Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays, a Republican, is to the left of Joe Lieberman on Iraq.

A longstanding hawk on the war, Shays announced yesterday that the US should set a timetable to withdraw the bulk of its troops. “The only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for withdrawal,” Shays told reporters yesterday after his 14th trip to the region. As chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, Shays will lay out the details of his plan in a series of hearings next month, titled “Iraq: Democracy or Civil War?”

Shays finds himself in a tough re-election battle with Democrat Diane Farrell, so electoral politics may have influenced his change of heart. But either way, his call for withdrawal puts Shays ahead of most of his party–and Lieberman as well, who clings to an increasingly unpopular stay-the-course position.

In recent days, Lieberman has ratcheted up his criticism of opponents of the war. Doesn’t Joe know that 60 percent of Americans now fall into that category.

“If you take the position that Ned Lamont is, and a few other Democrats are, that we’ve got to announce that Congress, politicians have to tell the generals that it’s time to get everybody out of there, then I think as bad as the place is, Iraq now, it’s going to be infinitely worse, it will be an all-out civil war,” Lieberman told Don Imus on Wednesday, virtually parroting RNC talking points.

Lieberman is not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a neoconservative. Perhaps if he loses in November, the Weekly Standard will offer him a column.