Jacob Heilbrunn

Goodbye, Joe Lieberman

There was something poignant about watching Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has served faithfully in the Senate for decades, making his resignation speech surrounded by his family. Actually, I lied. There wasn't anything poignant about it at all. Thank goodness, Lieberman is vacating his seat, which he probably would have lost in 2012.

Lieberman liked to present himself as a kind of detached Solon--wise, sagacious, prudent, thoughtful. Instead, he was the incarnation of the senatorial blowhard. He also had the usual delusions of grandeur, convinced that the country owed him the presidency. It didn't. He was no JFK even if he was convinced that he represented a continuation of his spirit, in domestic and foreign policy.

He says he is looking for "new opportunities that will allow me to serve my country." How about he heads over to Iraq or Afghanistan, the wars he has so lustily championed, indignant that many Democrats view them with apprehension. Maybe he could convince Hamid Karzai that shutting down parliament isn't such a neat idea. Or he could serve as a politician in Israel, persuading the country that maybe targeting human rights organizations as traitorous isn't such a swift idea, either.

The best thing that Lieberman could probably do, however, would just be to go away. He isn't a bad man. He's simply a mediocre one.

Whether his successor will be any better is an open question. But it seems improbable that Connecticut can come up with anyone who rivals Lieberman's smug and entitled and complacement sense of self-importance. In many ways, he was a pure neocon, in bluff and bombast. Lieberman was thus the last neocon in the Democratic party, which he abandoned to win reelection in 2010. Now his Senate career has reached its crepuscular stage with little to show for it.