One of one: Democratic leaders honor Lieberman at funeral


(NEW YORK) — Several Democratic leaders who honored the life and legacy of former Sen. Joe Lieberman at his funeral Friday remembered the man who represented Connecticut for over two decades as a calming presence and commended his approach to holding public office in contrast to today’s division.

The prominent Jewish politician, was also former Vice President Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential election, died Wednesday in New York City at 82 years old.

Gore, Sen. Chris Murphy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, former Sen. Chris Dodd, Gov. Ned Lamont, and Lieberman’s children all spoke at the funeral, held at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut — his home state. Many regarded Lieberman as a “mensch,” a Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honor.

In a world of bitter political divides, Gore said Lieberman set an example others should follow.

“We can learn from Joe Lieberman’s life some critical lessons about how we might heal the rancor in our nation today.”

Gore pointed out that while they shared “bitter disagreements on policy and political matters,” they stayed close friends regardless.

“Both of us knew … the strong foundations of our friendship, and what we share in common were so much larger and so much stronger than what was driving us apart in those years,” Gore said.

The former vice president also recollected the time he shared with Lieberman as the two awaited the results of the disputed 2000 presidential election.

“On Saturdays during the long, excruciating, 36-day process after Election Day before the Supreme Court decision, we would … observe the Sabbath together and it was a time of real comfort and perspective,” Gore said.

Lamont — who was once Lieberman’s rival for the Senate seat — said when Lieberman served as attorney general, he was known for “standing up for civil rights, civil liberties, consumer rights and the environment.”

“He was always a calming presence like that bridge over troubled waters,” Lamont said.

Blumenthal also emphasized Lieberman’s accomplishments while he was a senator.

“He helped form the Department of Homeland Security, built the modern intelligence community … which has protected our nation from terrorist threats and attacks,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said Lieberman was a skilled listener, too.

“The picture always in my mind will be of him listening to someone because he believed that every person has a story, and every story is worthy of respect,” Blumenthal said.

Murphy recalled running for a state legislature seat early in his career and having Lieberman — “a giant” — campaign for him.

“He came to campaign for me when I was a long-shot candidate for the state legislature at age 25 because he believed in mentoring young people who had a kind of vision for the world like he did,” Murphy said.

Murphy said Lieberman was “authentic” and rejected being boxed into partisan categorizations. Lieberman went on to become the founding chair of the No Labels party, which is considering launching a “unity ticket” in this year’s presidential election.

“He was one of one; how lucky for Connecticut that he was one of ours,” Murphy said.

Lieberman is survived by his wife, Hadassah, and four children.

“He gets a ton of credit for being kind and being honest and being courageous and unafraid. He deserves all that. The funny thing is it was easy for him — it came natural,” Matt Lieberman, a son of Joe Lieberman said.

“His integrity was not a blinding light. It was a magnetic field, drawing in fellow travelers and inviting even adversaries for dialogue and compromise,” Ethan Tucker, Lieberman’s stepson said.

Lieberman’s daughter, Hani Lowenstein, also paid tribute to her father and said, “I will certainly feel as if there’s a gaping hole without you with us physically in this world.”

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