Lieberman, Bush: Can you tell them apart?

Each tries for some distance from the other, but their words bring them back together.

Published July 7, 2006 1:08PM (EDT)

During his debate with Democratic challenger Ned Lamont last night, Joe Lieberman tried desperately to distance himself from a president whose war he has spent so much time supporting. Meanwhile, George W. Bush was doing his best to keep his distance from Lieberman in an interview with Larry King -- not because he doesn't 'ppreciate his support, but because he said he's wary of giving Lieberman a "political kiss" -- they've already shared the real kind -- which "may be his death."

So did all the distancing work?

You be the judge.

Yes, Lieberman said last night that he would have handled Iraq differently than Bush did after the war began, and he also pointed to other issues on which he's disagreed with the president in the past. But again and again last night -- as it has been again and again over the last six years -- it sure was hard to tell one man from the other.

Think you can do it?

Listed below are some of the things Lieberman said during last night's debate, mixed in with some of the things Bush said during last night's Larry King interview. See if you can tell who's who.

1. "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision and I'm absolutely convinced it was."

2. "And I believe it was the right thing for us to overthrow Saddam Hussein."

3. "Things don't happen quickly when it comes to helping a nation go from a tyranny to a democracy. But the Iraqi people were given a chance to vote and they did overwhelmingly. And now we're working with a new unity government, to help succeed.

4. "The situation in Iraq is a lot better, different than it was a year ago. The Iraqis held three elections. They formed a unity government. They are on the way to building a free and independent Iraq. Their military -- two-thirds of their military is now ready, on their own, to lead the fight with some logistical backing from the U.S. or stand up on their own totally. That's progress."

5. "I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular."

6. "And I have asked [the people] to respect me for having the guts to take an unpopular political position."

7. "We will succeed in Iraq, unless we decide to quit."

8. "... we have a choice. And that choice is between helping the Iraqis achieve a free and independent Iraq or abandoning them and letting the terrorists take over."

So which one is George Bush, and which one is the one who proclaims himself "not George Bush"? The Republican president is responsible for statements 1, 3, 5 and 7. The Democratic senator -- for now -- can take credit for 2, 4, 6 and 8.

By Tim Grieve

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

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2006 Elections Iraq War Joe Lieberman War Room