Friday, November 07, 2008

Holy Joe Has to Go

A time of reckoning is upon us. Or, rather, upon the Senate.

Since 2001, Joe Lieberman has been a thorn in the side of Democrats, beginning with his criticism of Al Gore and running right through his endorsement of John McCain. When told by the party that his services were no longer required, he ran the ultimate "Democrat for a Day" campaign and used Republican votes to retain his Senate seat. He exploited the need for 51 votes in the Senate to hold on to his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Like Zell Miller, he has trashed his own legacy as a Democrat in his zeal to kick the party while it was down and kiss up to power.

The NYT has an article: Among Democrats’ Leadership Questions: What to Do With Lieberman? It lays the problem out fairly well:

With the Democrats now guaranteed to hold at least 56 seats without Mr. Lieberman, he could be stripped of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, a move that could prompt him to join the Republicans.

The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, met with Mr. Lieberman for a half-hour Thursday and issued a terse statement saying no decisions had been made. Aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Reid had suggested that Mr. Lieberman relinquish his chairmanship in exchange for a less prominent position.

At a brief news conference after the meeting, Mr. Lieberman promised to support President-elect Barack Obama, but he did not disclose his plans and did not take questions.

Many Democrats say Mr. Lieberman had crossed a line not only by endorsing Mr. McCain, his longtime friend, but also serving as one of his closest advisers and by sharply questioning Mr. Obama’s qualifications to be president. Some Senate Democrats and aides say it is unthinkable to let Mr. Lieberman head a committee that will conduct oversight of the Obama administration.

Mr. Reid restated the dismay felt by many Democrats. “While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus,” he said.

The problem is not, as you might think, with Lieberman. He has made his positions perfectly clear over the years. We know where he stands and what he will do. It is not even, as the article alludes, that he would be some kind of internal enemy to the Obama administration. (Side note - this story makes me chuckle as Obama was perpetually villified in the Left Blogosphere as being an ally and enabler of Lieberman, with people pointing to his reluctance to campaign for Ned Lamont as proof of his real allegiance.)

The problem is whether or not the Democrats will act like a party and will use power to punish those who have harmed them now that they have the political upper hand. The question is party discipline and sending out an unequivocal message that those who are not on board are out.

Unless Harry Reid was telling Lieberman to direct his staff to hand over materials relating to all of his committee positions, there was nothing to discuss. Lieberman does not get to choose whether he will relinquish his post and he should not get any lesser position. His leverage is gone. He should be unceremoniously dumped from all committees and made into a political pariah.

That's how politics is played.

If Joe wants to caucus with the Democrats, that's nice. Let him sit in the back and fume. If he wants to stomp off and caucus with the Republicans, that's nice too. He can go change his party affiliation while he's at it and stop the charade. The Democrats have a solid majority without him and need to look ahead to 2010 for the next set of senators to put them comfortably beyond the filibuster threat.

But make no mistake that the test here is of Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership. If they will not stand up to Lieberman, I think we can see where the legislative agenda is going.



R. S. Martin said...

Lieberman reflects an up-is-down, right-is-left weirdness in Connecticut with regard to that Senate seat. His predecessor in it, Lowell Weicker, was a Republican and caucused with the GOP, but he voted with the Democrats in much the same way Lieberman goes against them. When Lieberman successfully challenged Weicker in 1988, he did so with, among other things, the endorsement of William F. Buckley, Jr. I was at the big Democratic election night party in Detroit in 1988, and people were literally crying when the news was announced that Lieberman won.

Lieberman's idea, like Weicker's, seems to be that if you're nominally of one party, but belong to the other in practice, you're a sure reelection bet. You get substantial support from the opposing party's voters as well as party-line votes from your own side. The people who support your party but recognize how treacherous you are have nowhere to go.

With regard to Lieberman and Reid, Reid should strip him of committee assignments the way Tip O'Neill did to Phil Gramm 25 years ago. If Lieberman wants to actively collaborate with the GOP and stab his own party in the back, then let him switch sides for real.

Unknown said...

'SellOut' Reid....wait until the turn of the year and you will see why I call him that.

Be interesting to sit on the upcoming chat Rahmbo and The Precious will be having about Crazy Joe...

The only other meetup I'd rather be a fly on the wall is the one between 'W' and The Magic Man.

That one...

I can't even imagine it really.

Unknown said...

Oh, who cares? Democrats, Republicans -- what does it matter anymore? Welcome to the New World Order. The only thing I know is they're going to make us pay. They don't care about us at all. We're just ants to them.

Koshem Bos said...

Lieberman is and was a friend of the unions; his social views are liberal.
Becoming a Republican might endanger some of his views and worth analyzing.

Anglachel said...


But he has deliberately and publically fucked over the party. He can't be allowed to do that.

If he is liberal in his social views, he can continue to vote as he always has. Nothing stops that. But what he cannot do is expect the perqs of party seniority when he has turned against the party the way he has done.

This is damage he has brought onto himself and which the party is now in a position to address.