Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Joe Lieberman As Himself

When Joseph Lieberman, faced with near-certain defeat, announced last week he would not be running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2012, several Democrats were effusive in their praise of the Connecticut senator. Very generous they, applauding the guy who lost the Democratic primary in 2006 and went on, with support from virtually the entire state GOP establishment, to defeat the Democratic nominee.

The New York Times' David Brooks reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote him an e-mail: "He was an integral part of the Democratic caucus and his dedication to public service, ability to work across the aisle and broad range of experience will be missed." Brooks received also an e-mail from Vice President Biden, who wrote "The Senate will not be the same without Joe’s leadership and powerful intellect. But it is his civility that will be missed the most." And Senator John Kerry said "He’s defined himself by his conscience and beliefs.”

There was no indication whether the "civility" Biden cited included Lieberman's lecture of Iraq war critics in December, 2005. Nearly accusing members of his own party of treason, he declared "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."

Whatever "conscience" John Kerry was referring to on Lieberman's part seems to have evaporated by the time the Senator had this transaction (video below; transcript from The Huffington Post) with Arianna Huffington on Thursday's Morning Joe:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: It was stunning to hear you say that there was evidence that Saddam Hussein was working on weapons of mass destruction, given that even President Bush himself has now accepted that there had been no evidence. So on what basis are you saying that?

JOE LIEBERMAN: I'm basing it on the so-called Duelfer Report. Charles D-U-E-L-F-E-R conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our government. And it was, nobody thought it was partisan. I want to be very clear: he didn't find big caches of weapons of mass destruction. But he found, and proved I think, that Saddam had every intention, and particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological weapons, and had a structure in place including nuclear scientists that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the sanctions, which he was inclined to do. So I think that the evidence is clear that if we did not do what we did that Saddam Hussein would today have at least chemical and biological weapons and have a nuclear program probably like Iran's beginning to move toward capabilities, and that the entire world would be a much less...

HUFFINGTON: Well, based on this completely unfounded assumption, I sincerely hope for the sake of the country that you do not become Secretary of Defense.

LIEBERMAN: Now Arianna, these are not unfounded. Go read the Duelfer Report.

HUFFINGTON: There is nothing in the report that proves anything that you have said.

Lieberman would follow with "I don't think you've read it, sweetheart." Don't seat the condescension- no one has ever accused Joe Lieberman of being insufficiently sanctimonious. Nevertheless, there remains the substance of the Senator's claim that Hussein

was developing chemical and biological weapons, and had a structure in place including nuclear scientists that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the sanctions, which he was inclined to do. So I think that the evidence is clear that if we did not do what we did that Saddam Hussein would today have at least chemical and biological weapons and have a nuclear program probably like Iran's beginning to move toward capabilities....

Let's go to the Washington Post article of 10/7/04, in which Dana Priest and Walter Pincus explain

The 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. inspections destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it, according to an extensive report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that contradicts nearly every prewar assertion made by top administration officials about Iraq.

Charles A. Duelfer, whom the Bush administration chose to complete the U.S. investigation of Iraq's weapons programs, said Hussein's ability to produce nuclear weapons had "progressively decayed" since 1991. Inspectors, he said, found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the program."

The findings were similar on biological and chemical weapons. While Hussein had long dreamed of developing an arsenal of biological agents, his stockpiles had been destroyed and research stopped years before the United States led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Duelfer said Hussein hoped someday to resume a chemical weapons effort after U.N. sanctions ended, but had no stocks and had not researched making the weapons for a dozen years....

Hussein, the report concluded, "aspired to develop a nuclear capability" and intended to work on rebuilding chemical and biological weapons after persuading the United Nations to lift sanctions. But the report also notes: "The former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam" tasked to take this up once sanctions ended.

Having announced his eventual departure from the Senate, Lieberman could have suggested he had reconsidered his support for the U.S. adventure in Iraq. Or merely that events since The Awakening had resulted in an Iraq creeping toward democracy and political stability. He could have demonstrated a little of that vaunted "conscience," honesty, or humility. But that would have been out of character and Joe Lieberman, to whom his former party has pandered for over four years, had no reason to display class which consistently has eluded him.










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