WYOMING - Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman stunned Washington today by announcing that if he loses the general election in November, he will refuse to vacate his seat in the Senate.
"I owe it to the nation," the Senator told reporters while quail hunting with Dick Cheney and a heavily bandaged Karl Rove. "If a gaggle of voters in a small, mostly wooded state think they can polarize our entire political system, they don't know this Joe."
Asked how he could ignore the clear will of Nutmeg State voters if they reject him in November, Lieberman replied, "Voters aren't everybody. In general elections, only the partisan, polarizing types generally go to the polls. I want to provide a voice for the moderate majority who never vote."
The senator also pointed out that neither white-tailed deer nor Canadian geese are eligible to vote in Connecticut, though they constitute a clear majority of the population and, he contends, strongly support his position on Iraq.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid reacted with characteristic caution to Lieberman's latest bombshell.
"If Ned Lamont wins in November, he should get Lieberman's desk and his locker, absolutely" Reid said. "But I can't force Lieberman to clean out his desk. That has to be his choice."
Observers openly doubted that Republican leaders would enforce the Senate rules at Lieberman's expense.
"The President loves Lieby Baby," said one White House official on condition of anonymity. "There's no way he's going let a bunch of latte-sipping Connecti-commies force him out."
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said there was no precedent for an incumbent senator simply refusing to go when defeated. "I've never heard of it," she commented from her bunker in an undisclosed location, "but come to think of it, why not? Couldn't be worse than the Senate we historically get."
Faced with a potential standoff, insiders speculated that the issue might be ultimately decided by simple brute force in the Senate cloakroom. Lamont, 52, appears to be considerably less jowly than Lieberman, who is a decade older, rarely visits the Senate gym and has a fondness for Danish.
"In a one-on-one, Ned Lamont can take Lieberman down, no question," said one staffer. "But I'm not so sure about Hadassah."