Joseph Isadore Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is a Jewish-American Democratic politician and a current U.S. senator from Connecticut. In 2000, he ran for Vice President as Al Gore's running mate on the Democratic ticket, making him the first Jew nominated by a major party to run for that office.
Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut and attended public schools there. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale in 1964 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1967. Lieberman was elected to the Connecticut State Senate in 1970 and served there for 10 years, including the last 6 as Majority Leader. From 1982 to 1988, he served as Connecticut's 21st Attorney General.
Lieberman was first elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1988, scoring the nation's biggest political upset that year by a margin of just 10,000 votes after being backed by a coalition of conservative Democrats, allied with conservative Republicans who were upset with Republican incumbent Lowell Weicker's liberal voting record. Six years later, he made history by winning the biggest landslide victory ever in a Connecticut Senate race, drawing 67 percent of the vote and beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes. In 1998, Lieberman earned widespread praise as the first prominent Democrat to publicly chastise Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. In 2000, while concurrently running for the vice presidency, Lieberman was elected to a third Senate term by winning 64 percent of the vote.
When control of the Senate switched from the Republicans to Democrats hands in June 2001, Lieberman became Chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee, with oversight responsibilities over a broad range of government activities. In addition, he is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and chair of its Subcommittee Clean Air, Wetlands and Private Property; the Armed Services Committee, where he chaired the Subcommittee on AirLand Forces and sits of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and the Small Business Committee. When Republican control of the Senate resumed in January 2003, Lieberman resumed his role as ranking minority member of the committees he had once chaired,
Vice presidential campaign
Al Gore made history when he picked Joe Lieberman to be his running mate in 2000.
In August 2000, the presumptive-Democratic nominee for president, Al Gore, tapped Lieberman to be his vice-presidential running mate. His selection marked the first time a Jew was part of major party's presidential ticket. Liberman's Senate term was also due to expire in that election cycle and he decided to stage a run to maintain that seat as well. If he won the vice presidency, he presumably would have resigned his Senate seat.
On January 13, 2003, Lieberman announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination as a candidate in the 2004 presidential election. Lieberman withdrew his candidacy on February 3, 2004, after failing to win any of the five primaries or two caucuses held that day. One thing that is believed to have cost him votes among Democrats was his unwavering support for the war in Iraq.
Lieberman is considered among the more conservative of prominent Democrat politicians, sometimes described as a "Republicrat" by the most liberal in the party. He has been a strong supporter of the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and has criticized the left of his party (including some of his opponents for the Democratic nomination for the 2004 presidential election) for their opposition to the war. Lieberman argued that the Democratic Party needed a candidate who was strong on national defense to compete against George W. Bush. In response, rival campaigns derided him as "Bush-Lite".
In December 2003, Al Gore, Lieberman's former running mate, endorsed Howard Dean. This caused a rift due to the fact that Gore did not call Lieberman to tell him of his endorsement. However, after the fact, it turned out Gore was to call all the candidates the night before, but the news was leaked to the media.
Video game censorship
Lieberman has been criticized by many computer and video game players for his stance on video games; he is a strong supporter of video game censorship. As a Senator he inspired the advent of the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The Entertainment Software Association is against governmental regulation of or restriction on video games. Therefore, the organization opposes Lieberman. He has been known many times to denounce the violence contained in video games and has made attempts to regulate sales of violent video games to minors.
Lieberman is noted for being an observant Jew, and attends an Orthodox synagogue, though he is careful not to describe himself as "Orthodox" (http://www.beth-am.org/index2.cfm?page=351). While the American public has been increasingly receptive to Jewish politicans in positions of leadership, no Jewish individual has yet been elected to either of the two high offices Lieberman has sought, the vice presidency and the presidency. Parallels have been noted to John F. Kennedy, the first and as of 2004 the only Roman Catholic President of the United States. Lieberman has also faced some conflict from secular members of his own party who have questioned whether his religious values would interfere with his ability to impartially represent people of all (or no) faiths.
Lieberman is the author of five books: The Power Broker (1966), a biography of the late Democratic Party chairman, John M. Bailey; The Scorpion and the Tarantula (1970), a study of early efforts to control nuclear proliferation; The Legacy (1981), a history of Connecticut politics from 1930-1980; Child Support in America (1986), a guidebook on methods to increase the collection of child support from delinquent fathers, and In Praise of Public Life (2000), a spirited defense of public life that draws on personal experience.
"I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody. ... But Americans are different. That's why we're outraged by this. That's why the apologies were due."
-7 May 2004 [speaking as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld]
"On the question that we're celebrating today, Howard Dean throughout this campaign has said he wasn't sure that Saddam really represented a threat to us. At one point he said, 'I suppose the Iraqis are better off with Saddam Hussein gone.' I would say this, and this is a choice the voters have to make in the primaries. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison."
- Lieberman's Senate website (http://lieberman.senate.gov/)