Rumors are swirling that President Trump has already found his replacement for James Comey to lead the FBI: former Sen. Joe Lieberman. The Connecticut Democrat-turned-Independent would immediately test just how much Senate Democrats are willing to politicize every single one of Trump’s appointments.
Opposing Lieberman’s nomination would mean Democrats turning their back on their own party’s 2000 vice presidential candidates—in a year when they won the popular vote. Despite being labeled a moderate squish by other Democrats, when Lieberman ran for president 2004 and dropped out, he later endorsed liberal alternative Howard Dean over John Kerry.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Democrats turned on Lieberman after he pissed off liberal activists through his support for the Iraq War and willingness to compromise with Republicans. After losing the Senate primary in part because of Connecticut Democrats’ betrayal and unwillingness to support a so-called moderate, Lieberman ran as an Independent and won by 10 percentage points.
Of course, Democrats never forgave Lieberman. He was forever branded a turncoat and declared everything wrong with liberal politics of the oughts. After all, what kind of Democrat could support both entitlement reform and tougher sanctions on Iran? Taking a few lunches and photos with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham is the Democratic base’s equivalent of a Tea Party candidate hosting a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
Still, all of this amounts to matters of policy and politics— not character. There’s no suggestion Lieberman is dishonest, and his background as Connecticut’s attorney general certainly gives him some qualifications to lead America’s top law-enforcement agency.
Already Democrats are bitching and moaning at the thought of Lieberman taking over. Lieberman’s Senate replacement, Chris Murphy, said that despite his history of “angering Democrats and Republicans, which is probably a good experience for being FBI director,” his “political background” taints him for life.
Sure, that’d be a valid criticism if there were a viable alternative. Comey, widely seen as a Man of the People, quickly unravelled into the most reviled FBI director in a generation. You want an apolitical FBI director? A different attorney general, perhaps—hopefully he doesn’t come from one of the 43 states that pick them in elections.
In reality, Lieberman’s critics really mean they want a Democrat who will give backroom promises that he’ll devote most of attention to contrived conspiracies and scandals against the Trump administration.
Trump should call their bluff. The American people don’t care about petty political battles over a decade ago—they care about having a responsible person leading the FBI. If Democrats want to trot out old tape of Lieberman shaking hands with popular Republican senators, let them.
Anyone who suspects Lieberman is someone who has somehow transformed into a TrumpBot simply because of his connection to a law firm that now represents Trump should be roundly mocked.
The attempts to smear Lieberman once again only further reveal that the Democrats’ concerns about Trump’s connections to Russia are nothing more than political plays to block the GOP legislative agenda. So far, they’ve been crafty. Opposing Lieberman would be a step too far.