The Senator of Connecticut will not run in 2012 after years of senility.
Lieberman looks at his withering penis.
In 2000, back when I thought voting still mattered, Lieberman was on the presidential ticket with Al Gore. They seemed a sensible pair at the time. Gore wasn’t the self-anointed environmental savior yet, and Lieberman wasn’t senile. The biggest knock against Lierberman, it seemed to my Freshman brain, was that he operated in something approaching slow motion.
Ultimately, I threw my vote toward Ralph Nader: a vote that would have gone to Al Gore if I hadn’t been exposed to Nader at an event. Call it disaffection or a protest vote, call it what you will–the reality is that I was quite simply ahead of my own curve at the time and, as it turns out, Lieberman’s. My Freshman self had had about enough of the two-party system, which Nader helped to crystallize in my mind. For the first time I understood that not much changes from one party to another in Congressional and presidential elections.
Then I freaked out and became a Republican: a fiscal Republican (a now nearly-extinct political animal whose last true specimen would have been Barry Goldwater, though Ron Paul will do). Fiscal Republicanism, or Fiscal Conservatism, now involves exponential growth of the military budget and slashing social programs. Even during those deranged days of my flirtation with Republicanism, I remained a committed social liberal.
I came to my senses around the time George Bush started ramping up for war in Iraq, and voted for John Kerry in 2004. In 2008, I voted for Obama–which, with the benefit of hindsight, was a vote for a conservative. Thereafter I reacquainted myself with my self from 2000 and we became friends again. No longer will I be voting for either party.
What is the point in this biographical digression? Well, Lieberman suffered from a sort of derangement that mirrored my own.
After his loss in the 2000 elections, he returned to his Senatorial duties. 9/11 rolls around and suddenly Lieberman’s long-standing military hawkishness takes on a new dimension: he becomes a vocal proponent of the War on Terrorism. Fast forward six years and Lieberman endorses McCain over their shared commitment to the War on Terrorism. He starts stumping for McCain and pissing off Democrats left and right, in government, his home state and across the country.
This was only the prelude to Lieberman’s schizophrenic political philosophy, if one can even call it a philosophy. It was more of an execution of personal goals toward self-realization: something typically seen in the aftermath of a self-help guru’s instruction.
In 2006, Democrats run anti-war activist and businessman Ned Lamont in the Connecticut primaries. Lamont beats Lieberman. The experience of the primary and the loss must have caused some sort of nervous breakdown in Lieberman. He emerged from the defeat defiant–as if the umbilical cord tethering the Senator to reality had been cut. Like Caligula, Lieberman fell ill (symbolically) and emerged with a Caligula-like ‘immovable rigor.’
Here is a sample of Lieberman’s immovable rigor:
“For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand.”
What Lieberman did next is well known: He declared himself an Independent, ran against Lamont and Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger and won. Once again the senior Senator of Connecticut, Lieberman struck a deal allowing him to caucus with the Democrats while voting as he pleased on policy. But, Lieberman was no Bernie Sanders (the other Independent roving the Senate chamber). He attempted to hold the entire country hostage during the healthcare debate because of his ties to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
That is immovable rigor. But why? Promises to lobbyists? Objections on philosophical grounds? One can never know with Lieberman. He has the fragmented mind of a true schizophrenic and the last decade is the pudding.
But we’re not done with the Lieberman narrative.
On June 19th of last year, Lieberman introduced the bill “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010,” colloquially known as the “Internet Kill Switch Bill.” Lieberman authored the bill with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Thomas Carper (D-DE). The bill would give the President emergency powers over the internet in the time of a national emergency: specifically, the power to shut down internet service as a pre-emptive measure against would-be cyberterrorists. Lieberman stressed that the motive is economic and infrastructural in nature.
Lieberman’s bill makes me wonder if he ever considered the possibility that if the President were given the power or the symbolic key to shut down the internet (which seems rather impossible anyway), wouldn’t cyberterrorists and hackers redirect their efforts to hijacking that power? It also seems obvious that Lieberman didn’t consider that the disintegration of flesh and its fusion with metal in a bomb’s explosion is higher on the list of terrorist objectives than internet strikes.
This bill is instructive in how Lieberman sees the internet: not as some revolutionary vehicle for free speech, expression and organization, but as an economic tool that must be maintained to ensure pre-eminence in the global economy. Maybe Islamic terrorists and other cyber wankers are trying to cripple the internet–but there is no central mainframe. It cannot simply be turned off, as far as I know. (Readers, please enlighten me if I am wrong.)
As if this cavalier and autocratic attitude weren’t a powerful enough parting gesture, Lieberman positioned himself early on as a vocal critic of WikiLeaks. But, vocal criticism was not enough for Lieberman. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Lieberman used, or rather abused, his power to make inquiries into the services provided to WikiLeaks by Amazon, Paypal, Mastercard and Visa, applying political pressure to get these companies to drop WikiLeaks from their servers and accounts.
What gives one man a right to single-handedly force his point-of-view on an entire populace, indeed, on the entire world (as WikiLeaks is global)? A man cut from the mold of Caligula, I tell you. A man with ‘immovable rigor.’ A deranged and schizophrenic autocrat. Caligula reborn.
This modern-day Caligula believes that The New York Times should be investigated to see if they’ve broken the Espionage Act (of 1917) in publishing WikiLeaks diplomatic cable leaks. As a lawyer, he must know that publishing leaked documents is not a crime according to the Supreme Court: both The New York Times and Daniel Ellsberg were vindicated in court after being taken to trial over the publishing of “The Pentagon Papers.”
Glenn Greenwald said it best in his Salon article “Joe Lieberman Emulates Chinese Dictators.”
“That Joe Lieberman is abusing his position as Homeland Security Chairman to thuggishly dictate to private companies which websites they should and should not host — and, more important, what you can and cannot read on the Internet — is one of the most pernicious acts by a U.S. Senator in quite some time… Lieberman literally wants to dictate — unilaterally — what you can and cannot read on the Internet, to prevent Americans from accessing documents that much of the rest of the world is freely reading… The Internet, of course, is rendering decrepit would-be petty tyrants like Lieberman impotent and obsolete.”
Lieberman was never able to become President himself, so he assumed an air of dictatorial power in the Senate, especially in 2010. He introduced a bill, the SHIELD Act, into the Senate along with John Ensign and Scott Brown to amend the Espionage Act to allow for the prosecution of organizations like WikiLeaks.
But deranged autocrats never quit. So, why is Lieberman leaving the Senate?
One guess is that Lieberman knew he’d lose. And for Lieberman there must be more honor in quitting than losing. His Ego would not allow his Id such a defeat.