December 10, 2005


Lieberman's Pro-War Views Concern Dems (ANDREW MIGA, December 10, 2005, Associated Press)

Sen. Joe Lieberman's staunch stay-the-course defense of President Bush's Iraq policies isn't winning him any friends among fellow Democrats.

Lieberman's pro-war views may be winning him praise from a grateful White House, but some Democratic colleagues see him as undercutting their party's efforts to wrest control of Congress from the GOP next fall.

"He's doing damage to the ability of Democrats to wage a national campaign," said Ken Dautrich, a University of Connecticut public policy professor. "It's Lieberman being Lieberman. And it's frustrating for people trying to put a Democratic strategy together."

How dare he put his country above partisan politics?

Joe Republican?: Why President Bush loves Sen. Lieberman. (John Dickerson, Dec. 9, 2005, Slate)

Bush hasn't just cherry-picked Lieberman's complimentary remarks about Iraq policy. The president has also embraced Lieberman's criticism. He said the senator was correct to charge that "mistakes had been made" in the prosecution of the war. That's just a flicker of candor, but it's new for the president. The old Bush would have tweezed the good bits from Lieberman and pretended the criticisms didn't exist. Today's embattled Bush is trying to show those who doubt him that he sees things clearly. Embracing Lieberman's criticisms, however gingerly, helps Bush show that he's awake without looking like he's caving to political pressure from lefty partisans.

Lieberman benefits by the association as well. He gets to do a McCain. He has a free pass to candor. He can beat up President Bush and praise him—both help his image. As with McCain, Lieberman's showy acts of centrism inspire the hatred of the ideological core of his party. Lieberman rattled their blogs when he preached recently: "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more years. We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril."

Lieberman is running for a fourth term in 2006, but angering liberals in his party won't hurt much. He's popular and has no real opponent. His former rival Lowell Weicker, whom he beat in 1988 before Weicker jumped from the GOP to become an independent, is mulling a challenge, but that's more a nuisance than a competitive threat.

Unlike McCain, Lieberman isn't going to be able to translate his maverick status into national electoral success.

Lieberman Wins Republican Friends, Democratic Enemies With Support for War (Shailagh Murray, 12/10/05, Washington Post)
Lieberman's contrarian behavior is not out of character -- he is far more hawkish than the majority of Democrats, and he has vigorously backed invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein from the beginning. But the latest defense of Bush and his stinging salvos at some in his own party have infuriated Democrats, who say he is undercutting their effort to forge a consensus on the war and draw clear distinctions with Republicans before the 2006 elections.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is troubled by Lieberman's comments, Reid's aides said. "I've talked to Senator Lieberman, and unfortunately he is at a different place on Iraq than the majority of the American people," Reid said yesterday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters this week that "I completely disagree" with Lieberman. She added: "I believe that we have a responsibility to speak out if we think that the course of action that our country is on is not making the American people safer, making our military stronger and making the region more stable."

Liberal political groups, including Democracy for America and, are considering ways to retaliate, including backing a challenge to Lieberman in next year's Democratic primary. Former senator and Connecticut governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr., an opponent of the war, has vowed to run as an independent, absent a strong Democratic or Republican challenge to Lieberman.

Remember how the President was castigated for not buttering Jim Jeffords scones back in '01 and blamed for him bolting the Party? What doi Democrats think they're doing by openly attacking Mr. Lieberman, who actually has better job offers than junior senator of a permanent minority?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 10, 2005 7:40 AM

This emphasis on Lieberman is unseemly. He's a proven liar, but even if he were sincere in this instance, what does it matter? He's not going to change the hearts or minds of fellow liberals nor convince terrorists to stop killing innocents in the name of Allah.

Our best bet in '06 and '08 is for Democrats to continue drifting leftward and for Democratic spokespeople to continue making bizarre anti-war/anti-American/anti-Bush statements and for the media to keep reporting them nonstop.

Kerry captured on video tape lecturing our troops to stop raiding Iraqi homes in the middle of night scaring women and children is worth a thousand mealy-mouthed senators from Connecticut making mewling pseudo-sincere statements about his support for the war.

Who knows what Lieberman hopes to gain? I believe Rumsfeld when he says he's not retiring and unless you believe that Bush will fire him, Rumsfeld will stay at his post.

Posted by: erp at December 10, 2005 8:10 AM

If you ban liars you'll run out of folks pretty quick.

Posted by: oj at December 10, 2005 8:43 AM

Lowell Weicker used to be a Republican. It would be amusing if Lieberman changed his party affiliation and became a Republican. Then we'd have an ex-RINO (Weicker) battling a current RINO (Lieberman) at the polls. It would be in character for Connecticutt, which is about as true-blue a state as you can get.

Posted by: Zhang Fei at December 10, 2005 9:57 AM

Maybe Joe's trying to position himself as McCain's running mate in '08?

Posted by: b at December 11, 2005 12:14 AM