A heated debate occurred on Friday's "Inside Washington" when the subject of Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) imminent retirement arose.
After Charles Krauthammer praised Lieberman for being "probably the last of a breed that began with Truman and Kennedy and Scoop Jackson," PBS's Mark Shields attacked the long-term senator for supporting John McCain for president in 2008 (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Lieberman is probably the last of a breed that began with Truman and Kennedy and Scoop Jackson and to an extent Pat Moynihan who were the classic Cold War liberals, committed to a liberal stance on domestic issues. For instance, Lieberman is the one who was, helped to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell passed in the lame duck session, and yet he was a firm believer in a strong defense. He was also a believer in the war in Iraq, and when all his Democratic colleagues went into the weeds and hid in the dark days, he stood and he supported the surge in 2006, which ultimately brought us a measure of success in Iraq. I think he was a man principled in what he believed on domestic and foreign affairs and he will be missed.
MARK SHIELDS: Let's get one thing very candid about Joe Lieberman right now. He did something that nobody has done in politics since John Bell Williams of Mississippi and Albert Watson of South Carolina when Barry Goldwater ran in 1964 and they were Democrats. He broke with his Party and endorsed the other Party's candidate. He not only did that, he appeared at the convention. Scoop Jackson never did that. Scoop Jackson supported the Democrat. Pat Moynihan never did that. He not only did it, he was seeking the vice presidential nomination of the Republican Party. So, I mean, this was a, made himself a man without a Party and without a following, and he could not win a primary.
COLBY KING: Adam Clayton Powell supported Dwight Eisenhower, too, and surprised a lot of Democrats. I, I’m not, I understand your point that this may have been a self- serving decision on Lieberman’s part. I think it was a matter of sticking up for a friend.
KRAUTHAMMER: But it’s an interesting critique when people are saying how hyper-partisan everyone is, how people have lost their independence that you would attack a guy simply because he endorsed the other side…
SHIELDS: I am not saying, attacking him. I’m saying…
KRAUTHAMMER: …on an issue…
SHIELDS: he ceased being a Democrat.
KRAUTHAMMER: …on which he believed. Yes. So what? He was an American.
SHIELDS: He had to fight and run in a Democratic primary. Did I deny his American citizenship? He is a wonderful American, he’s an admirable American, he’s a lovable American, but he ceased to be a Democrat.
KRAUTHAMMER: And that to you is a damning thing for his life.
SHIELDS: You have to be in the Democratic Party to be a nominee of the Democratic Party.
KRAUTHAMMER: We are talking about a matter of principle, and I think it’s rather different than being a Party…
SHIELDS: Was it different for Albert Watson and John Bell Williams when they endorsed Barry Goldwater on civil rights?
As usual, Krauthammer was making an excellent point.
For the past several years, the Left have been complaining about a lack of bipartisanship in politics. One could make the case that a member of one Party supporting a member of the other Party in a presidential race is the ultimate act of bipartisanship.
But as has been noted by conservatives for years, bipartisanship to a liberal means a Republican defecting. When Democrats do it, it's treason.
Makes you wonder what tune Shields will be singing if a Republican endorses Obama's reelection in less than two years.