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This week Democratic senator and presidential wannabe Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut told a captive audience of Associated Press writers and editors in Washington that Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, should be reprimanded for his so-called criticism of Muslims.

Lieberman is the latest political figure to pile on Boykin following a report last week by the Los Angeles Times that the general had the audacity to say the current battle with Islamic fanatics is a battle between Christianity and “a guy named Satan.”

There was little new in Lieberman’s attack. He was using a tired, well-worn Democratic tactic of labeling Boykin with tired, well-worn Democratic lingo. He was feigning shock and annoyed disbelief. He was lecturing. He was mealy-mouthed. He was hypocritical.

In short, he was engaged in political pandering, mining for votes among the radical Islamic fanatic element in the U.S., as well as soft-hearted liberals who throw around terms like “bigot” and “intolerant” at anyone who correctly identifies Muslim terrorists as, well, Muslim terrorists.

Since he is a Jew, it is almost comical to hear Lieberman lecture anyone who disses radical Muslim fanatics. Surely he must know the same Islamist fanatic element he is trying to “reach” would most certainly car bomb him into oblivion first chance they got – you know, to show their appreciation of his attention and support.

But this is an election year and there are votes to be won. So the lecturing goes on and the fact that it is ridiculous or hysterically ironic is inconsequential.

Here’s a sample. During the interview, one of the “hardball” questions asked by AP was whether or not Boykin should be dismissed from his job. “Based on his comments or on a failure to catch bin Laden? Or both?” Lieberman quipped.

Ha, ha. Such scorn, however, would also be useful in a related conversation about Lieberman’s old running mate Al Gore and his old running mate Bill Clinton. Osama wandered the earth freely during the eight years of Clinton-Gore. If you were Osama you were only in danger of being killed if you happened to be in a Sudanese aspirin factory, an abandoned “terrorist training camp” in Nowheresville, Afghanistan, or anytime another Clinton sex scandal erupted.

And dismissed from his job? Boykin is the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. During his Army career, he attained the rank of lieutenant general. The nation has invested years – as well as millions of dollars – training him, grooming him for his position, preparing him for one of the top jobs in the Department of Defense. Of course, let’s blow all that and dismiss him for making an honest observation. Using that standard, if this were Dec. 8, 1941, AP would ask if FDR planned to dismiss anyone who dared observe Japan and “Satan” were at work at Pearl Harbor.

Though a President Lieberman obviously would not, President Bush did blow off Boykin’s comments. Or, more accurately, he blew off the media’s questions regarding them. “Look, it just doesn’t reflect what the government thinks,” said the president.

Well, Lieberman hinted, that’s atypical of this administration. “The United States under George Bush is extremely unpopular in the world, including in the Arab-Islamic world,” he huffed. ‘Doesn’t reflect what the government thinks,’ indeed.

What a news flash. I’m surprised AP didn’t run this headline: “U.S. Not Popular Everywhere Under Bush; Dem Prez Contender Says He’ll Be Liked.”

If an administration’s success depended on winning global popularity contests, then every president since Washington has been unsuccessful. Lieberman’s pathetic pandering suggests, under his tutelage, our enemies will suddenly become friends and no one will ever hate us again. How utterly visionary, if not ludicrous.

I notice many of our “worst” critics still line up to base our troops, still vote with us when the chips are down, and still rely on us to protect their nations. If that’s what Lieberman is calling hatred, you have to wonder what he’s calling the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the attack on the USS Cole and the scores of attacks against Americans by “peaceful” Muslims since the Reagan years.

Tough times require tough decisions by tough leaders who do what has to be done to ensure American safety. Pandering away our national security because someone’s feelings are hurt is more than dumb, it’s dangerous.

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