The Iraq War might already be over if not for Joe Lieberman. Now, as Connecticut's voters prepare to go to the polls, they should remember how this self-described "moderate" helped kill concerted efforts by true moderates of both parties to limit the President's war-making power.
Lieberman played a key part in crushing the bipartisan Biden-Lugar amendment to the Iraq War Resolution. That amendment would have limited the President's war-making role to eliminating Hussein's WMD capabilities - a limitation which would have required the President to seek further authorization once it was known that Saddam had no WMD's.
The Senate might well have refused that authorization. At a minimum, few Democrats would have supported a second authorization. That would have given them a much clearer story for the 2004 election, and probably ensured a Kerry victory.
It would also have required the President to return to Congress with further documentation that he had pursued action in the UN Security Council, and to certify that he had clear proof of an immediate and grave threat from Iraqi WMDs.
The Biden-Lugar amendment was supported by true moderates of both parties, including key Republicans like Dick Lugar and Arlen Specter. Supporters from both sides of the aisle were convinced it could win 60 to 70 votes - that is, until Joe and his friends stepped in.
One day Lieberman and Dick Gephardt (representing sell-outs from the Senate and Congress, respectively) appeared with Bush in the Rose Garden to announce that they support the War Resolution as is - without Biden-Lugar. Support for the Amendment collapsed overnight.
The result? Senators were forced to choose between accepting the Resolution as it stood, or voting against it. The decision of many Democrats to support the resolution split the party and weakened it.
Rewriting history is a difficult exercise. We don't know exactly how things would have gone if Lieberman and his friends hadn't sabotaged the efforts of the real moderates. But it seems safe to assume that the Democrats would not have been as bitterly divided. More importantly, Bush would have been forced to seek an additional Congressional resolution before the 2004 election. That could have changed the course of the war, the outcome of the election - or both.
Why is it that all those Washington pundits are still saying Joe's a "moderate" and a "bipartisan" guy, when he killed the bravest attempt at nonpartisanship we've seen in Washington in a decade?
Americans are still dying in Iraq. Terrorism is up as a result of this misbegotten war. And we can thank Joe Lieberman for his key role in letting it happen. Let's hope the people of Connecticut remember the carnage that's resulted from Lieberman's betrayal of the real moderates, and vote accordingly.
Sorry, Joe - but we never promised you a rose garden.
Follow Richard (RJ) Eskow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rjeskow