On Face the Nation, Schieffer, VandeHei passed up ample opportunities to ask Lieberman about claim that Lamont's Iraq strategy will "strengthen" terrorists

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer let Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) claim that he does "not [] play partisan politics" and that his opponent, businessman Ned Lamont, is engaged in a "smear partisan political game." Schieffer made no mention of Lieberman's own claim -- in the wake of arrests made over an alleged terror plot in London -- that Lamont's proposed Iraq exit-strategy "would strengthen [terrorists]" and allow them to "strike again."

On the August 20 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer allowed independent candidate and incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) to claim that he does "not [] play partisan politics" and that his opponent, businessman Ned Lamont, is engaged in a "smear partisan political game," without noting Lieberman's own claim in the wake of arrests made over an alleged terror plot in London that Lamont's proposed Iraq exit strategy "would strengthen [terrorists]" and allow them to "strike again." Schieffer did not mention Lieberman's accusation, though he did note that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) recently accused Lieberman of "echoing the Republicans' intolerable rhetoric" -- a statement Kerry issued on August 17 in response to Lieberman's claim that Lamont's Iraq policy would "strengthen" the terrorists.

Washington Post staff writer Jim VandeHei joined Schieffer in interviewing Lieberman but also did not mention Lieberman's comments, despite noting that it "really ticks [Democratic senators] off" when Lieberman says "people who want timetables [for withdrawal from Iraq] are only making America less secure."

On August 10, CNN reported Lieberman's comments about Lamont, which Lieberman made as he launched his independent candidacy for Senate:

LIEBERMAN: If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them, and they will strike again.

But Schieffer failed to mention Lieberman's comments, despite asking Lieberman if he is "comfortable" with the fact that he "basically g[ot] the endorsement of ...Vice President [Dick] Cheney." Like Lieberman's attack on Lamont, Cheney's "endorsement" included a suggestion that Lamont's victory in the Democratic primary could encourage "Al Qaeda types":

CHENEY: [A]s I look at what happened yesterday, it strikes me that it's a perhaps unfortunate and significant development from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, that what it says about the direction the party appears to be heading in when they, in effect, purge a man like Joe Lieberman, who was just six years ago their nominee for vice president, is of concern, especially over the issue of Joe's support with respect to national efforts in the global war on terror.

The thing that's partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the Al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.

Schieffer even neglected to ask Lieberman about his attack on Lamont while noting Kerry's statement, in an email to supporters, that Lieberman has been "echoing the Republicans' intolerable rhetoric," such as "Dick Cheney claiming that Democratic candidates who dare to challenge the Bush White House on Iraq are 'emboldening terrorists' ":

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove should know better, but it's no surprise they don't. For almost five years now, every time they've got their backs to the wall politically, they play "the fear card." The latest example: Dick Cheney claiming that Democratic candidates who dare to challenge the Bush White House on Iraq are "emboldening terrorists."

What's worse, and startling, is that in Connecticut Joe Lieberman is now echoing their intolerable rhetoric attacking the Democratic Senate nominee.

As the Chicago Tribune noted in an August 17 post to its political weblog, The Swamp, Kerry's email that day to Democratic supporters "specifically blast[ed] Lieberman for saying that Lamont's call to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq would encourage terrorists, a charge President Bush and other senior Republicans have leveled at Democrats." On Face the Nation, Lieberman claimed that Kerry's comments were "just plain politics by somebody who has ambitions of his own," adding, "I came to Washington to solve problems, not to play partisan politics."

From the August 20 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: Were you satisfied -- are you comfortable when you basically get the endorsement of the vice president? Vice President Cheney?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it wasn't an endorsement. I haven't sought his endorsement, and I don't expect it. He commented on his interpretation of what happened in the primary in Connecticut. I got to tell you, Bob, that a lot of national political ears on both parties have been spinning the results of the primary of a week and a half ago. That's their business, it's not mine. I'm not going to let myself and my campaign become anybody's national political football. This is a question before the voters of Connecticut, and I've decided to continue this campaign because I feel so deeply that I can do a better job for my state and country than either of my opponents and I want all the voters to decide that, not just the 15 percent who participated in the Democratic primary. And I feel that way because of my experience --

SCHIEFFER: Well --

LIEBERMAN: --my seniority and most of all that I can work across partisan lines to get things done. I am as fed up as I think most of the American people are with the partisanship and polarization in Washington. That means we don't solve the people's problems. If you want another partisan polarizer, vote for Ned Lamont.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean the fact is --

LIEBERMAN: If you want somebody that can get something done, vote for me.

SCHIEFFER: -- the polls now show that you not only are leading in the race up there now, but that you have a sizable lead. But are you a de facto Republican as Ned Lamont said that you were?

LIEBERMAN: Well, obviously not. Again, my opponent's new at politics, but he's getting pretty good at the old-style Washington smear partisan political game. I'm a Democrat.

SCHIEFFER: Well, John Kerry also seems to suggest that. What did he say?

LIEBERMAN: With all -- with...

SCHIEFFER: He said, "What's worse than startling is that Connecticut's Joe Lieberman is now echoing the Republicans' intolerable rhetoric, attacking the Democrats."

LIEBERMAN: With all -- with all respect to John Kerry, an old friend, that's just plain politics by somebody who has ambitions of his own. I am a Democrat. Look at my voting record. I voted 90 percent of the time with the majority of Democrats in the United States Senate. But when I disagree, I'm going to have the courage of my convictions to say so. And most important of all, I came to Washington to solve problems, not to play partisan politics. We got a lot of problems. Health care system broken, people paying too much money for gasoline and home heating oil, public schools not what they ought to be, global warming threatening, fiscal deficits. The only way we're going to solve those problems is by working across party lines, and that's what I want to do.

VANDEHEI: What about the -- what about this argument that -- from Democrats, when I talk to senators what really ticks them off is that they feel like you are saying things that help Republicans. When you say that a lot of Democrats are outside the mainstream of America, or when you say the people who want timetables are only making America less secure. They're saying, well now Republicans just point to you and say, "Look, you have a Democrat who is saying precisely what we're saying." Are you at all worried that you're going to undermine your party's chances of winning back the House and Senate because of your rhetoric to beat Lamont?

LIEBERMAN: No, I'm not. I'm worried that my party may become what we accuse the Republicans of, a kind of litmus test party. "If you don't agree with us 100 percent of the time, you don't agree with us." I'm devoted to the Democratic Party.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CBS
Person
Jim VandeHei
Show/Publication
Face the Nation
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, 2006 Elections
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