OTR Interviews

Lieberman Shares His 'Gift of Rest'

Sen. Joe Lieberman discusses his new book and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you know Senator Lieberman, former Democratic candidate for vice president, gave Governor Sarah Palin advice when she was the Republican candidate for vice president? It happened back in 2008 when the senator jumped the political aisle and threw his support behind presidential contender Senator John McCain and his running mate vice presidential candidate Governor Palin.

So what happened? It is one of the many personal and political stories Senator Lieberman reports in his new book, "The Gift of Rest." Earlier today, we asked Senator Joe Lieberman about it.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, I-CONN.: Greta, good to be with you. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. I thought your book was absolutely delightful and instructive.

LIEBERMAN: That makes me feel wonderful, thank you. It's something very different than what I've done before. It is from inside. To have that kind of reaction means a lot to me.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if I could be as disciplined as you are and as many are. I realize this crossed many faiths the idea of honoring the Sabbath. I sure can appreciate putting the brakes on for 24 hours, stepping back and having traditions with the family and getting out of rat race putting things on hold for 24 hours.

LIEBERMAN: Boy, did you get the purpose of the book. I write about the Sabbath from the point of view of the traditional view wish practice which I've experienced as a gift, the gift of rest. But I'm really hoping that people of any religion or no religion understand and appreciate from the book the importance of stopping and putting the electronics away and spending time on matters of spirit and family and just being with yourself.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know my husband if he's watching going to yell at me later always telling me to get rid of the BlackBerry you are on the cell phone, computer all the time. So I hope he's not watching. I read the book, how you and your family as part of honoring the Sabbath, you have family traditions you plan for it. It is not some sort of fly by night 24 hours. This has taken years and has been enriching to your family.

LIEBERMAN: It really has. These are traditions that go back thousands of years to the commandments that god gave Moses on Mount Sinai. But over the years the rabbis have filled in spaces to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. And customs have arisen, like the idea of bringing your wife flowers for the afternoon and blessing your children.

But the heart of it is really to stop work. It is hard to do that these days. My toughest part preparing for the Sabbath is Friday afternoon when I have to turn off the blackberry and cell phone. But once I do, I really feel liberated. I hope people who read the book will decide to follow some of the recommendations I make for beginning to do parts of what your religion, anybody's religion, and my commonsense recommendations tell you that you might do to put a little more rest in your life.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is not always workable. A couple of interesting incidents where you had to break -- not to take away from the many Sabbaths you have kept -- that you haven't broken. But, January 20th, 2001, Inauguration Day, you had to walk from your home in Georgetown to the capitol. You couldn't be a bad sport and not show up because you had been on the losing ticket, or so the court said.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. That was a day when I felt that if as a senator I would be on Inauguration Day. January 20th just happened to be a Saturday and my wife and I decided we have to go out of respect for the new president the new vice president. We didn't want to drive. That would have been a violation of the rules of the Sabbath. We walked the four and a half miles. And I was glad that we did.

There are other occasions when my public responsibilities, either for national security or even budget matters have required me to do some things that I normally wouldn't do on the Sabbath. My religion and the tradition tells me when I have the ability to protect life or improve life, which after all the Sabbath is supposed to be about honoring life, then life has to take precedence over the specific religious law. I try not to let that happen often, but when it does, I feel OK in doing the Sabbath a little differently than I normally would.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have given advice in 2008 to Governor Palin that you write about in the story.

LIEBERMAN: That was a really interesting moment. As you know, I supported my amigo John McCain for president that year. And the campaign asked me to come up when Governor Palin was practicing for her debate, which was about a week away. And I had met her before. I had seen her at the convention. I was impressed by the speech she gave. She was just down that guy. The McCain campaign was upset about it.

And they took a break. And John's campaign manager, one of them, said you have something in common with Sarah Palin that we don't. I said what's that? He said you are both religious. Why don't you talk to her? I thought what a great American Judeo-Christian moment.

But it is true, we are both religious. I said how are you doing? She said honestly it was a tough day. She didn't feel right. We started to talk about the opportunity that she had been given and how she had a responsibility to make the most of it. We talked about the story of Queen Esther from the Bible about moments of destiny. It was just a great conversation. I don't take credit for the fact I think she performed well in the debate.

But I tell that story, because it is taking some of the central ideas of the Sabbath, which is about fulfilling our personal destinies and putting them into that particular moment in a way that I hope was helpful to her.

VAN SUSTEREN: The book is a good read. Like I said, I don't think I'm as disciplined as you are, but I certainly see the value of what you have done all these years. Senator, nice to see you as always.

LIEBERMAN: Greta, thank you. As I say in the book we can all make our own Sabbaths. Try to do a little of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, I the part about the flowers. I thought I would remind -- I was going to help my husband with that one. There's good advice for my husband in here.


LIEBERMAN: I will send a copy to your husband with a paper clip on that page.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you. Great to be with you.