Sunday, December 11, 2005
Democrats Ready to Lynch Lieberman. In a show of the true venom in the Democrat party leaders and funders are getting ready to railroad Lieberman out of his office. Their message is clear either shut up or they're going to shut him up.
By RAYMOND HERNANDEZand WILLIAM YARDLEY
WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 - Five years after running as the vice-presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket and a year after his own presidential bid, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut has become an increasingly unwelcome figure within his party, with some Democrats seeing him more as a wayward son than a favorite son.
In the last few days, the senator has riled Democratic activists and politicians here and in his home state with his vigorous defense of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war at a time some Democrats are pressuring the administration to begin a withdrawal.
Mr. Lieberman particularly infuriated his colleagues when he pointed out at a conference here that President Bush would be commander in chief for three more years and said that "it's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that."
"We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril," Mr. Lieberman said.
Much of the open criticism has been from liberal groups and House members. But his comments have also rankled Democrats in the Senate.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, phoned Mr. Lieberman this week to express concerns with his views, Mr. Reid's aide said.
"Senator Reid has a lot of respect for Senator Lieberman," said Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman. "But he feels that Senator Lieberman's position on Iraq is at odds with many Americans."
An aide to another leading Democratic senator who insisted on anonymity said the feelings toward Mr. Lieberman could be summed up as, "The American people want to hold George Bush accountable for the failed policy in Iraq, and Senator Lieberman doesn't."
Mr. Lieberman, who remains immensely popular in his home state, is aware of the hornet's nest he has stirred.
"Some Democrats said I was being a traitor," he said in an interview on Friday, adding that he was not surprised by the reaction, "given the depth of feeling about the war."
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, said the breach was deep.
"I completely disagree with Mr. Lieberman," Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference. "I believe that we have a responsibility to speak out if we think that the course of action that our country is on is not making the American people safer."
James H. Dean, brother of Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, lives in Connecticut and heads Democracy for America, a group that is gathering signatures on the Internet for a letter that criticizes the senator.