Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
alert-–-al-gore-pays-tribute-to-former-running-mate-joe-lieberman,-82,-as-hundreds-gather-for-funeral-at-his-synagogue:-2020-democratic-candidate-reemerges-for-connecticut-memorial-service-and-remembers-late-senator-as-a-‘mensch’Alert – Al Gore pays tribute to former running mate Joe Lieberman, 82, as hundreds gather for funeral at his synagogue: 2020 Democratic candidate reemerges for Connecticut memorial service and remembers late Senator as a ‘mensch’

Former Vice President Al Gore eulogized the late Sen. Joe Lieberman as a ‘mensch’ while revealing the deep disagreements that grew between them as former Democrat strayed on partisan and security issues.

Gore, who has pulled back from electoral politics, attended funeral services for Lieberman in Lieberman’s hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, and spoke about how the two men grew apart following their bitter defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

After stumping on the trail with their wives, the men later developed splits over Lieberman’s support for the Iraq war and his decision to endorse Republican John McCain. 

Former Vice President Al Gore, left, and speaks with Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz at the funeral of former Senator Joe Lieberman, in Stamford, Connecticut. He hailed Lieberman as a 'mensch' and spoke openly about difficulties in their friendship

Former Vice President Al Gore, left, and speaks with Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz at the funeral of former Senator Joe Lieberman, in Stamford, Connecticut. He hailed Lieberman as a ‘mensch’ and spoke openly about difficulties in their friendship

‘I, for one, was tempted to anger at times, frustrated at Joe’s stubborness and disappointed that he was taking a path that I thought was wrong,’ he said. ‘And I know his disappointment and my turning away from him, was surely just as profound. So there the story could have ended. And if it had, we would have reached a dead end in a once loving and fruitful relationship,’ he said.

‘But it did not end there. We had another turn. Both of us knew, deep down, that the strong foundation of our friendship and what we shared in common was so much larger and so much stronger than what was driving us apart in those years,’ he said.  

Gore, who has issued stark warnings about climate change throughout his career, also gave stark warnings about the nation’s political culture, speaking about ‘rabbit holes’ and the ‘echo chamber.’

‘And spending long enough in the echo chamber induces a new form of AI, artificial insanity, he quipped. 

‘I mean it not merely as a humorous line. I mean to reference QAnon, election denial, climate denial, even the resurgence of the Flat Earth Society, if you can believe that,’ he said.

Gore, who keeps a low public profile, delivered a eulogy for Joe Lieberman

Gore, who keeps a low public profile, delivered a eulogy for Joe Lieberman

Lieberman's funeral took place at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford

Lieberman’s funeral took place at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford

Former Vice President Al Gore offers his condolences to Hadassah Lieberman during the funeral for her husband, former Sen. Joe Lieberman in Stamford, Conn., Friday, March. 29, 2024

Former Vice President Al Gore offers his condolences to Hadassah Lieberman during the funeral for her husband, former Sen. Joe Lieberman in Stamford, Conn., Friday, March. 29, 2024

Democratic presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore, left, and his running mate, vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman, of Connecticut, wave to supporters at a campaign rally in Jackson, Tenn., Oct. 25, 2000. Lieberman, who nearly won the vice presidency on the Democratic ticket with Gore in the disputed 2000 election and who almost became Republican John McCain's running mate eight years later, died Wednesday, March 27

Democratic presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore, left, and his running mate, vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman, of Connecticut, wave to supporters at a campaign rally in Jackson, Tenn., Oct. 25, 2000. Lieberman, who nearly won the vice presidency on the Democratic ticket with Gore in the disputed 2000 election and who almost became Republican John McCain’s running mate eight years later, died Wednesday, March 27

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) arrives with his wife Hadassah at the Kennedy Center for a tribute concert for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on Mar. 8, 2009 in Washington, DC

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) arrives with his wife Hadassah at the Kennedy Center for a tribute concert for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on Mar. 8, 2009 in Washington, DC

‘And this is a form of rancor that has the potential for dividing our country, but we have also a strong foundation and common beliefs and values that are stronger than what is dividing us.’

It came in a eulogy where he hailed his former running mate and four term senator as a mensch, a Yiddish term. 

‘Those who seek its definition will not find it in dictionaries so much as they find it in the way Joe Lieberman lived his life: friendship over anger, reconciliation as a form of grace,’ he said. ‘We can learn from Joe Lieberman´s life some critical lessons about how we might heal the rancor in our nation today.’

Lieberman, who died this week after a fall at his New York home, was the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket, a longtime senator, and a cofounder of the No Labels group that is seeking a candidate to challenge the major parties, striking fear in the hearts of some Democratic operatives.

Top Connecticut Democrats, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Gov. Ned Lamont – Lieberman´s one-time rival for the Senate seat – shared similar sentiments.

Lamont said his acquaintance with Lieberman started on ‘an inauspicious note’ when they ran against each other in 2006. After Lamont defeated the incumbent Lieberman in the Democratic primary for his Senate seat, Lieberman ran as an independent and defeated Lamont.

Lamont said Lieberman loved Frank Sinatra songs, especially ‘My Way.’ ‘He did it his way,’ Lamont said. ‘He never quite fit in that Republican or Democratic box. I think maybe in an odd way I helped liberate him because when he beat me – he beat me pretty good, by the way – he won as an independent.’

Lamont said Lieberman ‘was always a calming presence’ and a ‘bridge over troubled waters as you see the partisan sniping from both directions.’

Blumenthal recalled Lieberman´s ‘tremendous accomplishments,’ including helping to form the Department of Homeland Security and championing civil rights, voting rights, women´s reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. ‘But the greatest accomplishment of his life was his marriage to Hadassah and their children and grandchildren,’ Blumenthal said.

Services were held at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford. For Lieberman, a self-described observant Jew who followed the rules of the Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, the congregation played a key role early on in his life.

He once recalled how the congregation’s former synagogue building was ‘a place that gave me the first sense of religion; a very special uplift,’ according to a posting on the congregation’s website.

‘I feel very lucky – my adherence to the Jewish tradition is really an asset,’ he said. ‘Religious Catholics and Protestants find a bond of common value with my beliefs and stand. It is this that makes me so proud of being an American.’

Lieberman’s youngest daughter, Hana Lowenstein, who moved to Israel in 2018 with her family, said tearfully that she had prayed, ‘Please God, give my father many more years. Let him see all of my kids´ bar mitzvahs, their weddings, his great-grandchildren.’ But she said God ‘had other plans.’

Lowenstein said that observing the Jewish Sabbath was ‘very dear’ to her father and he would walk 5 miles (8 kilometers) in order to abide by the Sabbath prohibition on riding in a motor vehicle. ‘You were literally someone who was sanctifying God´s name by everything you did,’ she said.

Matthew Lieberman, the former senator´s son from his first marriage, said Lieberman ‘was a blessing for all of us’ but ‘a solid slice of people’ nevertheless developed a hate for him.

Despite that animosity, Matthew Lieberman said his father encouraged others to not let those disagreements devolve into hatred. ‘We´re not the Hatfields and McCoys here,’ Matthew Lieberman said. ‘We´re Americans, we´re fellow citizens in the greatest country in the history of the world. We´re all humans and we´re all we´ve got.’

Lieberman, a former state Senate leader and attorney general, was long known for his pragmatic, independent streak. After losing the chance to serve as vice president with the Democrat Gore, he came close to becoming Republican John McCain’s running mate in 2008. However, conservatives balked at the idea of tapping Lieberman, who was known for supporting gay rights, civil rights, abortion rights and environmental causes while taking a hawkish stand on military and national security matters.

President Joe Biden on Thursday called Lieberman a friend, someone who was ‘principled, steadfast and unafraid to stand up for what he thought was right.’

‘Joe believed in a shared purpose of serving something bigger than ourselves,’ Biden, who served 20 years in the Senate with Lieberman, said in his statement. ‘He lived the values of his faith as he worked to repair the wounds of the world.’

Lieberman came tantalizingly close to winning the vice presidency in the contentious 2000 presidential contest that was decided by a 537-vote margin victory for George W. Bush over Gore in Florida after a drawn-out recount, legal challenges and a Supreme Court decision. He was the first Jewish candidate on a major party´s presidential ticket.

Over the last decade, Lieberman helped lead No Labels, a centrist third-party movement that has said it will offer as-yet-unnamed candidates for president and vice president this year. Some groups aligned with Democrats oppose the effort, fearing it will help presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump win the White House.

Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, have four children.

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