WEEPIN' JOE STILL AT IT. "The point I was trying to make was about how we disagree. My concern was, and remains, that if opponents or supporters of the war go beyond disagreeing to exploiting the war for partisan political purposes, much like Republicans did to Max Cleland on homeland security, we could lose more than an election. We could put our mission in Iraq, the lives of thousands of American soldiers carrying it out, and our national security at risk. That is what I care about."

If anybody in Connecticut needed a reason to vote against Weepin' Joe Lieberman -- whose bladder, as my old Irish granny used to put it, is far too close to his eyes -- that quote should just about do it. (And, before anyone mentions it, yes, I know Cleland has campaigned for him. Hell, Joe's made a career out of sponging off the loyalty of his betters, why stop now?) Let's just unpack some of the bovine fodder therein, shall we? First, here's the statement in question:

It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.

You'd have to be drunk or Cokie Roberts to interpret that as a warning about the manner of criticism. Does one "undermine presidential credibility" if one points out what a screw-up the incumbent is, or just if one says it really loudly? I'd call this weaselish, but I worked in a zoo once and have far too healthy a regard for the critters.

Secondly, what Democratic politician has done anything to Bush -- or to Weepin' Joe himself, for that matter -- remotely similar to what the GOP did to Cleland? They matched him up in an ad with Osama bin Laden, for pity's sake. Nobody had to use any technical wizardry to put Lieberman in the arms of President 37 Percent. He did that on his own. Finally, Cleland was attacked over issues relating to the ongoing struggle with al Qaeda, the group that actually attacked us in 2001. Specifically, he got middled on the Department of Homeland Security. Lieberman's in trouble because he went hook, line, and soundbite for the notion that PNAC's Excellent Adventure in Iraq had something to do with the fight against al Qaeda. That's a mistake worth losing an election over. But, beyond that, the desperate tap-dancing above bespeaks someone who's spent far too long being told he's funny by the likes of Don Imus, important by the likes of Tim Russert, and a good Democrat by the likes of Sean Hannity.

--Charles P. Pierce