- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006

A Lieberman foe

The New York Times, adopting the same tone as left-wing bloggers, denounced Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, and endorsed his challenger, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont.

“If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today,” the Times said in an editorial yesterday. “But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.”

The newspaper said the primary “has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction.”

Meanwhile, the Hartford, Conn., Courant and the Connecticut Post yesterday backed Mr. Lieberman, the Associated Press reports.

The Courant said that it does not usually endorse candidates in primaries, but did so now because the race has drawn national attention and is a “defining moment” in the debate about the war on terrorism.

“Mr. Lieberman’s history of enthusiasm for military interventions overseas is an anomaly in a man famous for mediating among warring factions in Washington,” the Courant said. “But to dismiss this moderate — a vanishing breed in a Congress sundered by extremism on both sides — for dissenting on a single issue would be a terrible waste. And a mistake.”

The Connecticut Post called him “a proven leader.”

A party of one

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, “draws praise from Washington sages for taking ‘principled’ and ‘independent’ stands. Yet it’s precisely this contrarian streak that has made him so vulnerable today, and his plight reveals the increasing untenability of bucking the party line in an age of polarization,” David Greenberg writes in the Boston Globe.

“If Lieberman does bolt the party after [the primary on] Aug. 8, then, his departure won’t be a historical fluke. It will, rather, reflect the new normal state of the relationship between Democrats and a senator who, having hewed to political convictions at odds with mainstream liberalism, has rendered himself a party of one,” said Mr. Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University and author of “Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image.”

“Conventional wisdom divides the Democrats into two camps: liberals (who are supposedly backing Lamont) and centrists (sticking by Lieberman). But in truth, those who are often called liberals — people who share the politics of The Nation magazine or filmmaker Michael Moore — are really leftists. The so-called centrists, for their part, actually encompass several discrete groups: mainstream liberals, whose politics mirror those of your average Democratic senator; upscale ‘neoliberals,’ who champion economic growth and technological policy solutions; and the Southerners and Westerners linked to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who tend to list rightward on social and foreign policy.”

Over and over

“In posting its earnings report for the second quarter Thursday, ExxonMobil announced profits of more than $10 billion. That figure is the second-highest ever recorded by a publicly traded company, just behind the $10.7 billion Exxon pulled in during the final quarter of 2005. It was the capstone in a week where all the oil majors announced yet another round of gargantuan profits,” Max Schulz writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Big Oil’s critics were ready, none more so than Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.). The 30-year House veteran was first out of the gate, quoted in the initial wire service stories with a stinging denunciation of both the Dallas-based company and the Bush administration: ‘While American families get tipped upside down and have their savings shaken out of their pockets at the gas pump, the Bush-Cheney team devises even more ways to line Big Oil’s pockets.’

“Pithy, hard-hitting, amusing visual. As Capitol Hill sound bites go, it’s top-shelf material. But … but … haven’t we heard that one before?

“As a matter of fact we have. Many times. Over and over. Rep. Markey is one of Congress’s most accomplished media hounds. The upside-down consumer shakedown is easily his most reliable political trope, a failsafe formulation to pull out any time he feels compelled to denounce some greedy corporate or Republican interest.”

Romney’s ‘risk’

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says he took a huge political risk by taking control of the state’s troubled Big Dig project but that he had to take action.

“I’ll get the blame for anything that goes wrong,” he told a crowd of about 100 supporters gathered for an indoor picnic in Ames, Iowa. “But I’m sure tired of people who are nothing but talk. I’m willing to take action.”

Saturday was the first out-of-state trip for Mr. Romney — who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 — since he took control of the Big Dig.

Originally a $2.6 billion highway project that created a series of traffic tunnels through the heart of Boston, the cost of the Big Dig has swelled to more than $14 billion. The project has been dogged by problems, including leaks, falling debris, delays and cost overruns.

Mr. Romney’s trip to Iowa Saturday had been planned for weeks — long before the Big Dig crisis surfaced — and he said he felt comfortable the Big Dig was at a point where he could leave the state.

“There will always be critics,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This project is going to take months to correct, and I will be available whenever I need to be there. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to say home for several months. I’m not an engineer. I’m not a contractor.”

Allen’s lead

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, has a 16-point lead over Democratic challenger James H. Webb Jr. in the latest independent statewide poll, published yesterday, but a fifth of the electorate is still undecided.

Forty-eight percent backed Mr. Allen and 32 percent supported Mr. Webb in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey of registered voters likely to vote in the Nov. 7 election.

However, 20 percent of the 625 respondents surveyed statewide by telephone Tuesday through Thursday said they had not decided between Mr. Allen, a former governor seeking a second Senate term, and Mr. Webb, a former Republican who was President Reagan‘s Navy secretary.

The poll’s margin of error was four percentage points.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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