Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 28, 2007

USE IT OR LOSE IT....If one were to list of all the reasons Joe Lieberman is annoying, it'd take a while. There's his support for the Bush/Cheney foreign policy; his broken promises from the 2006 campaign; his constant reinforcing of right-wing media frames; his support for GOP obstructionism; etc.

While all of those are, to be sure, maddening, I'd put an entirely different problem at the top of the list: his wholesale negligence as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Brian Beutler has a great piece today on "The Year in Oversight," and notes a point that doesn't get emphasized nearly enough:

There certainly have been gaffes, softballs, and missed opportunities. And the most obvious are found in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security -- the Senate's version of Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee in the House. Unlike Waxman's enthusiastic probing, the Senate chair conducted zero proactive investigations into Bush administration malfeasance. It's chairman? Connecticut's Joseph Lieberman.

A year ago, seeking re-election, Lieberman said this committee was his top priority, and he was desperate to return to the Senate so he could wield the gavel. And now that he has the authority he sought, he's decided not to conduct any real oversight of the administration at all.

He seems to have desperately sought a chairman's gavel just for the sake of having it -- Lieberman wanted power he had no intention of using.

I appreciate the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was in a bind before the 110th Congress began. Rumor has it, to keep Lieberman in the caucus, Reid had to give him the chairmanship -- or get stuck with a 50-50 split.

But consequences have to matter. Instead of a Senate Committee on Government Affairs that functions as it should, Lieberman just treads water, using his gavel as a flotation device. It's an embarrassing waste of what's supposed to be the Senate's watchdog committee.

Steve Benen 4:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

The Manchurian Senator.

Posted by: Neal on December 28, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Typical. You blast Leiberman, who's obviously raised the liberal's antisemetic eyer, for not accomplishing anything with his committee, but then you fail to mention the rest of the Democrats, who have become known as the do-nothing Congress. While Bush's poll numbers have recently begun soaring (likely due to his success in Iraq, his recent bipartisanism in passing the Dem's spending bill full of earmarks, etc) the Democrat's Congress is stuck in the low twenties.

Posted by: egbert on December 28, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

thanks again, CT!

Posted by: cleek on December 28, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

egbert- you got to stop eating those funny mushrooms you find in the yard.

Posted by: cboss on December 28, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

I raise my eyer-brow at egbert's illiteracy. Get a GED, you moron.
Better trolls please.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on December 28, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Do you suppose it was a payback for Karl Rove's decision to support Joe?

Posted by: jimbo on December 28, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert,

1) Steve
2) Lieberman
3) antisemitic
4) ire
5) not soaring
6) standoff in Iraq
7) both parties in Congress in toilet

Posted by: howie on December 28, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Holy Joe was re-elected because he was adopted by the Republicans. They gave him support and the votes he needed; he promised to function as a Republican.

He is chair of one of the committees that, if it functioned as an oversight/investigation committee, would expose the criminal corruption of the Bush/Cheney Junta. Can you imagine what some one who actually cared about our country would be doing in that role?

The Democratic "leaders" (and that includes Senators Clinton and Obama) betrayed us when then refused to get rid of Lieberman. Just once I'd like to hear a complete explanation.

I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: James E. Powell on December 28, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert! How I love thee. Your brilliance outshines the Cro Magnons here. You also forgot to mention Lieberman's sheer charisma, which is remarkable.

The surge is so successful it has blinded Liberals. And Bush is truly soaring, like a Great Eagle. Yes, we have LEADERSHIP in America, despite the Liberal fools.

Posted by: Free Lover of Freedom and Free Liberty on December 28, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Connecticut, and in the election last year, I had a chance to briefly speak to the senator at a rally. I asked him, "Are you saying that you promise to function as a Democrat despite the (I) behind your name?" And he looked me in the eye, and said he would. And I cast my vote for him instead of the Dem nominee thinking I could take the senator at his word.

I look forward to the day when the Democratic majority does not depend on this man.

Posted by: Carl on December 28, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Real question tho:
Will the Senate Dems have the balls to expel ol' Joe from the caucus after the 2008 election? They'll still have more than 50 and less than 60 seats, so what's the difference?
I say castrate him legislatively. He'll never get another committee, never see an amendment attached to anything, never get any pork back to good ol' CT. Make him regret turning traitor. Maybe he'll retire mid-term.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on December 28, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

> I appreciate the fact that Senate Majority Leader
> Harry Reid was in a bind before the 110th Congress
> began. Rumor has it, to keep Lieberman in the
> caucus, Reid had to give him the chairmanship --
> or get stuck with a 50-50 split.

Sooner or later members of the Democratic Party, as well as political analysts on the reality-based side of the spectrum, are going to have to accept that Henry Reid actually agrees with the courses of action he is "forced" to take. In other words, he is what would have been termed in the 1950s/60s a conservative Republican. Reid has located himself in the Democratic Party, presumably because he recognized that the Republicans were headed down the path to Radicalism and self-destruction (and have now fully arrived). But the fact is Reid does the things he does because he /agrees with/ most of the "muscular" Cheney positions.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

> Ah, Kevin.
>
> Typical.

Egbert,
Someone forgot to update the whiteboard there at Counter-Blogging Central: Kevin Drum is on vacation and 9/10 posts are being made by other WM staffers and editors.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

> And I cast my vote for him instead of
> the Dem nominee thinking I could take
> the senator at his word.

Since he had already broken his word to the Democratic Party (and really, to the entire state) by not accepting his party's primary results, why exactly did you believe anything he said? That wasn't a fib after all; it was a full-out backstab.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Cranky, Carl. You'd had plenty of reason to doubt Lieberman's Democratic credentials before he lied to your face. Both his post-primary conduct and his legislative record stank to high heaven. I'm afraid it's hard to have sympathy for your position.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is not a Democrat at all (and never was). I am convinced he is a plant. And it's fairly clever, actually--the Republicans find a nice, boring candidate to run as a Democrat in a state that probably wouldn't elect a Republican, knowing all the while that he will toe the Rep. party line. My only comfort lies in the fact that there must have been a fair amount of apoplexy over his loss in the Democratic primary.

Posted by: Winslow on December 28, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, of course, there was (as Kevin points out) nothing else Reid COULD do with the jackass through 2008. Since further Dem gains in the Senate next time are a virtual certainty (right now I peg them as gaining 4-5 seats, with tentative odds in favor of still more gains in 2010), the real question is whether they will indeed have the guts to give Lieberman the boot from that chairmanship once he's no longer indispensable. Anyone join me in betting that they WON'T? Reid, alas, has proven to be The Lion That Squeaked, which I wasn't initially expecting.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 28, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Connecticut, Florida of the Northeast!

Posted by: anon on December 28, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Carl, you should have asked if he promised to function as Joe Lieberman. And when he looked you in the eye and told you that he would, you should have turned around and voted for Lamont.

What you were basically asking him was if he was going to abandon his beliefs and start acting like the candidate you wished he was.

Had Lieberman won the Democratic primary and then been re-elected to the senate, his performance as committee chairman would have been no different.

Posted by: Tyro on December 28, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am convinced he is a plant
as in... Shrub?

Posted by: thersites on December 28, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Carl, you should have asked if he promised to function as Joe Lieberman. And when he looked you in the eye and told you that he would, you should have turned around and voted for Lamont.

What you were basically asking him was if he was going to abandon his beliefs and start acting like the candidate you wished he was.

Had Lieberman won the Democratic primary and then been re-elected to the senate, his performance as committee chairman would have been no different.

Posted by: Tyro on December 28, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

The progressives hung him out to dry - this is payback. Think about it - do you ever wonder why he he hasn't all ready joined the Republican party?

Need help? President Bush gets everything he wants due to gridlock-Joe's work. Democrats whine and yell, make promises, and then cave when the pressure is on. One plain old Joe is wrecking all your plans.

Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Bush Strategry seems to work every time.

Aren’t you progressives getting tired of losing even when you have the power?

Posted by: Orwell on December 28, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

> The progressives hung him out to dry - this is
> payback. Think about it - do you ever wonder why
> he he hasn't all ready joined the Republican
> party?

Darn those pesky Connecticut Democratic Party members and those Connecticut primary voters for not following instructions from the betters. Darn them for thinking that supporting every Bush/Cheney aggression was a bad idea in "their" Senator. Darn them for thinking "their" Senator should be responsive to them rather than them being obedient to The Senator.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think Reid, in hindsight, would have been better off with the 50/50 split and staying in the minority.

I know real governance, rather than Democratic hand-wringing and words of "we can't do any more," would be better off keeping gov't malfeasance pegged to a Senate GOP majority.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 28, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky, you're damn skippy about Reid. If only I have a Green to vote for, for Congress, as well as the Presidency, next year.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 28, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Senate is weighed toward rural states with low populations. But then it should be a simple matter to use the 'bully pulpit' of Congress to over-ride the Senate then.
So why won't the Vichy Dems do just that?

Do the right thing?

Don't tell me they can't because the big bad media is agin them. We all have the internet now. They can go directly to the people. The fact they are turning their back on the people is telling. They should be made to pay now just as much as this gang of Warthland 'security' criminals.

Come on Steve - you know the Dem elite is corrupt. It's time to reformat the disk. Enough with the Drum type bs.

Posted by: professor rat on December 28, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

> I know real governance, rather than Democratic
> hand-wringing and words of "we can't do any more,"
> would be better off keeping gov't malfeasance
> pegged to a Senate GOP majority.

It is an interesting question. On the one hand some of the Senate Committees are doing good investigative work. On the other hand, with Cheney/Addington having decided that the Executive Branch can simply refuse any subpoena and document request, and Gonzales/Mukasey having agreed with Addington not to prosecute anyone who refuses a Congressional requirement, it is not clear what the end result of those investigations will be. A lot of intransigence will go on the record to be sure, but it is a generally-held principle that the incoming Administration does not initiate new prosecutions of senior outgoing Administration members so I am not sure what that record will do.

It is probably better on net that Democrats (even if only nominal Democrats) be sitting in those Committee chairs but I do wonder if hanging it all on a GOP-controlled Senate would have been better.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is the quintessential political opportunist. He is simply doing whatever it takes to stay in the game. He will fuse his lips to whatever butt will help keep him in office. Connecticut Democrats will have to work hard to get enough independents together to beat him in the next election.

Posted by: CT on December 28, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully by this time next year, we will be rid of both Lieberman and Reid in Senate leadership roles. They have served W. Bush well, and they should be duly rewarded.

Posted by: Brojo on December 28, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

> Connecticut Democrats will have to work hard
> to get enough independents together to beat
> him in the next election.

I think Lieberman has made it pretty clear that if he doesn't get a Cabinet appointment in a 2009 Republican Administration that he will be setting up shop on K Street to lobby for Big Health Care against single-payer (or any other reasonable universal health care system). Chances are 90% he won't serve out his current term (esp if his committee assignments are taken away after 11/2008) and certainly won't run again.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Steve complains that, "Unlike Waxman's enthusiastic probing, the Senate chair conducted zero proactive investigations into Bush administration malfeasance..."

It's the incessant probing by Dems like Waxman which has resulted in Congress reaching record lows in popularity. Congress is more unpopular than the President! Larry Sabato recently pointed out, "The current, deep unpopularity of Congress also gives GOP House nominees an inviting target. They can run against the Democratic Congress just as the Democratic House nominees will undoubtedly run against President Bush." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/12/congressional_combat.html

Except for the BDS sufferers, the public is primarily interested in their own security. They want the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to do whatever they can to maintain security. They don't want more witch hunts.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 28, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I freely admit that it was entirely my mistake. I should have known, and of course I had good reason to know otherwise. I just thought I could take our party's VP nominee at his word to be, you know, a loyal member of the Democratic caucus. I thought Joe would be a better senator than Lamont, but I'm no longer sure what thinking led me to that result.

I'm not asking for sympathy, and I certainly deserve the opposite. But it especially irks me these days whenever I see anyone call Holy Joe a straight shooter or a man of integrity.

Posted by: Carl on December 28, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Fair enough, Carl. Sorry for being unnecessarily hard on you.

Posted by: shortstop on December 28, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Do I remember Lieberman's speech at the Democratic National Convention incorreclty but didn't he poke fun at his own rhetoric toward his Republican opponents? I thought his manner some sort of mockery. I remember thinking how no one in the MSM even brushed up agianst this phenomenon. Maybe its on YouTube and you can see what I mean. I can't find any video of the speech anywhere.

I believe and always will that Lieberman was a key factor in Gore's loss. We might ought to be thankful Gore lost: Liebermans possible asendancy to the Presidency could have been catastrophic judging from what we see now.

Posted by: OXYMORON on December 28, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly the nauseating sanctimony that has always characterized Lieberman's style should have tipped anyone off to what kind of legislator he would be.

Just what the country needs, another moral-spouting, craven, corrupt asshole.

I hope he is turned out of his committee chairmanship, and then publicly horsewhipped.

Posted by: jprichva on December 28, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

> On the other hand, with Cheney/Addington having
> decided that the Executive Branch can simply
> refuse any subpoena and document request, and
> Gonzales/Mukasey having agreed with Addington not
> to prosecute anyone who refuses a Congressional
> requirement, it is not clear what the end result
> of those investigations will be.

Interesting - even though Reid has arranged for the Senate to be in continuous session per the rules of the Senate, Bush is now claiming that the Senate is not in session and he can do whatever he pleases until they return.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on December 28, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

The point is not that Lieberman has failed to do any oversight. The point should be that his failure to wield the gavel he insisted upon having has prevented anyone else from wielding it.

Posted by: scotus on December 28, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's the incessant probing by Dems like Waxman which has resulted in Congress reaching record lows in popularity. Congress is more unpopular than the President!

Newsflash, you slavering dolt! Congress is always more unpopular than the president. That's because MY congressman is a great guy, but yours should go to prison with the other 534 criminals and crackpots. If your point had any merit, incumbency wouldn't be so hard to unseat. But you know that. And we know you wouldn't know a good faith argument if it walked up and kicked you in the ass.

Except for the BDS sufferers, the public is primarily interested in their own security. They want the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to do whatever they can to maintain security. They don't want more witch hunts.

Except for the BDS sufferers*,

the public is primarily interested in their own economic security.

Fixed it for ya.

They don't want more witch hunts.

Nice headfake. But it didn't work. We don't want witch hunts. We want oversight and accountability. There is a wide fucking chasm of difference between the two. But you know that, too, and we know your aversion to good-faith argument.

[*the BDS sufferers would be the 24%ers, like you. 70% consensus would indicate that you idiots are the ones who are deranged.]

Posted by: Volatile Compound on December 28, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

don't normally feed the trolls, but ...

eggbert!

Illiterate? Write now for free help!

Posted by: getaclue on December 28, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Scotus is correct.

Posted by: Nat on December 28, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

"It's the incessant probing by Dems like Waxman which has resulted in Congress reaching record lows in popularity."

Complete and total bullshit, of course, which is why you don't even pretend to support this bit of silliness. Can't you at least try anymore?

"They can run against the Democratic Congress just as the Democratic House nominees will undoubtedly run against President Bush."

ROFL.... No, actually, they can't, which is why you aren't seeing them do it. They aren't as dumb as you and your source.

"Except for the BDS sufferers, the public is primarily interested in their own security."

Yes, dear, particularly their economic security. In any case, since Republicans no longer have an advantage on any kind of security, and since we are demonstrably less safe than we were before Bush's ill-advised war, I'm afraid that once again, and as usual, you don't have a point.

"They don't want more witch hunts."

They want oversight, dear, which is what every poll on this issue demonstrates. Really, dear, even for you, this was pathetic.

Posted by: PaulB on December 28, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

maybe he wanted the power so someone else wouldn't use it.

Posted by: merlallen on December 29, 2007 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

The Senator from Israel should be impeached by the people of Connecticut. He doesn't represent them - he represents Jerusalem.

The only good thing that came out of the Great Election Theft of 2000 was that this liver-lipped turd did not become VP.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 29, 2007 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

Please, can't we end up with 60 Democratic senators in the next election? And please, double-please, can't we then just kick Lieberman off all of his committees?

Posted by: Anon on December 29, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Oh please, can we then tar and pork rind him?

Posted by: anon on December 29, 2007 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

ex: It's the incessant probing by Dems like Waxman which has resulted in Congress reaching record lows in popularity.


By a 2-to-1 margin, those who see little accomplishment in Congress's first 9-months blame the inaction on Bush and the GOP more than on the majority Democrats. - Wash. Post-ABC News polls 9/30/07

"The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it's working for us." - GOP Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott April-2007

The 62nd cloture vote of the session is more than any single session of Congress since at least 1973, the earliest year cloture votes are available online from the Senate. Republicans are on pace to force 134 cloture votes to cut off a filibuster, according to the Campaign for America's Future analysis, more than double the historical average of the last 35 years.


how's that working out?

Democratic leadership is "good for the country": 53% = yes....37% = no

- Opinion Research 12/09/07


party favoribility: GOP: 33% DEMS: 48%

- NYT/CBS 12/9/07


approval dems in congress: 40%
approval gop in congress: 32%
- Wash. Post/ABC 12/9/07

Posted by: mr. irony on December 29, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Leiberman will be an afterthought in 2009. His final four years in office will be a waste of taxpayers' money. His voice on the issues of the day will be ridiculed for its insignificance. The new Senate Majority Leader, Chris Dodd, willtake away the chairman's gavel, and give Joe the smallest, most remote office in the Senate office building. His staff will be cut in half. And, the good senator has no one to blame but himself. He can either be bitter or repentent, but I suspect the former suits Holy Joe better.

And, to think, all he had to do was provide a little oversight of the most corrupt, most wasteful, most-illconceived agency in the federal government. He's not even a principled "conservative" looking to fight waste, war-profitteering and reduce the size of government. His loyalty is not to the country, the Constitution or his constituents...its too some notion of nobility in supporting George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Egbert: How does liberal opposition to the Iraq War or oversight of taxpayer resources equate to "anti-semites?" Waxman...Feingold...Boxer? Synagogues throughout this country would proudly proclaim these senators "menches"...but Egbert is blinded by McCarthy-istic perceptions and fear.

Posted by: What In Tarnation...? on December 29, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

How 'bout a rule that anytime egbert gets the name of the poster wrong, as he does here calling Steve "Kevin" he gets banned from the thread?

[I suppose we could put it to a vote --Mod]

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Posted by: Lulli on March 19, 2010 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK
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