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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Democrats show no love for Lieberman

Oh, it's tough to be Joe Lieberman these days. He definately not popular among liberals and his backstabbing op-ed piece has made him the darling among conservatives while angering most Democrats in Connecticut and across the nation.

While they might not come out and public criticize Lieberman publically, and can read between the lines and see that when it comes to the Democratic party, Lieberman is out in the cold.

From the Hartford Courant
Joe Lieberman stood virtually alone among Democrats Wednesday, his unyielding support for the administration's conduct of the Iraq war drawing warm praise from President Bush but no support from his own party.

In Bush's address on the progress of the war, the president described those who have called for withdrawal timetables - including 38 of the Senate's 44 Democrats - as "sincerely wrong."

Then he cited Lieberman.

"As Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would `discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists. It will confuse the Iraqi people.'

"Sen. Lieberman is right," the president said at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Not according to Democrats, who lined up at the Capitol and around the country to sharply criticize Bush's approach - and, in some cases, Lieberman's avid support.

"The war in Iraq has all the characteristics of Joe-momentum," said Tom Matzzie, Washington director of MoveOn.org, a liberal, Democratic-leaning activist group, recalling a slogan the senator used unsuccessfully during his 2004 presidential campaign.

"Just like he didn't realize his presidential ambitions were in trouble," Matzzie said, "he doesn't understand the war in Iraq isn't going anywhere."

Democratic Chairman Howard Dean, a 2004 Lieberman rival for the nomination, refused to discuss the senator, but he made it clear he found Bush's remarks lacking.

"The president failed to give an honest assessment of what's really happening on the ground in Iraq," Dean said. "Instead he released 35 pages of rhetoric and gave a speech full of slogans, but no clear plan."

In Connecticut, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd's comments were similar to those of Dean.

"I'm glad that the president has finally admitted to some of the problems over there," the Connecticut Democrat said. "But he continues, regretfully, to dodge, weave and evade all of the most important questions."


Lieberman's isolation within his own party became evident quickly Wednesday. Shortly after the president's address, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told reporters the speech was "more generalities than specifics." Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., charged that "the president's not dealing with a certain kind of reality that's important to the lives of our troops."

In the House, Minority Leader Nancy D. Pelosi, D-Calif., called the speech "a commitment to the status quo - a status quo that is not working," and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., a war backer in 2002, called the speech too vague.

No elected official would criticize Lieberman; he is still a respected figure within his party, someone who is a reliable vote on most issues of importance to Democrats. But Matzzie, whose organization claims more than 50,000 Connecticut members, said Wednesday that if his members ask, his group would back a Democratic challenger to Lieberman.

Matzzie was in New Haven last month, and found "the No. 1 question people asked me was, `What are we going to do about Joe Lieberman?'"

Top Democratic officials in the state have not criticized the senator publicly, though many concede privately that they are concerned about how the senator's views will muddle the party's message.

Lieberman moderate stance keeps him popular with Republicans and Democrats alike in Connecticut but the war in Iraq is a very sensitive issue and Lieberman should be wise to watch his step if another Democrat pops up and challenges him for the senate seat because his Republican friends won't be able to vote for him in a primary you can bet that every liberal group will be gunning to take him down (you can see the MoveOn.org ads hitting the airwaves now).