When Joe Liberman announced he would not be seeking another term in the Senate back in January of 2011, Jonathan Chait had an acute sense of his options:
I’m guessing he has a sinecure at a foundation or think-tank dedicated to promoting hawkish foreign policy or centrism. The right-wing version of this career plan would be an AEI fellowship where he will produce a book and a series of op-eds on the theme I Did Not Leave The Democratic Party, The Democratic Party Left Me. The left-wing version is a Brookings fellowship consisting largely of providing quotes to the mainstream media bemoaning the decline of bipartisanship, punctuated by service on a large number of blue ribbon panels.
Door Number One it is:
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur Brooks announced today that former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman will join AEI Visiting Fellow Jon Kyl as co-chair of the American Internationalism Project, an important new effort from AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. The Project’s focus will be to rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement.
I’m guessing it was a relatively easy call for Lieberman. Yeah, Brookings offers an affiliation to a number of people who are big on promoting bipartisanship. But they mostly have some scholarly or wonkish credentials, and Brookings itself doesn’t do advocacy work. Besides, people who know him well have told me his defeat by Ned Lamont in the 2006 Senate primary really changed his previously mild-mannered attitude, embittering him towards those he perceives as having hijacked the Democratic Party, particularly on national security issues. So the chance to continue lashing out them from the friendly confines of AEI, and helping combat the creeping non-interventionism in the GOP as well, makes perfect sense. Assuming he’s out there in the public eye a lot, this new gig will likely eliminate the residual good will he still managed to possess on the center-left, partly thanks to his leading role in eliminating DADT. But I doubt he cares. He is extremely unlikely to create any “bipartisan consensus” around his own national security views. This self-appointed role, however, will give him plenty of opportunity to nurse grudges and settle scores, or if nothing else, to bask in the praise of Republicans who will be happy to help him pretend he represents a significant number of actual Democrats.