Lieberman Calls on Rumsfeld to Resign

Democrat/Connecticut for Lieberman/Republican backed Joe Lieberman called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation on yesterday’s “Face the Nation.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman, attacked by fellow Democrats as being too close to the White House on the Iraq War, on Sunday called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign but said the United States cannot “walk away” from the Iraqis.

Lieberman, the one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate, is running as an independent in his bid for a fourth term since losing the Democratic nomination to newcomer Ned Lamont, who harnessed voters’ anger against the war in Iraq.

Lieberman, an early supporter of the Iraq war, said he had called for Rumsfeld to step down in 2003. “With all respect to Don Rumsfeld, who has done a grueling job for six years, we would benefit from new leadership to work with our military in Iraq,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Lieberman said the Bush administration should have sent more troops into Iraq “to secure the country.” “We had a naive vision that the Iraqis were going to embrace us and then go on and live happily ever after,” he said. Lieberman said the administration must “put severe pressure on the Iraqis to contain sectarian violence.” “There is still hope in Iraq and as long as there is we cannot just pick up and walk away and leave them to the sure disaster that would follow and would compromise our security in the war on terrorism,” he said.

This strikes me as an odd strategy on Lieberman’s part. Whether this is his genuine view of the situation or merely a cynical ploy to triangulate, its effect will be to alienate Republicans while likely doing little to shore him up among Democrats predisposed to vote for party nominee Lamont.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian notes that Lieberman has been all over the map on this one.

Way back in October of 2003, Lieberman said if he were the guy in the Oval Office he’d can Rummy (different than calling on Bush to do so, of course, which is more forceful, and not in keeping with the deferential war time mores we’re admonished to follow). Then, after the massive debacle of Abu Ghraib, some seven months after this interview, Lieberman sees it fit to pen an op-ed in the WSJ urging Rummy not be sacked–lest we “delight foreign and domestic opponents”. And now fast-forward to these heady times rife with challenges from the likes of Ned Lamont, and it’s OK again, I guess, to risk delighting our foreign foes with calls for Rummy to go. Rather on the lame side, I’m afraid.

Sadly, yes. Oddly remniscient of Genghis Khan John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it.” This sort of thing has always irritated me about Lieberman and most other politicians who scrupulously cultivate an image of moderation.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ATS says:

    Joe takes us for idiots. He comes late to the battlefield and shoots the wounded.

  2. Ralph says:

    “[O]dd strategy on Lieberman’s part . . . his geniune [sic] view of the situation or merely a cynical ploy[?]

    Chastising Clinton over Monica, writing that WSJ op-ed in support of the war effort (after visiting Iraq four times) — “odd” strategies there, too. I’m inclined to believe “genuine view.” It’s more in keeping with his habit since I first noticed him as Connecticut Attorney General years ago. Unlike most other politicians, “disingenuous” is a term rarely applicable to Joe Lieberman. Because I value that more than disagreements I may have with some of his positions, I support his re-election.

  3. legion says:

    It’s interesting that Holy Joe’s allowed to criticize the Commander-in-Chief’s pursuit of the War on Terrah, but anybody else who does is “delighting” the terrorists.

  4. Triumph says:

    This strikes me as an odd strategy on Lieberman’s part. Whether this is his genuine view of the situation or merely a cynical ploy to triangulate, its effect will be to alienate Republicans while likely doing little to shore him up among Democrats predisposed to vote for party nominee Lamont.

    It strikes me as perfectly sensible–and in keeping with the logic that Bush and Cheney are using to actively support his candidacy.

    Lieberman beats Lamont in November. Dems either win back the Senate or rely upon Lieberman’s caucusing with them to sustain their majority.

    In December, Rummy quits to spend more time with his family.

    In January, Liberman is appointed Sec of Defense.

    Immediately, Jodi Rell–Republican governor of CT–appoints a moderate Republican to the Senate.

    Republicans control Senate, Rummy is forced out for his incompetence, Lieberman is inserted and DODef is still controlled by Cheney, Bush earns points for bipartisanship, he pushes through his radical agenda to gut social security and increase government deficits.

  5. I think this is standard politics. Where are those to the “right” of this issue going to go. They could go to Schlesinger, but that just increases the likelihood of Lamont winning. Those between Lamont and Lieberman might be persuaded by his position (though I suspect they could as easily be turned off by flip flopping positions). Those to the left of Lamont just aren’t going to be persuaded no matter what Joe does.

    Three party races are interesting dynamics, especially for the guy in the middle. Any direction he moves will likely cost him votes, it just has to be weighed against how many votes gained vs lost. Since Lamont is clearly the greater threat, he is trying to expand his voter base from those to his left than those on the right.

  6. Vigilante says:

    Bashing Rummy is the last refuge of the cowardly complacent, when the real deal is impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

  7. Vigilante,

    So you think Hastert would be a better option for president than Bush or Cheney? Interesting.