Friday, December 15, 2006

Columnist suggests Bush could use Lieberman to change Senate's balance

While much of Washington kept rapt attention on the health of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, an article in Salon today speculated that President George W. Bush could tip the Senate to a Republican majority via other means - namely, appointing Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be America's next Ambassador to the UN.

Salon political columnist Joe Conason notes that if Lieberman were to leave the Senate, Connecticut's Republican Governor would be able to appoint a Republican to fill his seat. Knowing this, Conason reasons, the White House could use the enticement of the UN posting as a means to encourage Lieberman to exit the US Senate.

Conason acknowledges that Lieberman, having fought so hard to keep his seat, is unlikely to give it up. But he points out that Lieberman was a candidate for the job of UN Ambassador at an earlier time. And, he also suggests that the move could be used to put Lieberman on course to be the Vice Presidential candidate on a ticket with John McCain in 2008.

Conason's column can be accessed by Salon subscribers and anyone viewing one of Salon's advertisements at this link. A short excerpt is provided below.

To Bush, however, Lieberman might represent a refreshing change -- if only because the long nomination struggle over Bolton could end at last with a resounding victory instead of an infuriating defeat. Selecting a three-term senator who has made alliances on both sides of the aisle would ensure a smooth confirmation process. Many Democrats have mixed feelings about their old colleague these days, and he feels the same way about many of them. But institutional comity would require them to vote for him. (And how amusing for the Republicans to watch their adversaries vote themselves back into the minority with gritted teeth.)

According to the New York Daily News, Lieberman actually was the president's first choice for the U.N. post. Thomas DeFrank, the paper's Washington bureau chief, reported last December that Bush had offered the job to the Connecticut senator, who thought about it for a week before saying no. If that is true, then he may be at the top of the list of nominees, which is said to include U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky and Jim Leach, R-Iowa, who lost his congressional seat last month.


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