opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Mark Shields
Mark Shields
6 Feb 2016
Cracking the Code of Campaign-Speak

"Do you ever get the feeling," asked humorist Robert Orben, "that the only reason we have elections is to … Read More.

30 Jan 2016
Is There Only One True Progressive?

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. In our polarized politics, the … Read More.

23 Jan 2016
The Man Who Drowned Democracy With 'Sewer Money'

Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. This week marked the anniversary of … Read More.

If You Could Change One Thing, Al Gore


Based only on a strong hunch, I'm willing to bet that if Al Gore could change one decision in his public life, it would be that, as the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, he would have asked then-U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida — not Joe Lieberman of Connecticut — to be his vice presidential running-mate.

Think about it: Gore lost the White House because, by the "official" count, he lost Florida by 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast. Graham, who never lost a Florida election and was twice elected the state's governor and three times U.S. senator (and who had the sense and strength in 2002 to oppose the U.S. going to war against Iraq), would undoubtedly have guaranteed Gore's winning the Sunshine State's 25 electoral votes and the White House. A Gore-Graham 2000 ticket would have meant, simply, that there would never have been either a President George W. Bush or a Vice President Dick Cheney.

But Gore chose Lieberman in 2000, in large part because on Sept. 3, 1998, Lieberman had become the first Democratic senator to publicly chastise President Bill Clinton for Clinton's "sordid' and "immoral" misconduct with Monica Lewinsky. As Clinton's White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart, explained to a resistant Clinton on the day Gore picked Lieberman, "I think this is saying 'screw you' to Bill Clinton."

In 2004, as his party's most recent VP nominee, Lieberman was treated as a serious presidential candidate. That January in New Hampshire, I followed around Sen. Chris Dodd, who had put his own White House ambitions on hold to back his Connecticut colleague, as he campaigned long and hard in union meetings and social clubs in support of Lieberman, who ended up in fifth place with just 9 percent of the vote.

So it was a little surprising in 2007 when Dodd did launch his own long-shot presidential campaign that Lieberman did not even wait until the Iowa caucuses before breaking party ranks to endorse Republican John McCain.

In defense of Lieberman's scorning of Dodd, it was argued that Dodd — who had energetically backed Lieberman against a strong anti-Iraq war opponent in the 2006 Connecticut Senate primary — did endorse the primary winner, Ned Lamont, in the fall election.

Another Lieberman backer was the first-term Illinois senator who was recruited by Lieberman to be principal speaker at the pre-primary Democratic state dinner.

At the event, Barack Obama, too, endorsed Joe Lieberman.

Joe Lieberman in 2008 was no sunshine soldier in the McCain army. He endorsed Sarah Palin, addressed the GOP convention and campaigned across the continent with high-minded words such as: "The fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Sen. Obama really raises the question why. And it suggests the difference between these two candidates." Just a little guilt by association.

In 1964, John Bell Williams, then an 18-term Democratic House member from Mississippi, deserted his party and endorsed Republican Barry Goldwater for president. After that election, the House Democratic caucus stripped Williams of his seniority.

But after the 2008 election, the "Can't We All Get Along?" spirit of Rodney King seized President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. For the very same act for which Williams had been punished with the loss of his considerable seniority 44 years earlier, Joe Lieberman was "rewarded," over the opposition of Sens. Pat Leahy of Vermont and Tom Harkin of Iowa, with the chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Boy, won't that teach a tough lesson to anyone considering betraying his party?

To watch Senate Democrats and the White House fall over backward to accommodate the mood swings of Joe Lieberman on health care reform is to understand why MSNBC's Joe Scarborough asked Vice President Joe Biden if Obama is liked, but not feared, in the Congress. Biden insisted those who don't fear Obama "are underestimating the steel in this guy's spine."

If you doubt it, just ask Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




5 Comments | Post Comment
Oh yes, Lieberman might just as well squat down and blast it out all over the face of the Democratic Party. He's lovin' it and they're lappin' it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:22 AM
Sir;... There are worse things than not getting elected... Sure; it would have been nice if Mr. Bush had not been elected, and had not run us into war... But such fools, if they hasten the destruction of our dying economy, and rub in our faces what fools we act to the world, and loosen the grip of the right on their guns and on their preference of killing over conversation; then Mr. Bush will have served a noble purpose, even as a clown...Thank God no man as corrupt as Mr. Loserman had a shot at becoming president... I'd give a dozen Gores to anyone who would take Lieberman for free...I'll bet he has millions of democrats wishing they could reach back in time, and take back the vote they cast for him... And that is the problem, as I see it in your article... We give power that we should keep to our civil offices... We should keep the power, and keep the consent to all that goes on, and give only that authority necessary to get our will done...There is one over riding necessity for democracy in this land... We suffer our government, and we suffer the mistake it makes...The govenment after the election is set free to act as it pleases and as we cannot prevent, and it is in the pocket of the wealthy, and it demands an equal price from the poor to act in their interest; so they do not...Democracy would cure all the problems we face...That is the idea of it... Together we have enough eyes to see the future... People seeing only short term gain cannot see past their finger tips...You concern your self over seeing the outcome of an election...May I say, that We let too much of our lives go to waste putting energy into candidates who can not, and will not make a difference... We have a president bound and determined to prove he is a white man to the bankers, and a good old boy to the country folks; and he isn't fooling anyone...When you need a champion, all things to all people isn't hired...Everyone governs to the middle...You must do so to be just...Bending over backwards to please the parasites of our society, the insurance men and the bankers, should be what it appears to be: Political Suicide...There ought to be a law preventing the plunder of the whole people for ever greater profits...Where is it???...Government talks about everything and does nothing, all the while trying to convince the people they are doing all they can, and enough...It is garbage, and some of the human garbage saying the majority of Americans are against the health care bill are right in the facts, and wrong in the figures...There are a whole bunch of people out there who know what may pass does not even touch the problem, and the problem is not just the greed of the rich, but is the inability of our govenment to attack it as immoral, far more immoral than abortion...All we need is the will...Every choice anyone makes is always a moral choice... We are either going to be a society that cares for its own, those who need care, or we will foresake them all to feed the rich another fig...Is this some kind of conundrum here, or does money make it seem so??? Part of the purpose of government is to discern and react to the future before the need becomes dire...Blind with money, all the government can see is no problem.....Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:09 AM
Re: Masako; How graphic of you...Are you sure that letters are your medium???Best...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:10 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney: Not sure at all, but if you got the image, then maybe yes. It is true, you have to admit. Best back atcha and keep up your wonderful commentary. I look forward to it every week. Masako.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Masako
Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:13 PM
Re: Masako;...Merry Christmas...You are on the sunny side of the world; and it makes me wonder why so many reactionaries can all make their living in the dark..It must be where the money is....Perhaps you should try cartoons...I do not disagree with you a bit about Lieberman...I could cut a better man out of a man with a chain saw... Have a good year, and hang in there...Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:15 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Mark Shields
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 8 Feb 2016
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 6 Feb 2016
diane dimond
Diane DimondUpdated 6 Feb 2016

31 Oct 2009 The President Takes the Dover Test

6 Jun 2015 Tap-dancing on Immigration

5 Apr 2013 Honeymoon for a Pope