Joe Lieberman for secretary of defense?

The rumor -- and John Kerry's response.

By Tim Grieve
Published December 5, 2005 3:09PM (EST)

Joe Lieberman spoke so glowingly about the war in Iraq the other day that we thought for a moment that he must be on the White House payroll. He isn't, of course, but could he be? On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Bob Schieffer said that he's heard from four different sources that George W. Bush is thinking about nominating Lieberman to serve as secretary of defense if Donald Rumsfeld resigns next year.

That's a scary thought for anyone hoping for a change of direction on Iraq. Scarier still is the way John Kerry, who wants to style himself as the Democrats' leading critic on Iraq, responded when Schieffer put the rumor to him. "Of course I'd support Joe Lieberman," Kerry said. "He's a friend and he's a very capable guy. But that's all inside Washington stuff, Bob. You know, what people really care about is how we're going to protect our country and get your troops home in a way that is successful."

How "supporting Joe Lieberman" addresses any of that, we're not exactly sure. It was Lieberman, after all, who talked so much last week about the "real progress" being made in Iraq and said he was "disappointed by Democrats" -- presumably, Kerry among them -- "who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago ... than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Donald Rumsfeld Iraq War Joe Lieberman War Room