Lieberman tussles with Huffington over Iraq on Morning Joe, calls her ‘sweetheart’

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Is the retiring senator already letting loose on the air now that he doesn’t have to worry about reelection?

A day after announcing his intention to retire from the Senate rather than run in 2012, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to talk about his record and plans, and ended up in an argument with Arianna Huffington in which she hoped aloud that he wouldn’t become secretary of defense and he called her “sweetheart.”

A staunch supporter of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Lieberman defended the military efforts in both countries and told MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan he would vote for the Iraq invasion again based on what he knows now.

Lieberman: “I’m basing it on the so-called Duelfer report … Charles Duelfer conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our country. Nobody thought it was partisan. I wanna be very clear. He didn’t find big caches of weapons of mass destruction, but he found and proved I think that Saddam had every intention particularly to develop nuclear weapons, was developing chemical and biological weapons. and had a structure in place, including nuclear scientists, that he was prepared to support if he broke out of the sanctions, which he was inclined to do.”

Huffington responded: “Well, based on these completely unfounded assumptions, I sincerely hope that for the sake of the country you do not become secretary of defense.”

Lieberman: “Arianna, these are not unfounded.”

Huffington: “There’s nothing in the report that proves anything you’ve said.”

Lieberman: “I don’t think you’ve read it, sweetheart.”

Huffington remained on the in-studio panel after Lieberman’s interview was over, and Joe Scarborough, Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski objected to his treatment of Huffington.

Scarborough played the clip of the exchange, calling Lieberman, “raw and unedited and condescending.”

“Is this a Jimmy Cagney movie?” Scarborough asked incredulously while Chuck Todd predicted Huffington would get a call or e-mail from the senator.

Mary Katharine Ham