THE BLOG
08/07/2006 04:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Joe Lieberman's Pathetic Hail Mary Pass on Iraq

Let's hope Joe Lieberman's Hail Mary toss on Iraq isn't the wave of the future for the Democratic Party.

In their story on Lieberman's desperate, clammy, last-ditch attempt to save his political hide, Times reporters Patrick Healy and Jennifer Medina called Lieberman's verbal retrenchment on Iraq -- a mea culpa without the culpa -- "a new set of talking points for Democratic leaders who are struggling for the right words to reconcile their support for the war initially and the fiery antiwar stance of many Democratic voters today."

Talking points? More like a recipe for disaster. Read John Zogby's terrific post on what Democratic voters are looking for. A hint: it ain't the muddled mush Lieberman was dishing out Sunday night.

After much hand-wringing and midnight oil burning (and, no doubt, poll reading), Lieberman's advisors finally convinced the Senator that in order to have even a shot at breaking his downward Joementum, he'd have to at least soften his bellicose stance on the war.

You could almost hear their plaintive pleas: "C'mon, Joe, Hillary just called it a failure -- can't you at least say something like, 'Iraq: it wasn't the best idea America's ever had'?"

But the best they could do was convince Lieberman to play the "let's agree to disagree" card. A shift from his previous criticize-the-president-and-imperil-the-nation rhetoric, to be sure... but a new set of Democratic talking points? Please... how low are we going to set the bar?

"I not only respect your right to disagree or question the president or anyone else, including me, I value your right," said Lieberman. Nice to know he now values the First Amendment.

He also said he understood that many Democrats "are angry about the war" and that since he doesn't believe "there is anything I can say to change your mind about whether we should have gone to war or when to bring the troops home...at this point I'm not going to insult you by trying."
In other words, he still thinks those opposing the war are dead wrong but has decided not to "insult" them by trying to convince them otherwise. So it's comity uber alles. How generous of him. But not the kind of leadership Democrats are looking for on the war.

Lieberman also said that he wants to bring the troops home "as fast as anyone" -- as long as "anyone" doesn't include all those folks who'd like to bring the troops home before they get any further caught up in a civil war conflagration.

Anxious to move Iraq to the backburner, Lieberman dug deep into his long history in the Senate to find a reason why Connecticut voters shouldn't send him packing tomorrow. The biggest selling point he came up with?

"I don't hate Republicans," he said, while arguing that he wasn't President Bush's "best friend and enabler."

Talking points for the ages.

I thought the Dems' "America, Together We Can Do Better" was the worst rallying cry money could buy... but Lieberman just topped it: "I don't hate Republicans."

Earlier in the day, Lieberman had made campaign stops at a pair of churches. At one, the preacher invoked the Biblical story of Joseph, who "refused to sell out to the haters."

Lieberman picked up the theme, saying: "Joseph had faith that God will take care of the haters, and I have a certain faith that this Tuesday God will take care of the voters."

Huh? I love the story of Joseph, but I have no idea what Lieberman was talking about.

Was he saying that, for him, "the haters" = "the voters"? That he believes God will "take care" of "the voters" by getting them to vote God's and Lieberman's way? That God will smite down Lamont voters on the way to the polls? That Lieberman is hated by his brothers? That when he loses his Senate seat he'll switch to dream analysis for Pharaoh? That he plans to run as an independent on the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Party ticket?

I'd love to know what point you biblical scholars out there think Lieberman was trying to make, because I really don't have a clue.