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Joe Lieberman's legacy

The Lieberman Legacy

From guest writer, Frank Marafiote, founder and co-editor of the Hillary Clinton Quarterly.

During the next few weeks and months, the Senate and House will put the finishing touches on the first health care reform legislation ever to become law in this country. For those of us who still believe that reform means providing low-cost or no-cost health care to poor and lower-income Americans, the legislation is likely to be a huge disappointment.

But it is a start. Over time it will be improved upon, just as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other significant government programs have been modified and essentially made better in the years since they first became law.

Which brings me to Joe Lieberman.

Five, ten, twenty years from now, Joe Lieberman’s moment in the national spotlight will be over and long forgotten. In 45 years of closely following American politics, I can’t recall a single politician — certainly no statesman — whose moment of greatness came from saying “no” to a domestic program that ultimately improved the life of the American people.

Lieberman’s legacy will be that of the senator who almost killed health care reform, and for the most self-interested reasons. He will only be remembered when historians and political scientists study the history of this legislation. He will be a footnote somewhere.

For a man who had such great potential, the Lieberman legacy is a sad one. It must includes his failure as a vice presidential candidate, his failure as a presidential candidate, and his failure as a Democratic senator from his home state of Connecticut. That his own party disowned him says a great deal about the man.

In this country we remember the doers, the dreamers, the men and women who say “yes,” who put their shoulders to the wheel, and move this nation forward.

Joe Lieberman had a chance to be among that elite group of people. He won’t because he put his ego, his bank account, and his own security ahead of the interests of the people he was supposed to serve.

He will pay the ultimate price in well-deserved obscurity.

Even as a state senator, for Lieberman it’s always been about the money.