CT Democrats consider “censuring” Sen. Lieberman

Because there’s a price to pay for party disloyalty, you know:

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Democrats, angry that Sen. Joe Lieberman is campaigning for the Republican presidential candidate and criticizing his own party’s nominee, agreed Wednesday to circulate a resolution to censure the veteran politician but won’t consider acting on it until after Election Day.

The state party’s central committee Wednesday voted to send copies of the resolution to every Democratic town committee in the state. The resolution condemns Lieberman for speaking at the Republicans’ convention and backing John McCain.

Party officials say the group plans to get input from the town officials and revisit the issue in December.

“If you have someone who says they’re a Democrat, who is registered as a Democrat and is a national figure supporting a candidate who is opposed to all the ideals and beliefs and positions that we hold as Democrats, he’s diluting, in my opinion, the meaning of our party,” said Audrey Blondin, a 30-year party veteran, before the meeting.

Lieberman was re-elected to the Senate as an independent after losing the Democratic primary in 2006 to businessman Ned Lamont. While he calls himself an “independent Democrat” in the Senate, he remains a registered Democrat and has said he has no plans to change his party affiliation.


Blondin said Lieberman’s speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he praised McCain and criticized Democrat Barack Obama, convinced her that state Democrats need to take a stand.

“Our point is not that Joe should in some way be prohibited from supporting McCain or speaking at the National Republican Convention. That’s not the issue,” Blondin said. “The issue is, he’s a Democrat. And Joe, in our opinion, needs to reconsider membership in our party.”

Lieberman’s response?

“Honestly, I thought that was the kind of thing that happened only in the former Soviet Union. I understand that people are unhappy, but, you know, I’m doing something that I really believe,” Lieberman told WICH-AM. “I thought in this country you don’t get punished for that. So, I hope that in the end, my colleagues will understand and life will go on either way.”

At least one prominent state Democrat hasn’t completely lost his mind. Democratic State Central Committee member James D. Diamond wrote today in the Hartford Courant:

Such a rebuke should follow a serious breach of the public trust — such as an official convicted of a serious crime. And so, what was Sen. Lieberman’s crime that warrants this censure? He gave a speech at the Republican National Convention praising Republican John McCain and criticizing Democrat Barack Obama. And although this speech caused many Democrats to be justifiably upset, the speech was not a hateful speech nor did it provoke Americans to resort to violence. It was not a speech that could, in some way, be deemed to threaten national security. It offended Connecticut Democrats, however, because Sen. Lieberman is, well, a registered Democrat and because his career was built on many years of support from the party faithful. Lieberman has further angered this group by “actively campaigning” for McCain.

I wonder where my fellow Democratic leaders were with their expression of outrage and calls for censure two short years ago when the Democratic state senator from Bridgeport, Ernest Newton, went to prison for accepting bribes or three years before that, when the Democratic mayor of Bridgeport, Joseph Ganim, was sent to prison for extortion and racketeering. No resolution calling for censure followed those egregious criminal acts.

The most effective, tried and true American remedy for speech that makes your blood boil is more speech, not censorship. Or, in the more eloquent words written by Justice Louis Brandeis in Whitney v. California, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” Brandeis believed that citizens have a vital obligation to take part in the governing process and that if unpopular views are squelched, it cramps freedom and in the long run strangles democratic processes. Thus, free speech is not an abstract value, but a key element that lies at the heart of a democratic society.

Sadly, I’m afraid Mr. Diamond is a minority member of the Democratic party as far as that goes, when you consider the Obama campaign’s tactics used to try and silence critics, as well as how far Democrats will go to knock an unflattering documentary of one of their former presidents off the air.

I can understand the frustration in having a member of your party who doesn’t always “act like” a member of it. But in the case of Lieberman, he’s a solid liberal on domestic issues. It’s his foreign policy views that get him in trouble with Democrats. On the other hand, you’ve got Republican turned Independent (former) Senator Lincoln Chafee (RI) who endorsed Obama back in February, who co-founded the “Republicans for Obama” group, who called Gov. Palin a “cocky wacko” a couple of weeks ago – he was not a reliable Republican in any shape, form, or fashion, but I don’t recall any serious-minded prominent Republican calling for his censure. They wanted him to leave the party, sure, but censure? No.

I suspect Lieberman will have a better chance of being censured if McCain is elected, because he’ll be seen as having “helped” that effort. If Obama gets elected, maybe they’ll cut Lieberman a break. As if he cares either way.

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