Lieberman to go Republican? Update: Maybe -- if Dems defund the war; Update: Would it matter?

E&P:

The next issue of Time magazine, due on Friday, features several takes on the Iraq war and domestic politics.

“Independent” Sen. Joe Liebeman receives a mini-profile titled “What Joe Wants,” a key question since he is “the Senate’s one-man tipping point.” Republicans, the magazine says, are “courting him” and Lieberman “has been indulging in some fairly immodest political footsie.”

Lieberman calls jumping to the Republican side, and tilting the Senate, “a remote possibility,” which means there’s at least a chance of that.
Time seems to push Lieberman in this direction, as the article concludes: “Lieberman’s GOP flirtation has its risks–and a time limit….The longer he waits to capitalize on his moment, the greater the danger that he’ll be tagged as one of those politicians for whom having power is more important than using it.”

Update (AP): There’s more to this than the E&P excerpt would suggest. Quoth Politico:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties, but suggested Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind…

He suggested, however, that the forthcoming showdown over new funding could be a deciding factor that would lure him to the Republican Party.

“I hope we don’t get to that point,” Lieberman said. “That’s about all I will say on it today. That would hurt.”

He’s been making noise about this since literally a week after the election. Exit question: Is Liebs going to stop the slow bleed? Bonus exit question: If he switches, will newly anti-war moderate Republican Gordon Smith switch the other way? He’s up for reelection in 2008 and comes from the bluish state of Oregon. Why not?

Update (AP): Keep an eye on Memeorandum as some pretty vicious rants and important action alerts inevitably pile up.

Update (AP): The Influence Peddler e-mails to say that Hagel’s quotes in the E&P piece are even more ominous than Liebs’s, and if there’s anyone in the GOP likely to switch, it’s him. Good point.

Update (AP): Er, does Liebs know that his switching parties wouldn’t affect control of the Senate?