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“It’s the partisan polarization of our politics which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a democracy depends, and right now, which prevents us from restoring our fiscal solvency as a nation,” he said.
PRAISE FROM REPUBLICANS
As Republicans in Congress and Obama’s White House debate how to address the country’s budget problems, Lieberman made a passionate appeal for the country not to focus exclusively on domestic politics.
“The American people need us, the Senate, to stay engaged economically, diplomatically and militarily in an ever smaller world,” he said.
Lieberman is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, former chair of the committee and its top Republican, praised Lieberman’s bipartisanship. “He has demonstrated his willingness, time and again, to risk his political career to do what he believes is right for America,” she said.
Lieberman said in his career he was proudest of achievements including helping pass the Clean Air Act in 1990, creating the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks and the Department of Homeland Security, reforming the intelligence community and repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.
He also noted that he was the first Jewish American nominated for national office by a major party.
In 2000, the Democratic ticket of Al Gore and Lieberman won 500,000 more votes than Republican George W. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney. But Bush won the White House in the electoral college, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against allowing a recount of votes in Florida.
“And incidentally,” Lieberman said in his speech, “(I am) grateful to the American people, grateful to have received a half million more votes than my opponent on the other side, but that’s a longer story.”