The Corner

Joe Lieberman: Absolutely Brilliant

Sen. Joe Lieberman gave a brilliant speech last night at Commentary magazine’s annual dinner at the University Club in New York. It was one hell of a great talk. Joe Lieberman was incredibly impressive. Absolutely brilliant.

Mr. Lieberman talked at some length about how the Democratic party has completely departed from the strong national-security principles of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. He said those leaders clearly understood the need to fight totalitarian dictators and regimes, and that they possessed the moral clarity that can separate friends from enemies in the long-run battle to promote freedom and democracy.

He mentioned John Kennedy’s famous quote, “that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” He mentioned Ronald Reagan as an heir to that tradition.

He then spent a lot of time talking about why today’s Democratic party has completely lost its way on foreign policy — especially Sen. Obama, who Lieberman believes is completely wrong in proposing to meet with Iran, North Korea, and other rogue states. He also criticized Obama for opposing the South Korean trade deal, which should be an important foreign policy against North Korea as well as an economic-growth measure. Similarly, he attacked Obama for opposing the Columbia trade deal, which would strike a blow against Cuba and Venezuela while enhancing economic growth.

On several occasions the Connecticut senator emphasized the need for internationalism rather than isolationism, and for free trade rather than protectionism. He labeled Obama protectionist and isolationist, as well as completely naïve on international affairs, while strongly endorsing John McCain on these points.

It was a tour-de-force speech that impressed me once again with the brilliance of Joe Lieberman. Frankly, he would make a good president. Undoubtedly, he will have a major cabinet post if John McCain wins.

Interestingly, Lieberman noted that in the 2000 presidential campaign George W. Bush was closer to the isolationist position while Al Gore was the internationalist. Of course, that has gotten completely reversed over the last seven-and-a-half years: Bush has become the great internationalist while the Democrats have sounded more and more isolationist. It’s an interesting point. He also noted that 9/11 changed everything and that the surge in Iraq is working.

Because John McCain shares Joe Lieberman’s worldview, I continue to believe that it is essential that McCain wins in November. When I endorsed McCain on NRO last winter I made the case that it was all about being commander-in-chief during wartime. I still think that’s what it’s all about. Let me add that while I do not support Sen. McCain’s cap-and-trade plan on climate change, I am pleasantly surprised with Mac’s supply-side tax-and-spending-cut program as well as his strong free-trade position. I also like his health plan and his speech on judicial conservatism.

Sen. Lieberman didn’t talk about all this last night. Rather, he focused on the foreign-policy question, making the case for moral clarity in international affairs and extending that case to his support of John McCain. I totally agree.

Larry Kudlow — Larry Kudlow is CNBC’s senior contributor. His new book is JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity, written with Brian Domitrovic.

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