I don't know who, exactly, thought that Sen. Joe Lieberman was somehow destined to play a major role at one or more of the 2012 political conventions this year, but The Hill's Alexander Bolton is reporting that the fact he hasn't been extended an invitation to either the Republican National Convention in Tampa or the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte is a "major snub."
Why? Because he "played prominent convention roles in the past."
Oh, right! Who could forget that time he was chosen by then-presidential nominee Al Gore to be the vice president, thereby ensuring that he would play a "prominent role" at the Democratic convention? In the years since, of course, Lieberman became a huge supporter of the Iraq War, fell out of favor with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, lost a primary as a result of that falling-out, re-emerged as an Independent, and returned to the Senate. He ended up at the 2008 Republican Convention because he was best buds with John McCain, who was running against Obama, the candidate who had emerged from the crowded field of Democratic contenders because of his specific opposition to the very war Lieberman fervently supported.
All of that practically requires both parties to invite him to their convention this year, right?
Because you can find a strategist to say almost anything for a story, Bolton reached out to a former Gore adviser, in order to make the argument that not being invited to this year's Democratic National Convention is some sort of mistake:
“Even though he’s no longer a member of the Democratic Party, he caucuses with the Senate Democrats and provides a vote for their majority. It would be a good thing to invite him,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who served as a senior adviser to Gore’s campaign. “He doesn’t have to be invited to give a speech. He doesn’t have to have Clinton’s time slot.”
Yes, why not invite a non-Democrat who openly opposed President Barack Obama and who to this day contends that the Obama administration's foreign policy is lily-livered to come to the convention and participate in the renomination of a guy he doesn't like? It almost makes too much sense.
Meanwhile, The Hill reminds us that back in 2008, when he appeared at the Republican National Convention, Lieberman said, “I am here tonight because John McCain’s whole life testifies to a great truth: Being a Democrat or Republican is important, but it is nowhere near as important as being an American.”
If you think about it, that statement is precisely why he's not being invited to this year's Republican National Convention. That's not a truth that anyone in the GOP wants to testify to, and no one wants to be reminded of McCain's 2008 campaign and its maverick ways.
But beyond these perhaps hard-to-discern differences in philosophy, another reason Lieberman is not going to be welcomed at the Republican National Convention is because Lieberman cast a deciding vote to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (one of the few ways in which he differs from McCain on military policy). No one at the Republican Convention is going to want a guy who helped upend "Don't Ask Don't Tell" hanging around, let alone playing some sort of "prominent role."
A political science professor from Rutgers shows up in The Hill's piece to allege that, "Lieberman is a victim of polarization" and is "another person cast aside by people who aren’t interested in centrist views." But Lieberman's not a victim of polarization at all. He was reelected by a majority of Connecticut residents who preferred his "centrist views" to the views of the other candidates in that election -- Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.
And beyond not being cast aside by voters, he was not cast aside by the Democratic leadership in the Senate, who have allowed him to retain his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, rather than a bona fide Democratic senator.
From there, Lieberman has basically been allowed to do and say and support whatever he likes. That's included praising Michele Bachmann, opposing a bill to ban insider trading among members of Congress, and constantly annoying progressive Democrats, for fun.
Give Lieberman some credit. The only peep out of him on this convention issue is this quote: “This is one of the benefits of being an Independent -- you don’t have to go to either convention.”
So, he doesn't sound as though he even wants to go to one of the conventions. He's also pointedly declined to endorse a presidential candidate, which is the most basic prerequisite for any kind of role at any kind of convention. So why are we pretending this is some sort of snub?
I'm guessing it's because everyone is bored.
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Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.)
Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah)
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.