CRYING FOR JOE. It's important to take a little history into a weekend in which I can guaran-damn-tee you the plight of poor Weepin' Joe Lieberman is going to render the Sabbath panel shows into the tear-jerking narrative spawn of Mildred Pierce and Judas Iscariot. Oh, the sights we're going to see. Oh, the things we're going to hear. (There also likely will be some incredibly dumb things about Mel Gibson, and about Oliver Stone's new movie, which my moles tell me is brilliant, but which is going to get waved around like a cudgel by people who, not very long ago, thought Stone was Leni Riefenstahl on psilocybin. Ignore them and see it anyway.) Anyway, one of the things you will hear, probably from Republicans, unless somebody's managed to use the jaws of life to get Al From away from a hospitality buffet table, is that poor Weepin' Joe is only six years removed from being the Democratic nominee for vice president, and what possibly (sniff, sniff) can have happened to that party full of hippie ingrates in the meantime. In this case, it's important to remember that, in 1999, in an Iowa presidential straw-poll that was enough of a votes-for-sale Kabuki that it would have embarrassed Huey Long, the eighth-place spot was secured by one J. Danforth Quayle who, the older folks will recall, actually was vice president of the United States. And there he was, seven years later, finishing behind four ruminants in the livestock barn and the corndogs at the concession stand.

Why were the Republicans -- personified by 23,000-odd Iowans -- so cruel to a man who had done so much for them? The poor fellow never even made it to the 2000 primaries. Why was the career of Dan Quayle sacrificed to the radical fringe of his party?

Also, it is important to keep in mind that Weepin' Joe is not being purged from the Democratic Party any more than he was purged in 2004, when his presidential juggernaut sank tracelessly in John Kerry's formidable wake. Presumably, the principles of the party by which he agrees 98 PERCENT OF THE TIME! with, the principles that helped him gather what have been demonstrated to be incredibly vital endorsements by influential progressive pressure groups, will still be intact Wednesday morning, win or lose.

Presumably, as a good Democrat, he will realize that the best way to put those principles into action will be with a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, and that the election of a Democrat to replace him in Connecticut is vital to that effort. I am fairly sure that, if Ned Lamont wins the primary, he would be more than happy to sign himself up for a little Joementum to get him through the stretch drive.

Lastly, history turned itself on its head and wiggled its toes in Congress this week when Senator Hillary Clinton read Donald Rumsfeld the riot act over Iraq. Watching later, I recalled the moment when Madame Senator went before a House committee and was the recipient of the following greeting from Rep. Dick Armey (R-Oblivion):

I have been told about your charm and wit, and let me say reports of your charm are overstated and reports of your wit are understated.

So this week, she's sitting where Armey sat, and Rumsfeld's sitting where she sat, and nobody's telling me that HRC didn't get herself a little something-something in the area of karmic Get-Back against these clucks.

--Charles P. Pierce