- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2002

Sen. Joe Lieberman reinforced his reputation as "the conscience of the Senate" when he became the first Democrat to rebuke Bill Clinton after the president's belated admissions in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. No doubt his criticism contributed to his selection as the running mate of Al Gore, who sought to distance himself from the immoral character of his boss. If Mr. Lieberman's performance yesterday on the "Imus" show was any indication, there are several Democrats from whom he wants to distance himself today. They include Mr. Gore, New Jersey Sen. Bob Torricelli and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Grilled about Mr. Gore's inaccurate and politicized speech criticizing the Iraqi policies of both Bush administrations, Mr. Lieberman said he "respectfully disagree" with his former running mate.
Why "respectfully"? Consider the revisionism in Mr. Gore's speech, which he delivered Monday in San Francisco. "Back in 1991, I was one of a handful of Democrats in the United States Senate to vote in favor of the resolution endorsing the Persian Gulf War," Mr. Gore said. "And I felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield."
"Betrayed"? As Fox News Channel reported shortly after Mr. Gore spoke, there was no sense of betrayal in the remarks Mr. Gore delivered in the Senate on April 18, 1991, more than six weeks after the cease-fire. "I want to state this clearly," Mr. Gore said back then. "President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein's survival to this point. There was, throughout the war, a clear consensus the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives." Continuing, Mr. Gore declared, "On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that, when this was accomplished, combat would stop."
If anything has been "betrayed," it is Mr. Gore's integrity. Interestingly, after Mr. Imus told Mr. Lieberman that "no one in the Democratic Party wants Al Gore to run again," Mr. Lieberman deadpanned, "I do have to say there are some grumblings."
Regarding Mr. Torricelli, Mr. Lieberman appeared ill at ease associating himself with the senator, who was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee. Was "the conscience of the Senate" supporting Mr. Torricelli? "Yes," Mr. Lieberman replied, adding, "Look, he did some things wrong and he apologized." Having quickly dispensed with his talking points, Mr. Lieberman then told Mr. Imus the truth. "If I may be extremely explicit, there are many very close Senate races around the country that will determine which party has the majority," Mr. Lieberman said, adding how important being in the majority is to "people like me and others who enjoy being [committee] chairmen."
As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Mr. Lieberman oversees the Senate's investigation of Enron Corp. The last time Mr. Lieberman talked to Mr. Imus, he was grilled about whether he intended to subpoena Mr. Rubin, who made some highly questionable telephone calls in a desperate effort to delay Enron's bankruptcy. Mr. Lieberman was no more forthcoming this time, though Mr. Imus deserves credit for continuing to hold his feet to the fire. Eventually, the "conscience of the Senate" will once again be compelled to prove it.

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