Lieberman Retires, Celebrates Bipartisan Senate Accomplishments
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman gave his farewell address in the chamber of the Senate Wednesday afternoon, wrapping up four terms in office that included a run as the Democratic nominee for vice president.
Taking the floor one last time, Lieberman said, “Thank you all. I have a lot to be grateful for.”
Lieberman notched 40 years in public service, the last 24 as a senator from Connecticut. He came to national prominence when Vice President Al Gore tapped Lieberman to be his running mate in the 2000 presidential election.
“It will forever remain one of my deepest honors that thanks to Vice President Gore, I was given the opportunity to be the first Jewish American nominated by a major political party for national office,” he recalled, getting in one last joke and jab. “And thanks to the American people, to have received half a million more votes than my opponent on the other side.”
Lieberman sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, losing out to Sen. John Kerry, and in 2006 lost the Democratic nomination for Senate in Connecticut. Despite calls for him to step aside, Lieberman ran and won another Senate term as an Independent.
Lieberman, 70, said he was optimistic about the direction the country is headed in, noting that since he first took the oath of office, “American and the work have become freer and more prosperous.”
If he had one note of concern about the future of the country, he said it was about the polarization of politics.
“The greatest obstacle that I see standing between us and the brighter American future we all want is right here in Washington. It’s the partisan polarization of politics, which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a Democracy depends.”
He noted that the accomplishments he is most proud of during his time in office, which included the Clean Air Act, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, creating the Department of Homeland security and stopping genocide in the Balkans, happened because Republicans and Democrats found common ground. Appealing to the incoming class of 12 new senators, Lieberman urged them to put the interests of their constituents over that of party.
His parting remembrance, however, was of how when he was an intern for his home state Senator, he left Washington with the dream that he would come back and serve.
“I have been blessed to live that dream and that is what America is all about. We have always been a nation of dreamers, whose destiny is determined only by the bounds of our own imagination and by our willingness to work hard to realize what we have imagined,” he said as he yielded his time for the last time.