Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lieberman sez: Give war a chance
Somewhere in the last few years, Joe Lieberman has gone from someone I disagreed with and found mildly annoying, to someone I heartily detest. In his Clinton era role as a moral scold, I found him annoying, but somewhat useful as a counterbalance to the media-generated perception of Democrats as the party of immorality. And I credited him with speaking from conviction. When he continued to support the war in Iraq, long after it went sour, though I strongly disagreed with him, I was still able to allow that he was speaking from conviction, though I also began to suspect that there was an element of inability to own up to his mistakes mixed in. His astounding display of open, narcissistic ego and embrace of dirty campaigning in the last election should have been the final straw in destroying the last vestiges of respect I had for him, except for one thing: I had already lost those last vestiges a few months earlier.

It was this sentence that ended an illusions I had that he was entitled to even the smallest degree of respect: "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." To say that any political leader should be above criticism is a betrayal of the most basic principles of American democracy. An office holder who is either so ignorant or opposed to what this country is about is unfit for office.

Again, that should be enough to end the book of Joe Lieberman, but it was the beginning of something weirder and genuinely pathological. More and more, Lieberman seem to think he has to shield the Bush administration from criticism on any issue. If it was just the war, we might be able to chalk his behavior up to base opportunism; he knows his own reputation is tied up with Bush's and this will be the only issue that matters. But it's not just the war. Lieberman has arranged for Bush to get any nominee he makes to any office. Lieberman wants to cancel oversight hearings into the disastrous Katrina response. And his defense of the war has taken on a truly pathetic tone.

Witness him today, actually begging his colleagues to let Bush have his way and not utter a breath of official criticism.
During Gen. David Petraeus' hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) took time out to "make a plea to [his] colleagues in the Senate" to "put the brakes" on the gathering bipartisan momentum for a nonbinding resolution condemning the president's plan to increase troops in Iraq.

The Senate should "step back for a moment and give you [Gen. Petraeus] a chance…. Perhaps a last chance, to succeed in Iraq," Lieberman said. "If God forbid, you are unable to succeed, then there will be plenty of time for the resolutions of disapproval or the other alternatives that have been contemplated."

Giving the plan a chance sounds so simple and fair that you almost forget that it involves giving Bush everything he wants and not even voicing a word of doubt. Giving the plan a chance means sending twenty-one thousand more young people into harm's way and assuring that many of them will die, while sticking those who survive with a few tens of billions of dollars extra debt for this disaster. Does "time for the resolutions of disapproval" include apologies to the families of the unnecessary dead and to the physically and mentally shattered?

I have a better plan that should be given a chance. Let's end Bush's war and bring the troops home as quickly as can be managed. Let's have oversight hearings into every aspect of this administration from the war to Katrina to granting contracts. Let's have robust confirmation hearings on every nominee he sends to the senate and assure the American people have civil servants who are competent, moderate and unbeholden to outside interests. Oh, and let's get the people of Connecticut to recall their independent senator and replace him with a Democrat.

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