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Lieberman for the Defense. Heir to a lost Democratic tradition.

The remarkable recent makeover of the U.S. Senate continued this week, with announcements by North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad and Democrat-Independent Joe Lieberman that they won't run for re-election in 2012. Mr. Lieberman, now in his fourth term, will be missed.

We recall rooting for the Connecticut Democrat as he challenged Republican Lowell Weicker in 1988, and we haven't regretted it. Mr. Lieberman described himself yesterday as a John F. Kennedy Democrat who didn't fit easily into today's partisan alignments. That is true on tax policy, where he has supported low tax rates in the JFK tradition so alien to most modern Democrats. Less admirably, he provided the 60th vote for ObamaCare, for which his grandchildren will pay and pay if it isn't repealed.

The Connecticut Senator was most well known for his hawkish views on national security, where he was just about the only Democrat who voted for the Iraq war who didn't abandon the fight when it got difficult.

His 2005 op-ed in this newspaper supporting President George W. Bush on Iraq led to his defeat in the Democratic Senate primary in 2006, though he had been the party's vice presidential nominee only six years earlier. He ran and won as an independent in the general election and has continued to speak for a robust defense budget and antiterror strategy. The tragedy is that he will leave the Senate with no like-minded Democrats remaining—not one.

A third of the Senate has now turned over since 2008, and after the 2012 elections it might approach half. We hope for the good of the country that some younger Democrat picks up the Truman-JFK-Henry Jackson-Joe Lieberman foreign policy mantle.
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