October 31, 2007

The Problem At #47

The British newspaper, The Telegraph, has a new series out this week on the 100 most influential conservatives and liberals in the United States. As with most lists, the inclusions and rankings make for intriguing debate. Our friends Erick Erickson at Redstate made the list in the 68th position, and Michelle Malkin placed in the 90s. Some may quibble about their placement and their inclusion, but at least they both are recognizably conservative.

That cannot be said for the forty-seventh "conservative" on the list:

47. JOE LIEBERMAN Senator for Connecticut

The only person to make both of our lists. It is easy to forget that Lieberman could very easily have been a Democrat vice-president today if he had not lost so narrowly with Al Gore in 2000. Instead he is a pariah for many Democrats because of his full-throated support for the Iraq war and a bellicose stance against Iran.

He was re-elected for a fourth term in the senate as an ‘Independent Democrat’ in 2006 and holds considerable power in the chamber given the slimness of the Democrats’ majority. He makes the conservative list because he would be a natural Pentagon chief in any Republican administration or a key Capitol Hill ally of a President Giuiliani or a President McCain.

I like Joe Lieberman, but Lieberman is no conservative. His voting record in the last several Congresses puts him squarely in the middle of the Democratic caucus. In the 109th, his record skewed more leftward than Harry Reid and Robert Byrd. In the 108th, Tom Daschle and Evan Bayh joined Reid as more moderate than Lieberman. Thus far in the 110th, when the Left has more control over the agenda, Lieberman has the 12th most liberal voting record in the Senate -- more so than Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton.

Lieberman supports a vigorous national-security policy, but that doesn't make him a conservative -- or at least it shouldn't. Not too long ago in the past, Democrats believed in a strong military and forward strategies to keep threats from American shores. While the Telegraph selection of Lieberman for this list demonstrates how long ago those days are, it doesn't make him a conservative any more than William F Buckley's opposition to the Iraq War makes him a liberal. It just makes Lieberman a liberal who understands the threat of radical Islamist terrorism and its main source in Teheran.

The Telegraph still has two more days to roll out its most influential conservatives. Let's hope Lieberman's inclusion doesn't mean that they've run out of likely candidates.


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