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Joe Conason: Sen. Lieberman Literally in Bed With Drug Lobby

Posted on Jul 12, 2006

By Joe Conason

Editor’s note: In this column, Conason points out that the Connecticut senator who would lecture us on ethics drafted a bill in 2005 that made generous giveaways to pharmaceutical companies—one month after his wife went to work in the pharmaceuticals division of a major lobbying and PR firm.


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Whenever Sen. Joseph Lieberman complains that he is the target of a “single-issue” challenge by upstart millionaire Ned Lamont, the three-term incumbent proves he doesn’t quite get what is happening to him. It is true that the Lamont campaign began as a protest against his slavish support of the war in Iraq. It is untrue that growing antiwar sentiment is the sole reason for his peril in next month’s Democratic primary.

That he would dismiss the disastrous occupation as merely “one issue” suggests how remote he is from his constituents—the great majority of whom now view the war as a costly strategic and moral error that should be concluded as soon as possible. He sounds equally detached from that failed policy’s awful reality when he proclaims that “the situation in Iraq is a lot better” than a year ago.

Connecticut’s voters are not obliged to prove their “moderation” by ratifying his bad judgment.

Yet the war issue alone probably would not have threatened him, as anyone who listened carefully to his critics might learn. After 18 years in the Senate, his fervent insistence that he is a lifelong devotee of “progressive causes” and his endorsement by major liberal organizations only seem to mask his accommodation with Washington’s conservative status quo.

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Lieberman dutifully recites his opposition to “tax cuts for the rich” and “privatizing Social Security,” and his support of “universal health insurance” and “affordable healthcare.” When he utters those phrases, unfortunately, they ring hollow to many rank-and-file Democrats.

Actually, the syndrome afflicting him is found among entrenched veterans of both parties, especially those who appear more concerned with connections and contributions than values or ideals.

Sen. Lieberman has long been known to cultivate the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which provide jobs in his home state and contributions to his campaign fund. But he has literally been sleeping with one of their Washington representatives ever since his wife, Hadassah, joined Hill & Knowlton last year. The legendary lobbying and PR firm hired her as a “senior counselor” in its “health and pharmaceuticals practice.”

This news marked Hadassah Lieberman’s return to consulting after more than a decade of retirement. “I have had a life-long commitment to helping people gain better health care,” she said in the press release announcing her new job. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Hill & Knowlton to counsel a terrific stable of clients toward that same goal.”

It would be uplifting to imagine that Hill & Knowlton—after spending the past decade as a defendant in tobacco class-action lawsuits because of its role in propaganda disputing the deadly effects of smoking—is now devoted to improving everybody’s health. More likely, the firm remains devoted to improving the profits of its clientele, which has historically included Enron, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Saudis, Kuwaitis, American International Group and Boeing.

When a senator’s wife works for one of the capital’s largest lobby shops, appearances tend to matter. In this case, something happened immediately that didn’t look very good.

Mrs. Lieberman signed up with Hill & Knowlton in March 2005. The firm’s clients included GlaxoSmithKline, the British pharmaceutical giant that manufactures flu vaccines along with many other drugs. In April 2005, Sen. Lieberman introduced a bill that would award an array of new government “incentives” to companies like GSK to produce more vaccines—notably patent extensions on other products, at a cost of billions to governments and consumers.

That legislation provoked irritated comment by his hometown newspaper, the New Haven Register. In an editorial headlined “Lieberman Crafts Drug Company Perk,” the Register noted that his bill was even more generous to the pharmaceutical industry than a similar proposal by the Senate Republican leadership. “The government can offer incentives and guarantees for needed public health measures,” said the editorial. “But it should not write a blank check, as these bills do, to the pharmaceutical industry that has such a large cost to the public with what may be an uncertain or dubious return.”

No doubt Lieberman would do the bidding of the pharmaceutical lobby whether his wife was on its payroll or not, but this kind of coincidence is best avoided by a man who lectures the world about morality and ethics.

The senator has demanded that Ned Lamont, his challenger in next month’s Democratic primary, release his income tax returns, which must mean that he plans to do likewise. His latest financial disclosure lists Mrs. Lieberman’s compensation from Hill & Knowlton only as “more than $1000.” Presumably his tax returns will show how much more—and measure his distance from the people he represents.

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By Chiropractic, August 22, 2011 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

One of the first things that distance a politician from his/her constituencies is refusing to admit they are wrong; the second is refusing to apologize/compromise. For political or valid reasons, many politicians inevitably commit these 2 mistakes.

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By Johnson wilson, December 17, 2007 at 3:08 am Link to this comment
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“Global pharmacy service at very affordable prices, Stocking all your pharmaceutical needs including Caverta, verta,  Generic Cialis, Meltabs and more.

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By Col. (ret) Joseph C. Kopacz, August 10, 2006 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting.  Mr David Brooks in his 10 Aug NYT’s “Party No. 3” article calls for a McCain - Leiberman political party, then lists all of the things they agree on.  However, he never says anything about the elephant in the living room - the undeclared Iraqi war that they both voted to “authorize” instead of doing their Constitutional duty and declaring.  For some unknown and/or illogical reason they both still support that total waste of American warrior blood and bucks (well over 10 billion a month if you include equipment losses and replacement dollars).  May I suggest they name their party the American - Israel or, perhaps, the Israeli - American party; after all we have to remember who is wagging the dog.

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By Daniel Haszard, August 6, 2006 at 9:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eli Lilly is a big drug company that puts profits over patients.
Daniel Haszard Bangor Maine zyprexa caused my diabetes http://www.zyprexa-victims.com

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 23, 2006 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment
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That J. Lieberman was an advocate of the Iraqi war and continues to defend its disastrous results should not come as a surprise or unnatural from a diehard Zionist who will always put the interests of the theocratic terrorist state of Israel before the intrests of America. After all, the Iraqi war architects were mainly Zionists or blackmailed by Israel for secrets they know, like the Israeli Mossad’s planning and execution of 9/11 on behalf of the neoconservatives, who should be rightly called the neo-Nazis.
Moreover, Lieberman is a servant and advocate of the military indusrial complex in America, those I would like to call merchants of death, who would do anything humanly degrading to serve the bottom line; the mighty filthy dollar. When we know that this evil complex is an extension of evil Zionism, then we should not blame Lieberman for serving his two most important causes which happened to be intertwined. The ones to be blamed are the ignorant and misled American voters who voted for this snake that many times!

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By zenseeker, July 14, 2006 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Slap the truth out of Joe Lieberman is now done at: http://zenwire.com/flashmedia-slaplieberman.php

See if you can score over 400, (godly), when you take a break from another war!

Enjoy the games guys, and the next one has to do about tomatoes!

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By Bob N., July 14, 2006 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
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Shouldn’t we be wary of those who wear religion on their sleeve? We have Lieberman and Abramoff. Then of course there is Delay, Reid, Rove, Scalia, Falwell, Roberston, and the man himself who talks to God, George Bush. And then there is Hillary praying on every other page of her book. Not to mention the ludicrous situation of Bill and the Rev. Jackson praying together. Who says the public can’t be foole all the time. It is fool me once, fool me twice, and keep on fooling me.

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By Joe, July 14, 2006 at 2:04 am Link to this comment
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Get the straight facts direct from the Connecticut for Lieberman Party’s official blog:

http://liebermania.blogspot.com

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By bob johnson, July 14, 2006 at 1:32 am Link to this comment
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liebermam in bed with the drug companies,hah!thats just a start,with joe holding dual citizenship in the usa and israel,who`s god does joe really serve.yes the war is about oil and protecting israel.that simple,from a simple mined president.

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By big Dave from queens, July 13, 2006 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment
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not to fear, I’m sure LIEberman will get paid several million dollars to lobby for corporations along with more dough as a fox news correspondent once he’s voted out of office.

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By Baronscarpia, July 13, 2006 at 5:35 am Link to this comment
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Let’s not forget if that “Mr. Courage” from Connecticut had had the guts to run ONLY for Vice President in 2000, rather than “keeping his options open” by simultaneously running for re-election as Senator, he would be thinking now about running for President in 2008 to take over for Al Gore.  Certainly at least 250 voters in Florida voted for Bush instead of Gore because of his running mate’s gutless decision. 

Oh wait - that was not a selfish decision, was it?  That, like his decision to run as an independent this year, was a selfless gesture to his Connecticut constituency.  Right.

And let’s not forget that while he proudly claims he voted against Alito’s confirmation, in fact he was one of the 14 Democrats who voted for cloture, killing the only weapon that Democrats had to stop the worst USSC nominee that progessives and liberals have had to swallow in the last half century, including Scalia.  Yeah - man of great principles, that Joe Lieberman.

Oh, and let’s also pause to recall that it was Joe Lieberman who practically fell over his tongue running to the White House to embrace Bush’s efforts to bring religion into our government.

Joe Lieberman represents the very worst of what so-called “centrist” DLC Democrats have to offer.  They may individually vote here and there as the Democratic Party in general votes, but as a group they trend very far right of “the middle,” and for my money Joe Lieberman has gone so far to the right he might just as well skip the independent ruse and sign up as a Republican.  What the hell.  They’re kissing buddies as it is.

Last week Ed Schultz devoted a lot of “Air America” time defending Joe Lieberman, stating that just because someone might disagree with us on “a few issues” that was no reason to “throw him under the bus.”

Beep beep.

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By zenseeker, July 13, 2006 at 4:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have you guys seen the Ann Coulter Dominatrix Flash game where Uncle Sam dishes out what’s coming to her: http://zenwire.com/flashmedia-anncoulter.php.  It was a remake of the July 4th flash game where uncle Sam is seen throwing knives at Joe Lieberman called Back Stabbing Lieberman.  Check it out at here: http://zenwire.com/flashmedia-lieberman.php.  There are also other games there:  bush rampage, bush-rice-terror, bush shootout, dancing bush and Blair and other political games as well.  Look for “Slap Joe Lieberman Silly” flash game to be posted soon.

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By Karhu, July 13, 2006 at 4:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting that his new party is called “Connecticut for Lieberman” and not vice versa…

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By TruthPlease, July 12, 2006 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All this says is that when a politician reaches the real halls of power - there really is only one party now = $$$$$.  After all, everyone wants job security, right?  How about outsourcing those jobs to save the American taxpayer some dough?  Might be worth it just to watch the those out-of-work gasbags scramble to survive on low wages in the “new economy”.

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