Connecticut, Lieberman has long counted on strong ties to organized labor, the bête noir of movement conservatives. In 2007, according to the National Journal, he supported a liberal economic agenda 76 percent of the time. The National Education Association, the powerful teachers union, gave Lieberman an "A" for 2007, and he supported the interests of the AFL-CIO 84 percent of the time that year.

In 2006, Lieberman won re-election to the Senate after losing his party's primary in part because lunch-pail Democrats in Connecticut's cities stuck with him, even after the state's Democratic Party did not. That year he voted with the interests of Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative tax-watchdog group, only 15 percent of the time. Grover Norquist, ATR's president, has made no secret of his distaste for a McCain-Lieberman ticket and his contempt for Lieberman. After Lieberman spoke out against the Bush tax cuts in 2002, ATR released a press release titled "Joe Lieberman to Taxpayers: Drop Dead."