Joe Lieberman's Unfriendly Sendoff, With Daily Kos Leftist As Escort

Reporters David Halbfinger and Elizabeth Harris gave a not-very friendly sendoff to independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who announced he would not seek another term in the Senate, in "For Lieberman, an Exit Forged in Alienation and Disaffection."

The Times let blogger Markos Moulitsas of the left-wing blog Daily Kos take a victory lap upon Lieberman's announcement. Markos escorted Lieberman, loathed by the left for his Iraq War support and other heresies, out the Senate door in his typically graceless fashion.

Perhaps no one could claim credit for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's decision not to seek a fifth term more than Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the liberal blog Daily Kos. In 2006, Mr. Moulitsas mobilized like-minded Democrats to try to unseat Mr. Lieberman as punishment for supporting the Iraq war and for being too accommodating to President George W. Bush.

Mr. Moulitsas even appeared in television commercials with Ned Lamont, the antiwar liberal who defeated Mr. Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary that year (only to lose to Mr. Lieberman, running as an independent, in the general election).

On Wednesday, as Mr. Lieberman gave an upbeat valedictory speech, surrounded by 200 supporters at a hotel in his hometown, Stamford, Conn., Mr. Moulitsas took a few self-congratulatory bows of his own.

Only one friend and supporter of Lieberman was quoted: John Droney, a former Connecticut State Democratic chairman, and not even he was wholly understanding of Lieberman.

Yet, if the party pushed him away, Mr. Droney conceded, Mr. Lieberman kept moving, embittered by the 2006 primary rejection.

"After that happens, Joe's very upset," Mr. Droney said. "He says: 'Wait a minute, I got out of Yale Law School, I was one of the youngest state senators, I was majority leader, I ran for Congress, I was the first activist attorney general, I was elected to the United States Senate in a very difficult election against Lowell Weicker, I served my country well, I ran for vice president and actually was elected by the popular vote and, now, because these people don't like my foreign-policy position, they're supposed to ignore 30 years? No way!' And he resented it, and it's been reflected ever since."

If insiders were acutely aware of Mr. Lieberman's alienation, ordinary voters sensed it, too.

After sound-bites from two dispirited former Lieberman supporters, the reporters returned to leftist Moulitsas for the closer.

Mr. Moulitsas, in an interview by e-mail, said this was the heart of Mr. Lieberman's problem: "The voters back home couldn't stand his shenanigans, and that's why he quit." He wrote, "What we saw today was a concession speech, not a retirement one."

The Times had a much fonder goodbye in the January 3 edition for inflammatory, controversial liberal Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida. While the Times didn't quote a single one of Grayson's political opponents, the paper extensively quoted left-wing Moulitsas criticisms of Lieberman.