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Be happy in your work

Joe Lieberman tussles with Ned Lamont

John Nichols of The Nation:

What was the “soundbite line” from the press conference where Senator Joe Lieberman announced that he may cut and run to an “unaffiliated” ballot line if Connecticut Democrats don’t renominate him in August? That’s easy:

“I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party.”

That is an honorable-sounding line.

But to whom are the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee’s loyalties directed?

That, of course, is the senator’s problem.

Were Lieberman merely a predictable centrist Democrat, willing to mumble mild criticisms of the Bush administration’s foreign policies but unwilling to make a serious break with the administration, he would not be worrying about the increasingly-viable Democratic primary challenge he faces from anti-war progressive Ned Lamont.

But Lieberman is not a predictable centrist. He is an in-the-pocket Bush man — at least as far as the war in Iraq goes.

Lieberman called for war with Iraq before Bush did — in a 2001 letter to the president that was also signed by Arizona Senator John McCain — and he has been such an enthusiastic booster of the occupation that Bush actually kissed the Connecticut senator at the 2005 State of the Union.

Nothing, not realities on the ground in Iraq, nor realities on the ground in Connecticut, has caused Lieberman’s loyalties to waver.

Principled? Perhaps.

But it is possible to be principled and wrong. And, in the case of both Lieberman and Bush, it is certainly possible to mistake principle for a stubborn refusal to admit fundamental errors.

It would appear that Joe Lieberman has become the Democratic Party’s Colonel Nicholson:

“What about this chap, for instance?” he said, stopping to speak to one of the patients. “What’s wrong with you, my lad?”

He was walking between two rows of prisoners who lay on bamboo beds, either shivering with fever or in a state of coma, their cadaverous faces protruding from the threadbare blankets.

“Temperature of 104 last night, sir. Malaria.”

“Right, I see,” said the Colonel, moving on. “And this man?”

“Jungle sores. I had to dig into his leg yesterday – with an ordinary knife; I haven’t any other instruments. He’s got a hole in him as large as a golf ball, sir.”

“So that was it,” muttered Colonel Nicholson. “I thought I heard someone shrieking in the night.”

“That was it. Four of his pals had to hold him down. I hope I’ll be able to save his leg, but it’s touch and go,’ he added, lowering his voice. “Do you really want me to send him out to work, sir?”

“Don’t talk rot, Clipton. Of course I don’t. What you say goes. Let’s get this clear. I’m not trying to force sick and wounded men to work. But we must face this fact: we’ve got less than a month to finish the job we’re doing. It’ll require a superhuman effort, I know, but I can’t help that. Consequently, each tme you take one of these men off work, you make it harder for everyone else. You ought to bear that in mind every moment of the day, do you understand? Even if a man’s not at the top of his form he can still make himself useful and help on light duties – the trimmings and finishing touches, for instance; that general wash and brush-up that Hughes will soon be organizing, you know.”

“I suppose you’re going to have the thing painted, sir?”

“Don’t even think of such a thing, Clipton,” said the Colonel testily. “The most we could do would be to give it a coating of lime – and a fine target that would make for planes, wouldn’t it! You seem to forget that there’s a war on!”

“You’re quite right, sir, there’s a war on.”

The Bridge Over The River Kwai
Pierre Boulle

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