DID BILL STRIKE A DEAL? As we all know, Joe Lieberman called in Bill �Big Dog�
to Waterbury yesterday to help his ailing re-nomination effort. It was all hugs and kisses with the predecessor to the other president Lieberman has been known to embrace. In the Post�s report, David Broder writes:

The two have remained close through the years, despite the fact that Lieberman admonished Clinton for his moral laxity in the Monica Lewinsky affair in a celebrated Senate floor speech. Lieberman made no reference to that event Monday night but instead recalled, "I was the first senator outside Arkansas to endorse Bill Clinton for the nomination in 1992."

Now, surely Clinton is first to determine who, among Democrats, is permitted to exonerate Lieberman for that 1998 speech. But even if the Big Dog has forgiven Joe (I can�t imagine he�s forgotten), it is precisely this Democrat-when-I-wannabe instrumentalism on Lieberman�s part that has him in the stew in the first place: He�s all selective memory, and always for his own benefit. One sees why he fits in with the current occupant of the White House just as comfortably as he did the previous one.

But the most interesting comment from Clinton yesterday was this one: �I have nothing against Joe�s opponent. He has a right to run.� This smells of poll-tested crapola: Lieberman realizes that the attitude of entitlement to the re-nomination he�s exhibited thus far is hurting him -- an attitude which shone through brightly at times during his debate with Lamont a few weeks ago. I�m sure his daily polling has since revealed his aggrieved sensibilities are costing him, so he suddenly is trying to demonstrate a magnanimous respect for the process and other Democrats. So he presses the Magnanimator-in-Chief into service.

Clinton has said he will support Ned Lamont if he wins. The real question I�d like Broder or somebody else to ask Clinton before August 8 is this: Did you, as a condition of agreeing to back Joe before the primary, tell him that you would ask him to respectfully abandon his independent candidacy if he lost the primary?

If Clinton established that condition beforehand, his credibility in backing his longtime friend is beyond challenge. And if Lieberman agreed, he can restore his own Democrat credentials by holding up his end of that bargain.

Somebody get Broder to get Bill on the phone.

--Tom Schaller