...Lieberman insisted there is no New Joe-Old Joe dichotomy.That, I feel, is the core problem with Joe Lieberman. His inability to believe that anyone with a differing opinion can possibly be correct. Lieberman suffers from what is sometimes referred to as an "infallibility complex", where he can see no merits in a position that opposes what he believes.
"I think I stayed who I have always been throughout my Senate service," he said in an interview Friday.
But nine longtime Lieberman friends - many of whom would not let their names be used out of concern for their relationships with the senator - said otherwise.
"I don't think he's operated in the last few years the way he operated earlier," said Norman Ornstein, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime Lieberman friend. "He hasn't cut people out, but there used to be more dialogue with others."
Lieberman has long balanced two forces in his public life: his faith and value system, which provides the underpinning for his views on many topics, and his political instincts.
But in recent years, the moral side had been gaining prominence and the political acumen seemed to be fading. The old gang is not certain why that happened, but in conversations with nine people from this crowd, they almost uniformly said Lieberman was deeply affected by an accumulation of personal and public setbacks unlike anything he's known in his 64 years.
Some of these friends said no one can know how Lieberman still deals with the blow he suffered in 2000. His vice presidential run was the perfect validation of all he had worked for.
Lieberman hoped his campaign would gain him his party's respect - and strong support - as the Democratic 2004 presidential front-runner. He again thought that his vow to stick by his moral code, this time by not formally entering the race until Gore made up his mind about 2004, would help that cause.
For the first time in his public life, that political logic went haywire. By 2002, Democratic voters were raising serious questions about his support for the Iraq war, and the next year, even Gore left Lieberman's side, endorsing not his loyal lieutenant, but Lieberman nemesis and anti-war hero Howard Dean.
Lieberman was deeply affected by the presidential campaign, unable to fathom how Democrats he had courted all his life could so starkly reject him.
"That race was very different from the unbelievable events of 2000," he said. "This was a time where my party was heading in a very different direction, and I thought I was right.
And I refuse to change when I believe the position I was articulating was right."...
His unbending stance on our continued occupation of Iraq is a prime example. For him to admit that it was wrong to invade Iraq, and it's wrong to stay there indefinitely, would be impossible. He's too emotionally attached to his position, and he can no more change that position than a leopard can change its spots.
There's no doubt about it. And whether because of ego or weakness, he has lost sight of what's important - the people of Connecticut and of the nation.