February 26th, 2007

Lieberman: carrying that big stick

Senator Lieberman has had a strange year. His ostracism from the Democratic Party failed to stop his re-election, and has paradoxically put him in a stronger position than ever–although, for many reasons, I doubt he’ll ever hold national office, even were he to switch parties.

In such an evenly divided Senate he holds the threat of upsetting the balance between the parties were Joe–now an Independent (like me!)–to defect. Despite the fact that he votes with the Republicans on security issues, he’s still not officially tied to them, and thus the Democrats hold onto their slim majority and their power over all the committees. Lieberman’s rejection by his fellow-Democrats has bought him a certain amount of freedom–and potential power to gum up the works and rain on the Democratic parade, were he to make an outright switch to Republican, a possiblity he has wisely refused to rule out.

With that in mind, Lieberman has written an appeal to Congress. It appeared in today’s Opinion Journal, explaining exactly what’s at stake and why members of Congress needs to focus on reality instead of playing petty games. The tone strikes me as reasonable and measured, practical and realistic. But it’s backed up with an implicit threat of Lieberman’s power of defection, nowhere mentioned in the piece:

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq–or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?

I fear if the truth be known that many in Congress would answer: the latter.

Lieberman then goes on to detail the differences between the new approach and the old. He agrees that there’s no way of guaranteeing the former’s success, but:

We are now in a stronger position to ensure basic security–and with that, we are in a stronger position to marginalize the extremists and strengthen the moderates; a stronger position to foster the economic activity that will drain the insurgency and militias of public support; and a stronger position to press the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that everyone acknowledges are necessary for progress.

Unfortunately, for many congressional opponents of the war, none of this seems to matter. As the battle of Baghdad just gets underway, they have already made up their minds about America’s cause in Iraq, declaring their intention to put an end to the mission before we have had the time to see whether our new plan will work.

True, and very shortsighted, as well as cowardly. Lieberman points out their basic lack of bravery in refusing to do what they should do if they really believe what they say: cut the funding. Instead, they are proposing the death of a thousand cuts–the “slow bleed.”

Lieberman again:

Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown. Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake–assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

Lieberman then appeals to his colleagues to give peace a chance–peace in Congress, that is. He asks for a moratorium on political squabbling till the end of summer, in order to give General Petraeus and the plan some time to begin to prove itself, or not.

My guess is that his pleas will fall on deaf ears. But don’t forget–Lieberman may be walking softly, but he’s carrying a big stick–the stick of his potential defection.

48 Responses to “Lieberman: carrying that big stick”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Democrats have always taken for granted the people under their control. Perhaps their arrogance in time, will spell their downfall.

  2. Lee Says:

    Isn’t there one missing Democrat vote still? Is Tim Johnson of South Dakota still too infirmed to take his Senate seat?

  3. Robert Schwartz Says:

    The Dems made this bed for themselves.

    Lee: Johnson is still in rehab. There are 49 Dems in the Senate. Plus Sanders (Maoist, VT) and Joe, which gave the Dems 51 votes to organize the Senate. If Joe goes, the Rs have 50 votes plus the VP tie breaker. If Johnson does not vote, the R’s would not need Cheney’s vote, but if it made a difference, I am sure the Dems would put Johnson on a hospital gurney and wheel him into the senate.

  4. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    “Wheelin’em To The Senate” — sung to the tune of “Running With The Devil”


    Joe is awesome :)

  5. thomas joyce Says:

    I could never be a neo-neo-con because Senator Lieberman’s Piety fills me with a dread of being oiled. He is the political equivalent of Richard What’s-his-name the weight loss guy. But I share your concern for Shakespeare and am happy you pointed out the misquote from Romeo and Juliet. It is annoying to think she wonders where he is when he just left.

    I think Senator Lieberman could similarly use a Dramturgist. I do not know if you read anything that doesn’t fit your opinion, but this from Greenwald is devastating to Senator Lieberman. If we had a press… Please read and tell me what you think:

    Greenwald writes: “So whereas Lieberman is claiming now that everything is different today because we had no real strategy before for ensuring security, it was Lieberman himself who promised Americans in 2005 that we did have exactly such a strategy and that it was working so well that “we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007.”

    Just compare these two statements:

    Joe Lieberman, today: “previously there weren’t enough soldiers to hold key neighborhoods after they had been cleared of extremists and militias.”

    Joe Lieberman, 2005: “The administration’s recent use of the banner ‘clear, hold, and build’ accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.”

    How can Joe Lieberman claim today that we previously lacked sufficient troop strength to hold neighborhoods after they were cleared, when he insisted a year ago that we were holding neighborhoods — he saw it himself — and that we were therefore on the verge of success?

    On what conceivable basis is Joe Lieberman accorded even the most minimal respect or credibility? He is obviously a person who will say anything at any time in order to defend this war, and, now that everything he said in the past is revealed to be completely false, he does not have even an iota of integrity or honesty to admit any of that. Instead, he stands up and pretends that he never said any of those things — he actually pretends that he knew all along that our military strategy was wrong — and simply makes the same promises and commitments as he has been making all along with a sense of entitlement that he has credibility on these matters and should be listened to.

  6. Lee Says:

    thomas, probably the same mindset of the lefties who criticized Bush for “not having enough troops to keep the peace”, then after the surge was announced, said “more troops will only escalate the violence”.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    The point isn’t the Lieberman is some sort of master military strategist. I’m sure he is not. Nor are his colleagues in the Senate or the House. The point is that he is saying that someone they overwhelmingly approved of for the job–Petraeus–is saying this is a new and improved strategy with a fair chance of succeeding, and it’s only right to give it a chance. And he is pointing out their hypocrisy–if they really think it has no chance, they should have the guts to cut the funding entirely and protect the troops that are already there, rather than cutting the legs out from under them by doing the “slow bleed,” just to save their own political posteriors.

  8. Eric Chen Says:

    Thomas, neo-neocon:

    QandO addressed the Greenwald criticism of Lieberman here:

    QandO: “So it seems Lieberman was right when he said it had been done (Tall Afar)in 2005 and he was also right to say that for the most part there weren’t enough soldiers to do the same elsewhere (such as Baghdad), not that I expect you to ever admit it, Mr. Greenwald.”

  9. stumbley Says:

    Citing Glenn Greenwald for considered, intelligent opinion is like citing Bill Clinton for truth about interns.

  10. Sally Says:

    I think the comments of neo and Eric Chen (and McQ of QandO) have sufficiently answered Thomas — not to mention the rather despicable Glen Greenwald. What really impresses me about Lieberman, however, is exactly what has the likes of Greenwald foaming at the mouth — his willingness to speak aloud the obvious truth that the deliberately subversive, “slow-bleed” strategy of Murtha and Co. is on the very verge of treason. Greenwald got his underwear in a twist because he thought Lieberman had said that the feckless Congressional resolutions denouncing the Administration’s Iraq policies — just a component of the Democrats’ “slow-bleed” strategy — would give the enemy some “comfort” instead of some “encouragement” (which is what he did say). If the former “purposely tracks the treason language from the Constitution”, as Greenwald puts it, then I’m only sorry Lieberman didn’t use it — I think that those who play partisan political games when a nation’s troops are in combat and its vital interests at stake need to be put on notice that they are indeed running perilously close to betraying the nation for their political advantage.

  11. Wild Rice Says:

    Gen. Pace: Military Capability Eroding

  12. John Masters (JAM) Says:

    You made this point about Sen. Lieberman much clearer than I could have in a month of trying. It’s hard to believe such a turn of fate from the man whom Michael Moore castigated and laughed at after the Democratic primary. Everyone thought he was down AND out. Now he’s easily one of the 5 most powerful people in the Senate, for the time being at least.

    I also wonder about the Democrats that were recently elected that were supposedly centrist, if not a little bit right. Can the Pelosi, Murtha, etc., crowd count on these new folks to toe the extreme left line when Pelosi wants them to?

  13. Wild Rice Says:

    Watching Afghanistan fall

  14. Senescent Wasp Says:

    Something interesting is happening. Gallup and Zogby polls both point to Giuliani’s popularity with some of the base, centrist Republican’s, independents and many Dem’s. Rudi’s popularity seems to derive from perceptions of “leadership” immediately after 9/11. Similarly, Lieberman seems to be perceived as a non-Koolaid drinker and a independent actor bucking the conventional un-wisdom of his party’s leadership.

    In the final analysis, it is public perception that will elect a president. Both men seem to be perceived as adults counterpoised against immature opponents. Hillary is the Queen of Foulmouthed Shews, McCain seems to have never grown out of adolescent temper tantrums and Edwards is the empty shirt born to be senior class president with nice hair. Obama is of course, not fully matured in fact; lacking in experience and any kind of bona fides.

    Across the political field, Giuliani Lieberman and, perhaps, Gingrich seem to be the only adults in view. And, God knows this country would benefit from adult leadership.

  15. thomas joyce Says:

    whew! That is quite an exercise in ‘contextualizing’ to liberate Lieberman. I would wish Lieberman on neo-neo con, but you seem a nice rational person trying to make sense of the world and, really, I wouldn’t wish Lieberman on anybody. Lieberman says what he says and people who support him always say, “Well, if you understand the context, it isn’t an outright lie.” Really you can have him.

    From his pledge to caucus with the Democrats, to his saying he sees troop ‘drawdowns’, to his status as Fox News Favorite Liberal, Lieberman is clearly an acquired taste. When I see him (as I said) I see Richard Simmons, all oiled up and happy the camera is on him.

    And I know there are many people who love cameras and the sound of their own voice, especially people whom I admire. Lieberman is not the only self-righteous, self-serving ‘statesman in his/her own mind’, but he is the worst.

    What gets me is how often people cite this Senator as the “Conscience of America” and then go through intellectual gyrations to save Lieberman from his own words.

    No matter how you cut his words, and I know that the woman who can quote Shakespeare so accurately knows this is true, Lieberman praised the Iraq plan in 2005 in the WSJ as working and then two years later said what is different now is that for the first time we have a plan that will work.

    If Bush was granted an eternal Presidency and this war lasted another 4 years, 4 years from now Lieberman will write in the WSJ that Democrats need to be silent and give THIS NEXT NEW plan a chance.

    The extent that I admire neo-neo, which is great, is the only reason I don’t say “Take Joseph Lieberman. Please.” As far as I am concerned, someone else can have him. His oily brand of smarmy self-importance makes me vomit.

  16. Senescent Wasp Says:

    T. Joyce is awarded the Content Free Comment of the Day. Lots of feelings, a paucity of actual analysis and much “…sound and fury signifying nothing”. T.J., are you related to your name sake as in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake?

  17. thomas joyce Says:

    dear Senescant Wasp

    Thank you for the award. I have no idea if I am related to Joyce or not. I tried to make three points:

    first, that one has to twist Lieberman’s words to make them consistent (defenders lose me when they take Lieberman’s words outside of everyday English and make them say what they clearly don’t say, a version of “Lieberman’s words as a living document” that needs constant updating because when he says “things are going great, so my fellow Democrats please shut up” in 2005 what he REALLY meant was “in one province with insufficient troop levels and insufficient training methods elsewhere, things are great, so Democrats please shut up…” (Why don’t we hold people accountable in America? remember the prewar estimate of how much the war would cost? Apparently neither the media, the voters or anyone who made such estimates does.);

    second, that I find Senator Lieberman the oiliest of many, many, public hypocrites, and I tried to add the admission that there are many hypocrites on my side of issues; so saying the self-annointed Saint Joseph is the worst is saying a lot;

    and third, that since I am not partisan in the blogosphere sense of that word, I like neo-neo con and wouldn’t wish Lieberman on her even if she felt Lieberman were on her side.

    If Lieberman has your back, God have mercy on you.

  18. Lee Says:

    Gee, Wild Reich, aren’t you articulate enough to express yourself in your OWN words?

  19. Lee Says:

    And thomas joyce, I find it amusing that you claim everyone else is “interpreting” Lieberman’s statements, then you give us your “interpretation” of what he’s really saying.

  20. Lee Says:

    Be sure to mention he’s “oily” in your next posting, too.

  21. Wild Rice Says:

    Majority in poll favors deadline for Iraq pullout

  22. Wild Rice Says:

    Israel to ask U.S. for more military aid

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’m starting to notice something, Neo. It has to do with wisdom and why people on the Left love politics, but they do not truly have a cosmopolitan perspective on subjects like Romeo and Juliet and various other things, cultural or philosophical.

    Why is that….

    It is like if they truly have a strong view about politics, should this not inform their behavior and views on everything else if only because it is inherent to their philosophy, political or otherwise?

    This can be taken too far of course, and not just in the paranoia sense. But I tend to think it is healthy for a person to be able to connect different and diversified pieces of information with each other, cross referencing and producing something uniquely identifiable to that person’s way of thinking.

    The Leftist behavior concerning the Un, Hugo, Amanie, Saddam, and Bush seems more and more one dimensional to me. There is no nuance, because there is no depth. There is no heart, no spirit, Neo. Why is there no spirit to the philosophy of the Left?

  24. Lee Says:

    Ymar, in order to have “spirit”, one needs to acknowledge “spirituality” in oneself. Since there is no spirituality in themselves, there is none in their philosophy. Oh, sure, they equate “anger” and “passion” with “spirit”, but emotionality is not the same. For example, their “compassion” doesn’t come from within, nor is it an expression of their regard for their fellow man, but merely a club they use to prove they are “better” than you. Which is why their “humanitarian” policies always fail.

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think thomas may have a slightly prejudicial outlook on Lieberman.

  26. Lee Says:

    Never seem to be able to continue “deep” trains of thought once I get going. I’m sure my last post was pretty incongruous.

  27. Wild Rice Says:

    I was listening to radio a program while driving the other day and I heard something that I thought would interest the Neocon wackos (and I mean that in the nicest way) that inhabit this blog.

    The program is the Diane Rehm Show and it is available here. Go to minute 34:30 to where Diane Rehm says, “It is interesting because in your book, Andrew, you say that George W Bush had to ask his father who the Neocons were” (the transcription may not be exact). The answer is, “The Israelis”.

    If this were not so serious this administration would be the greatest comedy show on earth. But it is serious. As the saying goes, “Cheney lies and soldiers die”.

  28. thomas joyce Says:

    dear dear Neo and company. I do dislike Senator Lieberman. With his great ability to get media attention I wish I didn’t. As a Catholic I wish I could be compassionate to everyone. If I make it to Heaven you will know one of three things: a. God has a vigorous Affirmative Action Initiative; b. God has bad bookkeeping; or c. Grace is infinite.

    Perhaps Yamarskar is correct about all the passion and philosophy and spirit and spirituality being on his side. That would be nice because all great living can be had by reading William Kristol. It will save future generations so much time and effort.

    I would just like to counter balance that observation by copying Ymarskar, “I am starting to notice something, Neo, The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” why is that? Just musing and brainstorming here…..

    oh and hooray for everyone who agrees with everything I say, they must be superior

  29. Sally Says:

    The answer is, “The Israelis”.

    Yeahh, exacly man, the Israelis! (Notice I didn’t say the Joos.) It’s always the ‘Israelis’, innit?! ‘Dja notice that? Like, it’s probly ‘Israelis’ running this blog too! I mean, that’s why you never see her face, man!! Think about it!!!

    Good thing ther’s some non-whacko people like Mr. Rice here who are so devoted to watching this blog day and night, and posting little links, just in case any of its Jew- — I mean Israeli — lovers try anything funny, right? Know whut I mean?

  30. Lee Says:

    Gee, Wild Reich, sorry I asked. The first time in three weeks or so you actually express yourself rather than link to someone else’s words, and the only thing you can say is you hate Jews. Nothing new there, which is why you have earned the nickname “Wild Reich”.

  31. Lee Says:

    Go back to links. At least most of the articles you point to are more “subtle” in their anti-semitism.

  32. Sally Says:

    As for Thomas — you’re not fond of Joe Lieberman. We get it. We got it a while back. You think he’s “oily”. Fine. You should learn, however, that merely repeating yourself is not an argument or a response to an argument. Who knows — learning that much might even help you make it to heaven.

  33. Lee Says:

    And thomas joyce, that goes for you, too. I think when you said you and like-minded people are “superior”, you really meant “master”, as in “master race”. The first time you chime in is to rail against Lieberman, now the only other name you bring up is “Kristol”? Aren’t there any “gentiles” you disagree with?

  34. Lee Says:

    Darn it Sally, quit saying what I’m saying 30 seconds before I say it.

  35. thomas joyce Says:

    wow! that didn’t take long. If someone disagrees with the editor of a magazine and a senator that person is anti-Semitic? I mentioned Mr. Kristol because he is influential and his magazine is even more influential. I voted for Senator Lieberman in 2000 when he was the Democratic candidate for Vice President (or ‘Democrat candidate’ for the passionate and spiritual among you).

    Oh well. Here are some people I do not like, and I hope these people aren’t Jewish (I loved Sammy Davis, Jr., but he converted): I do not really like Hillary Clinton, I wish she would not have run, I do not like Al Sharpton nor his historically-linked partner in the American Tragedy that was Slavery, Strom Thurmond, I do not like Brit Hume. In 2000 I told my wife I would vote for John McCain simply because that year he spoke English directly.

    One more thing, if I could have fought in Afghanistan to pay them back for 911, I would have. I am not sure I am a stereotype and I hope you are not either.

    I am new to the Blogosphere, but I am still shocked at how quickly I went from being a reasonable (but alas! Redundant, for which I apologize) voice to an accusation that I am anti-Semitic.

    Wow. Oops. I said that before sorry. Didn’t anyone like my anti-Affirmative Action joke? I though it was witty….

  36. Wild Rice Says:

    that didn’t take long.“:

    They’re cute, the Neocons, aren’t they, when they spew their bile all about.

  37. Sally Says:

    …when they spew their bile all about.

    Awww, Riceroni! You’re letting them get to you, aren’t you? If you want to grow up to be a real troll, you know, it’s not good enough just to be obsessed — you have to have both a thick skin and a thicker head. Keep trying, though — maybe another few (hundred) headlines from Salon, Pravda, etc., will pick up your spirits….

  38. Lee Says:

    I find it disingenious that after sounding and typing like an anti-semite, then being called on it, the anti-semites then claim being victimized merely for “disagreeing” with someone. NOW, thomas joyce, do you try to sound rational. In your case, the accusation may be premature, but in my personal experience, I haven’t been wrong so far. The fact that Wild Reich comes so quickly to your defense is just one more indicator. So, thomas joyce, if you don’t like the label anti-semite, if you want to be taken seriously and a mere ideological opponent, stop sounding like an anti-semite. Unlike Wild Reich(check previous postings for evidence), TC, and justaguy who have shown their nazi stripes over and over, I’ll give you another chance.

  39. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Wheelin’ Him To The Senate

    Sung to the tune of Van Halen’s – Running With The Devil Lyrics

    Yeah, Yeah! Ah, yeah!

    Lefties live their lives like there’s no tomorrow

    And if it’s a senate vote they have to steal

    Roll Tim Johnson up those granite steps

    On his gurney wheels

    Oooh, yeah

    Wheelin’ him to the senate (Ahh-hah! Yeah!)

    (Woo-hoo-oo!) Wheelin’ him to the senate

    I’m gonna tell ya all about it

    They found the simple life ain’t so simple

    ‘Cause if Joe goes Republican they’ll have 50 votes

    Plus the VP tie breaker

    Oooh, yeah, get that man a punch card!

    Wheelin’ him to the senate (Ahh-hah! Yeah!)

    (Woo-hoo-oo!) Wheelin’ him to the senate

  40. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Oh, and dearie me, what just rocks beyond belief is the subsequent guitar solo. Ahh-hah! Yeah!

  41. Lee Says:

    Wierd Isaiah Yankovich!

  42. Lee Says:

    In fact, you guys know what? That phrase of thomas joyce’s “wow, that didn’t take long” sounds to me like he “expected” to be labeled anti-semite sooner or later. Doesn’t it?

  43. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Ahh-hah! Yeah!

  44. Ymarsakar Says:

    Perhaps Yamarskar is correct about all the passion and philosophy and spirit and spirituality being on his side.

    The lack of it on your side is no proof of a presence on another’s.

    That would be nice because all great living can be had by reading William Kristol.

    I seriously doubt that William Kristol could offer guerrila and psychological warfare derivatives of many of Neo’s best posts (series), let alone any greater number of items.

  45. Wild Rice Says:

    I find it disingenious…“:

    Oh look. There’s one how. How sweet. Its OK cuttie, we’re watching.

  46. Lee Says:

    Yes, Wild Reich, I AM WATCHING! My pet peeve is NAZIS like you. Nothing gives me more pleasure than exposing you and your ilk. If you have a problem with that, I suggest you go to ziopedia where your hate speech will be welcome. Better hurry though, I hear they’re shutting down for lack of donations. Can you help, Wild Reich?

  47. Wild Rice Says:

    US commanders admit: we face a Vietnam-style collapse

  48. Lee Says:

    The only way Iraq will collapse “Vietnam style” is if Congress defunds it, which is how Vietnam finally collapsed.

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