11 November 2008

Call Lieberman's Masquerade What It Is

I have never been shy about stating just what I think of Joe Lieberman . . . if you've got nothing else to do tonight you can have a look here [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] . . . otherwise, I'll just quote myself:
"Joe Lieberman has repeatedly proven himself to be opportunistic, shortsighted, and irritatingly sanctimonious. In the past this has been just irritating. More recently, he has adopted increasingly bellicose positions that make him actively dangerous."
And that was before Joe endorsed McCain, addressed the Republican convention, and then spoke out against his own party's nominee in the presidential campaign. Lieberman claims that he was putting his own personal independent judgement about what is good for the country ahead of mere partisanship. This is bullshit. The bottom line is that Lieberman presents the facade of an "independent" as a way of masking the fact that he is single mindedly opportunistic. He does what he thinks is best for Joe. Period. That he stands out in that sense even among his colleagues in the Senate is truly astounding.

Now the Senate Democrats have to decide what to do. They can strip Lieberman of his seniority and attendant committee assignments (he is chair of the Homeland Security Committee and in line for other leadership positions on his other assignments). Lieberman could then decide what he wants to do, either continue causing with the Dems or sashay over to hang out with the Republicans (who have nothing committee wise to put on the table for him). This seems like a 'no brainer' to me.

Although the internal operations of the legislative branch are no business of the president, there are web reports here and here that Obama is inclined to want to keep Lieberman in the party caucus. Allegedly he wants to keep what really is a sideshow from distracting attention from more important matters of policy. I can see that point. But here are some others that, I think, override the narrowly prudential concern.

First, Homeland Security is an important portfolio and Lieberman is not trustworthy. About that there can be no doubt. So, why would anyone allow him to retain his post? Second, Obama can simply say, rightly, that the internal Senate decisions are not his affair and that he is keeping out of this. He might, in fact, invoke BushCo's consistent over reaching as the sort of thing that should be avoided. Third, Obama claims that he wants to change the way things are done in DC. To that end he could forthrightly state that while he is staying out of the Senate's decision, it is entirely appropriate for legislative leaders to punish those in their ranks who consistently place opportunism over principle, loyalty or trustworthiness.

This is not about bi-partisanship or reaching across the aisle. (For my views on such matters you can go here.) It is about taking a stand in the face of shameless self-regard.



Blogger Transient Reporter said...

Here are some reasons why Democrats may want to keep Lieberman:

1) If Franken and Begich win their senate seats, that's 59 - i.e. almost filibuster-proof. Remember that there are a couple Republican senators from Maine who are probably a little nervous right now as well.

2) The THREAT of pulling his chairmanship will be a better means of keeping Lieberman in line than sending him off to the Republicans.

3) Homeland Security may be an important committee, but who really cares now that the Democrats are in the White House?

11 November, 2008 00:43  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Obama is sending the wrong signal if hje's trying to prove his word about the new politics of bipartisanship. The way he'll be read is that the his party is to chickenshit to stand up for its principles. It would be a disgustingly, sniveling act to allow Lieberman to keep his senior position on committees of his choosing. Shame on Obama.

11 November, 2008 01:23  
Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

To borrow a phrase from Cheney, who was referring to Saddam Hussein: "Lieberman is a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

I think the Dems should hold on to Lieberman, as weaselly as he is, if he's willing to shut his mouth, and give them that almost-filibuster-proof advantage. If he's not: buh bye!

11 November, 2008 16:03  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Dawei! Wait a minute - there must've been a mistake in the ether ... it looks like you wrote "f he's willing to shut his mouth" about maybe the most sanctimonious person in the Senate!

TP ~ I actually think what the Dems should do is remove Joe from head of Homeland Security, preclude his ascent on Armed Service and allow him to replace (Byrd, I think) who is stepping down as chair of Energy & Environment ... in other words let him continue as a marginal member of the leadership in the caucus. We'll see.

11 November, 2008 19:03  

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