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Washington's open season on RINOs and DINOs in both parties

December 15, 2009 |  6:04 am

It seems President Obama is not quite there yet in fulfilling his hopeful campaign promise to change the harsh partisan tone in the nation's capitol.

In the true joyous spirit of the approaching family holidays, both parties are being convulsed these days with attempts to root out ideological infidels. And it's all exacerbated by the approaching emotional crunch of the neverending healthcare debate.

Some on the Republican right are going after RINOs, Republicans in Name Only, those perfidious politicians who proclaim allegiance to the party of Lincoln without standing on all its planks.

Republican Sarah Palin and Independent Joe Lieberman

Right now, top accused RINO there is Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who had the audacity to vote for a Democrat Supreme Court nominee and to negotiate with Democrats over cap-and-trade. Monday called Graham "the Watermelon Man," as in "green on the outside, pink on the inside."

Over on the left the hunting parties are tracking a DINO, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman, who's incurred their wrath because he's opposed to a government option in the healthcare bill and mentioned he might support a Republican filibuster if it ever came to that.

He's also done all kinds of traitorous things like support and campaign for Republican John McCain in last year's presidential election and speak at the GOP convention.

Perhaps worst, Lieberman was photographed publicly hugging Sarah Palin, who is so irrelevant and politically inconsequential that many are still talking about her a year later.

The trouble about denouncing Lieberman for not really being a Democrat is that he's not really a Democrat. His party dumped him in the 2006 primary over his Iraq war support. So he ran as an Independent, Republicans silently let their guy swing in the wind and JL won. He meets now with the Democratic Senate caucus, which badly wanted to spank him after 2008.

The problem with that is, Lieberman is that crucial 60th Democrat vote that could neuter Republican opposition to whatever, giving the son of a liquor store owner what they call "clouf" in Chicago. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff who like his boss was raised in the wily ways of the just-do-whatever-it-takes-to-win Chicago political machine, reportedly sent word over to Senate leader Harry Reid to work something out with Joe.

Still, the pressure builds. Jane Hamsher, a longtime harsh Lieberman critic and founder of, is now going after Lieberman's wife, Hadassah, as a spokesman for the Komen Race for the Cure because of her husband's opposition to the government option. One survey shows 80% of Democrats want Lieberman stripped of his Senate chairmanship if he goes GOP on healthcare.

So will Lieberman, who knows about being a losing Democrat VP candidate from 2000, ever pull a Specter and walk across the aisle to join the other party? Probably not. He'd just be one of a small crowd over there. As much as it annoys Reid right now, Lieberman's in the pilot's seat where he is.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chris O'Meara / Associated Press