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Joe Lieberman, Unplugged

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Senator Joe Lieberman is my guest today.  I’ll play the interview, just completed, in the first hour and again in the third.

UPDATE:  The transcript is up here.  One exchange:

HH: And if you were to follow the example of Jim Jeffords and cross the aisle, it would end, at least for this Congress, the circus surrounding the defeat by a date certain rules, and all these different bills. Isn’t that enough of an incentive to cross that aisle?

JL: Well, it’s a fair question. My guess is that it wouldn’t change much but the leadership, because the votes would be the same. That would have some effect…look, I’ve got a feeling that I’m carrying a banner for a group of Democrats who believe that you could be, you know, progressive on domestic policy and tough on foreign policy. Unfortunately, a lot of them, most of them are gone now, but I’m talking about Truman and Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey and…

HH: Jack Kennedy.

JL: Jack Kennedy, exactly right, who was the inspiration for my generation to get into politics. So for now, I’m going to stay and fight this fight here. But I’m disappointed with the Democratic Party. I’m deeply disappointed.

HH: Is it possible if this undermining of the effort continues, though, you would reassess that? I understand…

JL: I don’t eliminate the possibility. I’ve said that all along.

HH: Let me ask you one other political question, but a couple more on general things. Would you accept a place on a Giuliani, a Romney or a Thompson ticket if offered to you?

JL: No, I think I got that bug out of my system. But…the national bug, I mean. It’s nice of you to ask, and I don’t think any one of them in their right mind would ask me, but my wife will appreciate that you asked.

HH: Is that an unequivocal no, Senator?

JL: Yeah, that’s unequivocal. Actually, my wife probably would not appreciate that.

HH: (laughing) Okay, let me ask you, when you were the national standard bearer for the Democratic Party, extremely popular in the country at large, with many Republicans, across the whole Democratic Party. Now, the only thing that’s different is the country’s been attacked, we’ve counter-attacked, and now the hard left netroots have risen within the new media.

JL: Yeah.

HH: What happened to your party? What took them from being, you know, a party with two wings to being a party with one wing and Joe Lieberman?

JL: Yeah, this is a danger. And you know, there’s a group within the party, a small group, that’s very activist, very aggressive, very left, and driving the agenda. Obviously, what’s also happened, for the reasons that we talked about before, Hugh, is that the war has generally become unpopular, so now there’s actually a broader political incentive to be against the war. But you know, as I said the other day on the floor, the folks didn’t send us here, they didn’t elect us just so we would work to get reelected. They elected us to be leaders, to protect the country, to defend our values, our freedom. And you know, I think this is a challenge, the likes of which we have not faced for a long, long time. And we’re only going to defeat the challenge if we pull together. Partisanship here has gone crazy, but the worst part of it is that it’s now a significant part of our debate about foreign and defense policy. And who benefits from that? Our enemies. I mean, sometimes around here, people treat each other like members of the other party are the enemy. The Islamist extremists are the enemy.



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