Lieberman Says His Skipped Iraq Votes Just "Procedural" & Don't Matter

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • David Sirota Newspaper columnist, radio host (AM760), bestselling author

In a stunning admission, Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign today went on record saying that major Iraq votes in Congress do not matter. Yes, that's right, in an Associated Press article about Lieberman's decision to skip recent key votes on Iraq, his spokeswoman claimed that he thought it was acceptable to skip these votes because they were supposedly just "typical party-line procedural votes."

Usually, when one describes a vote like as a "procedural vote," one is to describing votes on points of order or parliamentary procedure - that is, votes that are only about the rules conducting the business of the Senate. But a quick look at the two votes that Lieberman deliberately skipped show they had nothing to do with "procedure" - and everything to do with whether the U.S. Congress is going to demand any accountability whatsoever from the Bush administration on Iraq.

The first vote Lieberman skipped was on legislation that would have forced the Bush administration to develop a firm strategy to end the burgeoning civil war in Iraq, and then report that strategy to Congress. That's what's called "demanding accountability" - the very thing that Lieberman attacked many of his Senate colleagues for trying to do when he claimed that asking any questions about the war or having Congress fulfill its constitutional responsibilities of oversight supposedly "undermine[s] the President's credibility at our nation's peril." Yet, despite the fact that Lieberman was in Washington, D.C. that day and voted for the bill immediately preceding this key Iraq vote, he skipped this vote. Apparently to Lieberman, demanding accountability from the Bush administration on issues of war and peace is just a "procedural" matter that he feels is A.O.K. to skip out on.

The second vote Lieberman skipped was on legislation to prevent the Bush administration from trying to tamper with media in Iraq. The bill followed embarassing revelations of tampering, which have - not surprisingly - helped enflame anti-American passions in the Mideast. But again - apparently, Lieberman thinks that stopping such behavior so as to help calm the situation in Iraq is just a "procedural" matter that he can miss.

What we have here, folks, is an admission that Lieberman really thinks he has no obligation to fulfill the basic responsibilities of his job - even on issues of war and peace. The minimum a U.S. Senator is paid to do is cast vote. All the rest - the speeches, the galas, the pomp and circumstance - is window dressing. But to Lieberman, it's the opposite. He thinks that Connecticut's Senate seat is just a platform for him to promote himself, and, as he let the Associated Press know tonight, he doesn't care a whit about fulfilling the very basic responsibilities of his job, and he's willing to avoid those responsibilities if he is forced to deal with issues he is now afraid to deal with.

(DISCLOSURE: I have long been a volunteer supporter of Ned Lamont's candidacy and written extensively about the race. As of Labor Day, I am officially working with the Lamont for Senate campaign on research. The writing on this blog is my own, and not the official work I do for the Lamont campaign.)