Senator Joe Lieberman in today's New York Times regarding rumors that he might some day replace Donald Rumsfeld as President's Bush's Secretary of Defense: "It's a total fantasy. There's no truth to it."
Asked about the same rumor in this morning's Washington Post, Lieberman called it a "Washington fantasy."
What Lieberman left out, and the Post and Times either did not report, or perhaps did not even know, is that the Bush administration did apparently at one time include Lieberman on a very short list to replace former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as Secretary of Homeland Security. How serious Bush was in his consideration of Lieberman is perhaps only known by the President himself and a few senior advisors. (President Bush, Andrew Card, and Karl Rove don't return phone calls from this particular blog-- yet.)
The more salient point, however, is that the Bush White House let Lieberman know in a very serious sort of way that they were considering him for a cabinet position. My sourcing regarding this are people with direct knowledge of the matter, including a couple of people on Capitol Hill close enough to Lieberman, and had talked directly to him about it at the time.
And, for those who know Lieberman, he would have considered this more than mere flattery. One person who spoke directly to him said it would have been the perfect career coda for a U.S. Senator, former Democratic nominee to be the Vice President of the United States for his party, to then be named to a major cabinet position in a Republican administration.
Lieberman sees his legacy as being another Arthur Vandenberg. (Just read this speech.)
Would talk of appointment as a cabinet secretary have colored his outlook on the Bush administration? Some enterprising reporter should put the question to his Senatorial colleagues.