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Joe Lieberman remembered for his work, disposition, dedication


Joe Lieberman, who died in New York City on Wednesday, is being remembered as a true moderate.

The cause of death was complications from a fall. He was 82.

“As a Democrat,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement, “Joe wasn’t afraid to engage with senators from across the aisle and worked hard to earn votes from outside his party. He engaged in serious and thoughtful debate with opposing voices on important issues. And in both loss and victory, Joe Lieberman was always a gentleman.”

Officially an independent, or independent Democrat, Lieberman aligned with the Democratic Party and did caucus with them. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2013, choosing in 2012 not to seek reelection. Sen. Chris Murphy succeeded him with an election win on Nov. 6, 2012.

Lieberman was the vice presidential choice – and first of Jewish faith – for the ticket of former Vice President Al Gore in the controversial presidential election of 2000. Eight years later, he was close to being in the same role with Republican John McCain as he battled Barack Obama.

Lieberman was in early primaries a presidential candidate himself in 2004.

Maine Democratic Sen. Susan Collins wrote on social media, “Joe Lieberman was a dear friend, a wonderful senator, and a true patriot. He not only was one of the best legislators I have ever known, but also one of the best human beings.”

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also on social media, wrote, “This is devastatingly sad. I feel fortunate to have been in his presence, traveling the world in support of America’s interests as we saw it.”

And he added, “The good news, he is in the hands of the loving God. The bad news, John McCain is giving him an earful about how screwed up things are. Rest in peace, my dear friend.”

He was known for his support of gay rights, civil rights, abortion rights and environmental causes. Those stands were among the reasons McCain, late in the decision process, opted for the strong right views of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Lieberman was well-respected, both by those with which he came to agreement, and those with which he did not. He described himself as not fitting into a political box, and his actions proved it.

And not just from nearly landing on the presidential ticket of both major parties.

For example, he and former President Bill Clinton were best of friends prior to the scandalous Monica Lewinsky storyline. He minced no words on the Senate floor in chiding the president. At the time to vote on impeachment, Lieberman voted against it.

He was said to be part of holding back the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Yet, he voted yes for it on Dec. 24, 2009, and on Feb. 2, 2011, did not vote on a Senate bill to repeal it.

Many of his words can be considered prophetic in this election cycle, mired with congressional gridlock and polar stances by the major parties. Leaving the Senate, he said working together “requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party. That is what is desperately needed in Washington now.”

And as for the increasing scrutiny of America’s southern border mixing with that, Lieberman long ago said, “I believe that our national security lies not just in protecting our borders, but in bridging divides.”

Lieberman earned his undergrad and law degrees from Yale. He is survived by his wife, Hadassah, and four children.