Senatology

Joe Lieberman had a very statesmanlike op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today.

We are at a critical moment in Iraq–at the beginning of a key battle, in the midst of a war that is irretrievably bound up in an even bigger, global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism. However tired, however frustrated, however angry we may feel, we must remember that our forces in Iraq carry America’s cause–the cause of freedom–which we abandon at our peril.

Pejman Yousefzadeh and Tigerhawk take note, but Roger L. Simon takes the prize for best headline: “Lonely are the Liebermen.”

However, something very interesting caught my eye. Senator Lieberman had a similar opinion piece in the Washington Post back on December 29.

In Iraq today we have a responsibility to do what is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term — not what appears easier in the short term.

The Senator’s byline for the December 29 piece:

The writer is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut. [emphasis added]

His byline for the February 26 piece:

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent senator from Connecticut.

Can this omission possibly be anything but deliberate?

The appellation “Independent Democrat” is Mr. Lieberman’s shorthand for retaining his seniority by caucusing with his old party but breaking its ranks on the Iraq war. Here’s the Senator in a September 27 conversation with Roger L. Simon:

I remain a Democratic but I’m running as an Independent Democrat, which in some ways makes official what I’ve been for a long time. I’ve been an independent Democratic. And I’m reaching out in Connecticut across party lines…

And in an AP story from November 13:

[Senator Lieberman] said that because voters returned him to Capitol Hill as an independent, “I am now an Independent Democrat — capital I, capital D. Matter of fact, the secretary of the Senate called my office and asked, ‘How do you want to be identified,’ and that’s it. Independent Democrat,” the senator said.

After this term, “Independent Democrat,” has been insisted upon and used as a touchstone in any number of public conversations, its casual omission on a leading editorial page can only be a warning shot. Look for Congress to continue its complaints but to do nothing substantive to impede the war effort for the next four to six months. Joe Lieberman will cow his own party.

UPDATE 2/27: Captain Ed: “Democrats have delayed further consideration to restrict or cripple the Iraq war deployments, apparently stunned by the lack of cohesion among their own caucuses…”

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