Joe Lieberman dies at 82; Former Democratic vice presidential candidate turned independent, Jewish political hero; “The Last of the Moderates”

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman died Wednesday at the age of 82 as a result of a fall, according to his family.

He was “the last of the moderates,” said conservative radio host Mark Levin.

Lieberman was in the news just days ago after he criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for calling for early elections in Israel. He called Schumer’s move “outrageous” and a “mistake” amid Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists.

Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Lieberman had a distinguished career. He attended Yale University and studied law, served as attorney general of Connecticut and won election to the state legislature.

As his life progressed, he became more religious and was the only Orthodox Jewish member of the Senate during his twenty-four years in office. He observed the Jewish Sabbath and even wrote a book: The gift of calm (2009), about its significance. When voting took place on Saturdays, he would walk to the Capitol from his home in Georgetown and a colleague would cast his vote for him.

Lieberman was a New Deal liberal who combined an enthusiasm for civil rights, social welfare, and liberal social policy. However, he did not support gay marriage and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, defending the importance of traditional families in raising children.

He grew as a moral voice in the Senate and was among the Democrats most vocal in opposing President Bill Clinton’s conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair, although he voted against impeaching Clinton in the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial.

When then-Vice President Al Gore (D) ran for president in 2000, Lieberman was a natural choice as a candidate: his criticism of Clinton would allow Gore to put some moral distance between himself and the troubled incumbent.

Lieberman’s nomination was also a milestone in American history, as it was the first time a Jewish person was considered for the second-highest office in the country, with the potential to rise even further.

Gore and Lieberman won the popular vote but failed in the Electoral College after the disputed recount in Florida and the Supreme Court’s decision Bush v. Gore (2000) secured victory for Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

But after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Lieberman became a key ally of the Bush administration as he forcefully advocated for the war against al-Qaeda.

Drawing on his experiences as a Jew and supporter of Israel, Lieberman emphasized the need to confront terrorists both militarily and ideologically. He also backed Bush in the Iraq War and remained a steadfast supporter of that effort as it grappled with a bloody counterinsurgency.

That led to a fierce backlash against Lieberman in the Democratic Party. He failed to gain traction as a presidential candidate in 2004, but in 2006 he faced a major challenge: the so-called “Netroots” of left-wing online activists targeted Lieberman’s defeat and supported businessman Ned Lamont on an anti-war platform.

But after losing the primary, Lieberman became an independent, betting that Connecticut voters still supported him – and he won.

In 2007, Lieberman endorsed Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for president, endorsing the veteran lawmaker due to his support of the War on Terror.

Lieberman then founded No Labels, an independent group that seeks moderate, nonpartisan alternatives to traditional candidates. He praised President Donald Trump for his pro-Israel policies and attended the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, telling Breitbart News that supporting the Jewish state should not be a partisan issue.

He also performed Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot 125 multiple times. In 2019, he told Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow that President Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was “critically important.” He explained: “The fact that [the president is] “Unconventional” allows him to do something that presidents of both parties before him probably thought was the right thing but never did.”

Lieberman also told Marlow in 2019 that Democrats’ shift to the “far left” would hurt them: “There’s a difference between a traditional liberal Democrat and a far left Democrat, and this is not a far left country,” he said. He added that Democrats had failed a “moral test” by refusing to punish anti-Semitism within their ranks when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN ) allowed serious consequences for anti-Jewish statements to be avoided.

He is survived by his wife Hadassah, his former wife Elizabeth Haas, and children and grandchildren.

Joel B. Pollak is editor-in-chief of Breitbart News and host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius He is the author of the current e-book “The Virtues of Trump: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency“Now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither free nor fair: The 2020 US presidential election. He is the winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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