Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 7, 2008

WHAT LIEBERMAN FINDS 'UNACCEPTABLE'.... As political theater goes, the exploits of Joe Lieberman really are odd.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reached out to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) about the prospect of joining the Republican conference, but Lieberman is still bargaining with Democratic leaders to keep his chairmanship, according to Senate aides in both parties.

"Senator Lieberman's preference is to stay in the caucus, but he's going to keep all his options open," a Lieberman aide said. "McConnell has reached out to him and at this stage his position is he wants to remain in the caucus but losing the chairmanship is unacceptable."

A Republican Senate aide said Friday morning that there was little McConnell could offer in terms of high ranking committee slots, which is why Lieberman is resisting overtures from the Republican side.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to multiple reports and sources, has no intention of allowing Lieberman to stay on as chairman of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. A Lieberman aide told the Politico that "essentially what transpired is that Senator Reid talked about taking away his position perhaps for another position and Sen. Lieberman indicated that was unacceptable."


Look, Reid is offering Lieberman a very sweet deal. By some counts, much too sweet. Lieberman betrayed the Democratic Party and broke his word to his own Democratic constituents. Reid is nevertheless willing to a) let him stay in the Democratic caucus; b) keep his seniority; and c) give him the chairmanship of something else. That, by any reasonable measure, is ridiculously gracious of Reid. It's certainly more generosity than Lieberman deserves or has earned.

And yet, Lieberman thinks that's "unacceptable."

What possible incentive could Reid and Senate Democrats have to offer Lieberman an even better deal? The message is, or at least should be, surprisingly straightforward: "If you don't like the generous offer, join the minority party." It must drive Lieberman crazy, but the fact remains that Democrats don't really need him. He has no leverage.

Or, put another way, what Lieberman finds "unacceptable" is of no consequence.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (119)

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don't go away mad; just go away...

Posted by: lutton on November 7, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

The definition of unwarranted chutzpah.

Posted by: mamased on November 7, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Which is why 49 is a big number, 59 is a big number, and 61 is the biggest of them all. Anything between 49 and 59 is meaningless as far as this election goes, which is why we're not hearing hourly updates on county-by-county totals in Alaska, Minnesota, or Georgia.

Posted by: Matvey on November 7, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Hannity was bloviating last night about the terrible terrible 'partisan' way Democrats are treating Joe Lieberman.

He must think all his viewers are stupid. How would the GOP treat a Republican Senator who campaigned not only for the Democratic candidate for President but for the down ticket as well?

One can only hope that karma exists; Lieberman is a genuinely loathsome individual.

Posted by: Artemesia on November 7, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck. Him.

Posted by: Gore/Feingold '16 on November 7, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK


He was a terrible vice presidential candidate, hoodwinked his own constituents, is the Senator from
AIPAC, spoke repeatedly and obnoxiously against Democrats and the Democratic candidates during the election. Let him go!

Posted by: Cycledoc on November 7, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The trouble is, the Dems still do need Lieberscum's vote: lets face it, drive him to the Republicans and he'll never vote against -them-, so he's lost for those issues where we need to break the filibuster. Red Joe is the difference between persuading/bribing Snow and Collins, and having to find a 3rd to bribe

Posted by: firefall on November 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Reid can call the Knesset and see if they have a position for 'Ole Joe.
After all, he'd be representing his true constituents there.

Posted by: citizen_pain on November 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Good bye, Joe.
You oughtta go
Straight to Hell-o.
Hope Harry's spine
Isn't Jell-o...

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on November 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is under the mistaken impression that he's in a position to negotiate here. Like Steven said, what sort of leverage does he think he has?

Posted by: jonas on November 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you what's unacceptable:

The spinelessness of Harry Reid.

I hope Rahm pulls him into a small room and punches him in the gut a few times.

Posted by: Racer X on November 7, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a peaceable girl, but I'd like to backhand Joey Leebs across the mouth. What. Freaking. Gall.

Posted by: shortstop on November 7, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we offering him anything? Simply to save face? I say, screw him. He can leave.

Besides, while 60 would be nice, we don't really need it as long as we can find a few straggler Republicans who no longer want to be associated with their freakshow party. It's not like filibusters are inherently waged on party lines, so we just need to find a few moderate-types who don't want to lose their seats next time around. With some Republican Senators already trying to cozy up to Obama even before the election, I imagine even more would like the privilege of associating with the sane party too (not that there are many of these left). But in any case, Lieberman can always choose to side with or against Republicans on any filibuster no matter which team he's on, so I don't see why it really matters. And as others have said, if he joins the Republicans, this is his last term as Senator; and I couldn't be happier with that.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 7, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord, does anyone remember what the Republicans did to Jeffords? And he never actively campaigned for the Dem nominee.

Posted by: Jake on November 7, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman switched parties from D (Democrat) to I (Independent) and then ID (Idiot Democrat) in 2006, correct? With just 2 years of seniority and a record of erratic behavior, is he really ready to chair any committee?

Posted by: Boolaboola on November 7, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

But firefall, Joe will never vote to break a Republican filibuster, so the point is moot.

Posted by: Jeff on November 7, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know what, Joe? YOU'RE UNACCEPTABLE.

It's better to find another moderate republican (they're out there) than to give this jackass preferable treatment after what he's done.

Failure to punish him is going to create problems within the Democratic Party.

Posted by: bdop4 on November 7, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

And here's the rub. Joe Lieberman, because he's a duplicitous prick, will have no influence in Washington with either party. I hope he gets his clock cleaned in his reelection bid in 2012.

Posted by: z_adura on November 7, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well then, we need to strip Mr. Reid of his position also. Kick LIEberman to the curb or be put in the trash with him.

Posted by: Rick on November 7, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Unacceptable = Let me keep my chairmanship, and I'll agree to side with the Democrats on all cloture votes through the end of my term.

Posted by: No Filibuster on November 7, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Or, Joe, how about a fallback offer of a huge kick in the ass? Would that be acceptable?

Man, the self-centered chutzpah of this chazzer...

Posted by: DH Walker on November 7, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems do need Loathed-man's vote--but he also needs to vote with them, if he has any hope of winning re-election. He could threaten to vote with the Repugs, but those votes would be used against him when he ran again in a pretty leftward state.

His biggest threat would be to resign--and have the Repug governor appoint his successor. But I think his ego is too addicted to his stature as a Senator for him to consider that. And it would still leave the Dems with a healthy majority.

He's already gotten a much sweeter deal than he had any right to; he's like a murderer who just walked away with community service. It's further testament to his chutzpah, arrogance and ego that he doesn't see how light his sentence is.

Posted by: gradysu on November 7, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

You did not even note Liberman's recent comment to the effect that the Democrats having a filibuser-proof majority would not be a good thing; which indicates that even if he were the theoretical vote no. 60, he would not be a reliable one - not that that should ever have surprised.

I hope Reid shows sufficient spine this time to say that Lieberman will be tolerated as a member of the caucus, but that is it. If his ego can't take that and he cannot play nicely with the Republicans either, by all means let him retreat to his own little caucus of one. It would suit him.

Posted by: Nick Nayme on November 7, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Caucusing with the democrats was no favor. It was a pledge to his constituency. Why no reporting on what the citizens of Conn. think of their senator?

Posted by: ThatGuy on November 7, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Joe has already indicated he'll help the Republicans with their filibuster. And that is after he helped the Republicans break the Democrats' filibusters in the past.

It will be easier to find a 3rd republican to bribe/persuade then it will be to bribe/persuade Lieberman.

Posted by: DR on November 7, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow I just don't trust Joe.

He's way too much of a hawk for my tastes.

He doesn't seem to have a clue what serving your country means.

Much too much of a military-industrial pawn to hold a Chairmanship, except maybe in a Repugnacan administration a generation from now.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 7, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I hope Rahm pulls him into a small room and punches him in the gut a few times."

I believe Harry Reid was a champion middleweight boxer in High School, so my money would be on Reid in that confrontation.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on November 7, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Unacceptable"--he keeps using that word. I do not believe it means what he thinks it means.

Posted by: Randomfactor on November 7, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

If Reid leaves Lieberman in charge of the Homeland Security committee, he will be able to make no end of mischief. Lieberman would exact revenge on the Dems by ginning up bogus issues to investigate. It would be more phony outrage a la the endless "scandals" of the Clinton years.

No way. This is right out of "The Godfather". Lieberman betrayed the family, the family has bided its time, but now they are gonna go all Luca Brasi on him.

Posted by: Karen on November 7, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

This "unacceptable offer" is entirely too generous to that piece of shit. Let us help you out Joey Lie ... which way did you come in?

I still prefer they give Joey the Al Capone treatment. Just sayin'.

Posted by: ckelly on November 7, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

possibly a vote for reid as majority leader....

as suggested by lawrence odonnell this a.m. on joescar. his rationale was that the ct voters would take care of holy joe in 2012.

Posted by: linda on November 7, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I find the unwillingness of supermodels to sex me up ... unacceptable.

Posted by: pourmecoffee on November 7, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is obviously a narcissistic egotist who believes himself to be one of the chosen few. No wonder he operates with so much blind hubris regarding his self-perceived importance, and no wonder he finds so many things in the real world "unacceptable." What a putz! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on November 7, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK


Even if somehow the Dems bag the still-unsettled Senate races and hit 60, we can always find a GOP senator on any specific issue who can be flipped to invoke cloture, if needed.

This idea that you need a supermajority of 60 votes to get business done in the Senate is a media myth borne of GOP obstructionism. You can't filibuster EVERYTHING in the Senate.

He campaigned for McCain/Palin for chrissakes. He spoke at the GOP.



Posted by: rnato on November 7, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

What Reid should do is tell Lieberman that a) he must immediately leave the Democratic caucus; b) his seniority has now been stripped away; and c) he can keep his lunch money without getting the snot kicked out of him so long as he never speaks to any Democrat ever again.

It's a much fairer offer than he deserves, and maybe it will teach him to not be such a douche bag when he's given an extremely generous offer in the future.

Posted by: Luther Brixton on November 7, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I meant, he spoke at the GOP convention.

If there are some smart GOP senators, they might flip to the Democratic side for the sake of their future electability. The GOP is headed down into the crapper, the DNC is going to have a lot more money to spread around for future campaigns.

Posted by: r€nato on November 7, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Let the GOP have him! Kick him out of the caucus 100%! Tell him he's not welcome and he's on his own (maybe some of his old friends would vote to give him an office space in the basement).
Gutless Harry will no doubt let Joe stay. I wouldn't even be speaking to Joe if I was in Harry's chair.
But then, I would have made the GOP read the phone book all night when they said "filibuster."

Posted by: AZmando on November 7, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

'Zackly, 'zackly, 'zackly. The Dems don't necessarily need his votes to make 60, he wouldn't be a reliable 60th anyway, and running up a nice string of votes with the Republicans would be a sweet way of dooming his own reelection chances. Reid should kick him to the curb, but just as important: From day one of the new congress, Reid had better start making the Republicans actually filibuster every time they want to cock something up. Not threaten to filibuster--actually get up there and read the phonebook all night. They want to stand in the way of what the electorate voted for, let 'em do it in person, on the teevee, in the eyes of the world.

Posted by: forked tongue on November 7, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is something, isn't it? When papers endorsed McCain they lost their seats on Obama One. Leiberman rejects the Obama kool-aid and he loses his chairmanship. I guess "change" doesn't include changing the imperious, self-righteous, no-questions operations of the Presidency many have been criticizing for the last 8 years. That's just great.

Posted by: Jacko in VA on November 7, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad that Rape Gourney Joe is brought low, but why even plan to keep him in the Senate to screw things up? Obama should offer him an ambassadorship somewhere irrelevant, and then the Dems can get a REAL Democrat to replace Rape Gurney Joe from true blue Connecticut.

Posted by: T. Paine on November 7, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I too find the current offer unneccessarily gracious, but perhaps Harry scores a point if Joe walks, rather than just booting him.

And speaking of Reid growing a spine, how about he starts making the Rethugs *actually* filibuster, rather than just threatening. Can't you picture President Obama running a press conference everyday that says "Well, we're trying to get program X done for the American people, and I called Harry Reid to find out how it's going, and he told me that Senator McConnell is up there reading the phone book instead of voting on the legislation. What's up with that?". Make them bring this obstruction out in the open and see if they can get support to block a whole agenda.

We hold the cards now. I can't figure out if Harry Reid has fully realized it yet.

Posted by: short fuse on November 7, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if we Connecticutians have the ability to recall Jackass Joe?

Posted by: maurinsky on November 7, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

We know he's not the smartest person. Anyone with half a brain would've saw that the Democratic Party were going to pick up seats in both Houses, regardless of who won the White House.

I still maintain that there's something about Lieberman's actions that demonstrate there's more going on here than we publicly know.

I simply don't see what he could possibly offer the Democratic Party that would be worth keeping him where he is.

Could it be all this 60-seat filibuster-free stuff? I'm inclined to think no, because there's no guarantee Lieberman (or even any conservative Democrat) would tow the party line in crucial votes.

What I want to know is, has any Democrat publicly called for his expulsion or removal as committee chair?

Posted by: Mathew on November 7, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Most here are losing sight of two important points:

1. It is a lot harder to filibuster anything when the majority party holds the presidency if for no other reason that there are bills that cannot be filabustered.

2. One of Reid's conditions probably was that he owns Joe's vote on cloture.

3. The nuclear option still exists.

Lieberman has no place to go, which is a good thing.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on November 7, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK


Hyperbolize much?

Posted by: Travis on November 7, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto short fuse. What are they waiting for, make them fililibuster and look like the bunch of pieces of crap they are.

As far as Lieberman, Fuck him.

Posted by: Fred on November 7, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman's future is already decided. If he runs for re-election in 2012 he is toast. His own voters can't stand him (and Lamont will take it next time handily). Dump the scum.

Even if he switches parties, so what? He will be a Rethuglican for a mere 4 years and then be gone forever and the Dems will STILL have an overwhelming majority. It is quite simple, since the Dems aren't sitting at 60 seats, counting Lieberman, he is superfluous. Truly superfluous.

Flush the toilet, that Lieberman turd has stunk up the place for too long.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on November 7, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Politico reports that Joe is appealing to his fellow members of the Old Boys Club and "Most senators are receptive to Lieberman’s argument that allowing him to stay represents the type of unity that President-elect Obama espouses."

Lieberman citing Obama's message to keep his chairmanship reminds me of Sirhan Sirhan saying at his parole hearing, "If Bobby Kennedy were alive, he'd be in favor of forgiveness."

Posted by: gradysu on November 7, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

1) Remove him as chair.
2) His move.

If he leaves, so be it.
If he stays and he asks for a position elsewhere, entertain his requests.

Negotiating this way is more dignifying than he deserves.

He needs to be treated like the unemployed college age son living in the basement and buys beer instead of paying rent.

You give him a chance to clean up but respect is to be EARNED. He asks for the master bedroom, you don't offer him the guest room.

It's doghouse time.
If he's not cool with that, he's stupid, crazy, of sociopathic.
We have plenty of those already, thank you.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 7, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kick that fool to the curb! Take away his chairmanship and throw him out of the caucus. If the the rethugs are idot enought to take him, and I think they are, then let them. Then in 2012 send me a solicitation for a donation from whoever his opponent happens to be. I'll gladly give some of my hard earned cash to remove this bastard from office. He is "unacceptable."

Posted by: Winkandanod on November 7, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

rEnato brings up something that I've been trying to figure out for a long time -- This notion that 60 is the normal number of votes the Senate needs to pass important legislation. IT'S BULLSHIT.

The GOP instituted this policy the second the Democrats took over and Reid was too fatally compromised as a minority "Majority" leader to do anything about it.

He DOES NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM NOW. If he can't get 60 votes (or, basically, +3 from the terminally weakened GOP -- why just look at the conservative DeMint today, he's already calling McConnell a chickenshit for not demanding Stevens' head on a platter in the upcoming lame duck session, the GOP is rudderless, leaderless and can be easily swayed when ABSOLUTELY necessary.), he should make the fuckers actually filibuster the damn thing.

If Reid doesn't understand this or know this, he should be booted immediately. But I'm assuming he does. It's literally impossible for folks like us on the Interwebs to understand this better than a guy who has been in the Senate for 20 years. I'm hoping and praying that Reid government like a nooge since 2006 because he didn't even HAVE a majority to lead.

Regardless of the recounts, he now has a comfortable one. Lead with it goddammit.

Posted by: Jay B. on November 7, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bet you $50 he's relying on the fact that he was Obama's mentor in the Senate. When our next president tells him to get lost he'll whinge about Obama's lack of gratitude.

What? You expect to acknowledge all the crap he said during the election? L.O.L.

p.s. Please tell me the e-mail issue you all had is really fixed.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on November 7, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman didn't just extol the virtues of his friend, be launched nasty attacks on Obama. He went beyond the demands of friendship and often enough that it wasn't "just a slip". Lieberman meant what he said.

If there's no consequences for betrayal for Lieberman, Reid should step down.

Posted by: duBois on November 7, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Swell. Lieberman has learned not only bullshit rhetoric from Bush, but also inept negotiating tactics.


Posted by: Gregory on November 7, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Lieberman is a dishonorable pile of worthless shit. I say the hell with the possibility he will vote with the dems. He is a vile, traitorous, son of a bitch, who must never be allowed to stab his friends in the back again. Get rid of him. The air will smell a lot cleaner when this whiney little traitor is gone.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 7, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Let Joey go and drown all by his lonesome. Unacceptable my ass. He should feel lucky to even be allowed to caucus with the Dems. Hold a position of chairman - NEVER. Say bye bye Joey.

Posted by: wom45 on November 7, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

One of the Republican congressmen said yesterday that with Tuesday's losses, they are finally free to think. If true, that means he believes the party no longer owns its members and that we can expect fewer filibusters and rules gamesmanship. I'll believe it when I see it. These guys weren't hired for their principles, you know.

Posted by: Danp on November 7, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wait and see. I predict the Mutual Protection Racket AKA US Senate will keep Joe happy inside the Dem caucus. Joe threw enough votes and money their way and that counts more than some shitty politicking for McCain.

Posted by: lou on November 7, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Joe the Traitor? Meet Joe the Plumber. You're getting flushed.

Posted by: Marko on November 7, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The only way this makes sense is if Joe knows where a lot of skeletons are buried. Hmmn.

Be a shame if the new democratic congress started things out with a huge scandal, wouldn't it? I can imagine Joe threatening something like that.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on November 7, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Continuing proof that Reid needs to be replaced as Majority leader ASAP.

Posted by: thorin-1 on November 7, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

When the time comes, I think we can find a 60th vote that can be bought for a few million $$$ in pork. Lieberman is costing way more, and has outlived his usefulness. Kick him to the curb.

Posted by: Alan on November 7, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

what the hell is lieberman's problem with his chairmanship? it's not like he was actually using it or anything.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 7, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Artemesia said:

Sean Hannity was bloviating last night about the terrible terrible 'partisan' way Democrats are treating Joe Lieberman.

He must think all his viewers are stupid.

It looks like I finally agree about something with Sean Hannity.

Posted by: TG Chicago on November 7, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The point I think is this. Obama expects to make deep changes in the ministry of fascism, currently run by Lieberman's friend Chertof. Lieberman wants a security state. He could significantly gum up the works by holding hearings on any changes and calling up his neocon friends to shout 'terra terra terra'. Obama doesn't need this. The country doesn't need it. Joe has to go. This concern far dominates any thneoretical filibuster-proof thinking.

Obama is playing chess here. Reid has his marching orders. Make it easy on Holy Joe, stroke him, but the bottom line is he's outta here when it comes to Homeland Security.

Posted by: knut wicksell on November 7, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

bye Joe. DO let the door hit you on the way to the minority!

Posted by: bruce on November 7, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, yeah - I agree with all that.

But I wonder, what does Lieberman get out of being chairman of the Homeland Security committee? Has he actually exercised some power that gives him a sense of worth? Has the committee accomplished something he's proud of in the past few years? Does he make more money? more perks? more respect?

Posted by: elef on November 7, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Simple: Joe the Asshole.

Posted by: Neil B on November 7, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is obviously nuts. Unacceptable! Reid needs to grow a spine and tell this jerk what's really unacceptable: having a narcissitic, delusional liar who's left the Party appropriate chairmanships that rightly belong to Democrats.

Posted by: Stacy on November 7, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Joe's only hope is this:
1) Minnesota recount goes for Franken
2) Georgia run-off goes for the Dems
3) Mysterious missing votes in Alaska turn up and are all for Begich.

One of those things happening is probable. Two are unlikely. All three would be hitting the lottery.

If those three events happen, the Dems have 60 votes - with Joe included. Then he'd have all kinds of leverage. The runoff isn't until Dec. 2nd, so I bet Joe is trying to run out the clock until the results come in.

Posted by: Vic on November 7, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

elef: But I wonder, what does Lieberman get out of being chairman of the Homeland Security committee?

I think he's simply prevented any meaningful oversight of DHS.

imo, allowing him to be the chair deprives a loyal Democrat of the position.

Posted by: Wapiti on November 7, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I'm really buying all this dismissive certainty about Lieberman's bargaining position, or his value in the Democratic caucus.

For instanceA: "49 is a big number, 59 is a big number, and 61 is the biggest of them all. Anything between 49 and 59 is meaningless"

Well, no.

Every vote between 56 (what they have now) and 60 (what they need) is another vote they don't need to get from the Republican side. And those votes are going to be hard to come by. If Lieberman is spurned, it will come back to haunt us with every single cloture vote that fails 59-41. I suspect that will happen at least a few times per session.

Lieberman knows this. And it means that his bargaining power is not merely the power of one vote that won't change anything - it's the power of THE swing vote that will change everything in a few key situations. He's like the Shas party in Israel: a tiny group of right-wing nutters who wield absurd influence over religious and social policy because they have just enough votes, and the ideological flexibility to wield them strategically, to singlehandedly tip the balance between Labor and Likud.

What the Democrats need to to is offer him some realistic but not pie-in-the sky deal in return for a firm promise to support the party on close votes. What Lieberman is hoping for is all his old perks plus a free hand to vote with the Republicans at every turn. They need to make it clear that he's going to toe the line or leave the caucus - AND lose his seat in 2012. But they have to be willing to make some kind of compromise. They need him out, as an open opponent, more than they need him in as a fair-weather supporter and close-vote backstabber - BUT they need him in as a real supporter much, much more than either of those, IF they can get it at a reasonable cost.

Posted by: Kevin T. Keith on November 7, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

If he's ousted, Lieberman will surely whine on Meet the Press about how the Democratic Party is purging all Serious Reasonable Centrists, or some baloney.

And it wont matter at all.

Lieberman tried that nonsense in 2006 and it didnt work. It's not going to work now, either.

He can try to say "Look, this is proof that Obama isnt serious about bipartisanship!" But Obama can counter

a) he's now in a different branch of government, so it's not his place to decide such things and

b) that the reason Lieberman broke for McCain was largely about Homeland Security-related issues. The American people decided they like Obama's views better, so it's appropriate to have that view represented in the Senate.

Obama and the Dems can easily deflect Lieberman's whining. They stuck with him when he was ousted from the party by the Democrats in his own state, and he repaid the party by moving further away from them. The fact that they offered him an option and he refused it makes the choice very easy for them.

If they dont ditch him, it will make Reid look pathetic (IMHO, he already looks pretty pathetic, but I think he'll use this opportunity to show a tiny fraction of a spine).

Lieberman is gone.

Posted by: TG Chicago on November 7, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Those who live by the sword die by the sword. If the Repubs had somehow one big, Lieberman would be sitting pretty right now. But only bad things can happen to Benedict Arnolds. He's made his bed. No mercy.

Posted by: Fred S. on November 7, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

One question: Did Lieberman campaign for any Democrats this year?

If he only campaigned for Republicans and no Democrats, then that pretty much tells the story, doesnt it?

Posted by: TG Chicago on November 7, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Joe is welcome to switch parties at any time.

Then again, I think President Obama ought to nominate him as the ambassador to Iraq. It's only fitting: beLierman was all gung-ho on getting us in there, so he shouldn't have a problem representing us there. It's also sweet to think about him driving around Baghdad on a Saturday morning, stopping and asking people for directions to a synagogue....

Posted by: FARfetched on November 7, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman doesn't deserve to keep the chairmanship of Homeland Security on the merits, all talk of leverage and loyalty aside.

I can't think of a single accomplishment or success from his tenure over the last couple of years. I mean, he was ostensibly in charge of Executive Branch oversight, so you'd think he'd have one or two newsworthy hearings, or at minimum a strongly worded letter or two complaining about nonresponsive subpoenas for testimony. But, no.

Posted by: joel on November 7, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

This is also yet another big example of why Reid should be ousted as majority leader--he's such a wuss it's ridiculous. Does he not realize what just happened on Tuesday? Does he need a "best of" video compilation of everything Lieberman said about Obama during the campaign? Does he not realize that Lieberman actually CAMPAIGNED FOR OTHER REPUBLICANS? WTF?
My response to Joe--Don't like the extremely generous deal that you in no way deserve? Fine, GET OUT! And don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, because I don't want ass prints on my good door!
This is 100% better treatment than he would get if he were a Republican pulling the same stunt. It looks like he'll discover that soon enough.
Hopefully Connecticut finds him "unacceptable" as well in two years.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 7, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin T. Keith:

I see the point you're making, and it's valid to some extent.

However, I dont see Lieberman being flexible about votes.

He's unlikely to start voting with Republicans on issues like abortion or whatever. I dont think he's going to suddenly flip on those kinds of issues.

And he's certainly not going to vote for removing troops from Iraq or doing any of the other things that he's sided with the GOP on for the past several years.

I mean, even in the situation you outline, do you really see Lieberman voting for cloture if the Republicans try to filibuster a vote to get the troops out of Iraq?

That would be an incredible reversal. I dont see it happening. Thus, I dont see the value of Lieberman in the Democratic caucus.

Posted by: TG Chicago on November 7, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for a Democratic majority leader

Posted by: klyde on November 7, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Under the Senate's rules of procedure, 1 is a big number of unhappy Senators. If I remember correctly, any one Senator can put a secret hold on any piece of legislation. An unhappy Lieberman has many ways of making life difficult for his colleagues.

Posted by: Fred Zimmerman on November 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

My recurring nighmare has been Lieberman providing the 60th vote. Lieberman has had way too much power in the past two years because he gave the Dems control with 51 votes. What's unacceptable is a continuation of that blackmail.

Actually it's Reid who has to go, and the sooner the better. Clinton should be majority leader. Lieberman should be left to twist in the wind. He won't vote against a Rethug fillibuster no matter what he promises, and chances are there are two votes in Maine that can be counted on for most issues.

Posted by: rich on November 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Gee Joe, imagine having to accept the consequences of your actions. What a concept.

Posted by: Jay on November 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sure - give him a chairmanship. His own special little committee with no other members, no staff, no budget, no travel, no authority to hold hearings and a portfolio consisting of oversight of efflua from sewage treatment plants in the Marshall Islands.

See Joe - you're still a Chairman.

Posted by: Kathy on November 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Did Lieberman campaign for any Democrats this year?

Not that I know of, but even if he did, the fact that he campaigned for Republicans in congressional races, like Norm Coleman, disqualifies him from chairing his little Homeland Security fiefdom. And if I were Reid, I'd have already kicked him out of the caucus.
Again, imagine if it were a sitting Republican Senator campaigning for Obama and other Democrats.

Reid and Obama are being extremely generous, and this jerk is acting like he calls the shots.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 7, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman's only redress is to go around Reid and petition the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to keep his seat.

Sign a petititon telling that committee that it's way past time to give Joe the heave-ho at


Posted by: 3reddogs on November 7, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

If I remember correctly, any one Senator can put a secret hold on any piece of legislation.

One of the Repub senators from Oklahoma does that all the time anyway, and as others have mentioned, there will be 60 votes with moderate Republicans on various issues--as well as conservative Democrats who don't always vote with the party. This 60 vote majority never meant much to me.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 7, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Tell him he gets to stay and keep his chairmanship and seniority.

Then tell him the first time he votes Republican or starts mouthing their talking points, he'll be working the graveyard shift at IHOP.

And follow through.

Posted by: Daryl on November 7, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

What an utter, unmitigated ASSHOLE. Kick. Him. Out. And good riddance to bad rubbish.

Posted by: Vertigo on November 7, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

my own personal preference would be to offer him sec of state and then demand his resignation two days later

Posted by: snidely on November 7, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

The solution is so obvious: Obama should offer Loserman a senior administration position. A real Dem will take his Senate seat; Obama looks magnanimous; and Joe gets canned the minute he (inevitably) goes off script.

And continuing the "echoes of "West Wing" parallels, the Obama team should announce that Lieberman has accepted even before he is asked, and effusively praise his patriotism, bipartisanship and willingness to put country before personal interest.


Posted by: Blue Meme on November 7, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

All we need to pass bills is a simple majority. The only reason we ever needed 60 was because we had a minority who threatened filibuster on every bill. They are unlikely to do this as regularly as in the past because:

1) They lost and they know the people aren't behind them on this;
2) They know that we can likely get cloture with moderate Republicans (especially with the bully pulpit of the Presidency behind us).

Lieberman will vote with the dems if he wants to keep his seat, since his constituents are on to him. So there is little to no blowback for stripping him of his Chairmanship.

He's just being the a-hole that he is. It's all a game of bluff and I'm sure Reid will take care of it exactly the way Obama wants him to.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on November 7, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Wait: This is a guy who ran in the DEM primary and LOST, fair and square. So he bolted, ran anyway and won. Fine. Then he endorses McCain, shows up in every Republican campaign video like some Zelig, trashes the DEM nominee in primetime -- and he thinks the DEM party owes him something?

Posted by: Sophie in VA on November 7, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I actually think that Harry Reid has been a decent majority leader with a razor thin majority. now, however, we need a wartime consigliere. Bring on Hillary.

oh, and Lieberman? well sheesh, ah do believe it is time to dance with the one that brung ya. enjoy your time in the minority, Joe, I am certain the GOP will give you a plum.
every bill that Joe doesn't like should include some nice pork for Connecticut. Give Lamont something to hit him with.

Posted by: northzax on November 7, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Call your Democratic Senator RIGHT NOW. Tell them that you want Lieberman stripped of his chairmanship. I called Senator Wyden's office a few minutes ago and they seemed receptive. Don't (just) get mad, do something about it.

Posted by: Stacy6 on November 7, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ambassador to Israel.

Enormously prestigious, of policy importance to Lieberman, and Obama and Lieberman's position on Israel probably not much different.

That gets him out of the Senate and puts a Democrat in to replace. That should satisfy everyone.

Unless Democrats want blood instead of our best chance to govern effectively. If it's to be blood, by all means humiliate a sitting US Senator. Just don't be surprised if it turns out to have been a bad idea.

Posted by: mere mortal on November 7, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Reid's job is to pass bills, and to do that he needs votes, probably 60 on the important stuff. Everything else is secondary. Reid needs to do whatever gives him the greatest chance of enacting a progressive agenda.

Punishing Joe might feel good but it would be a foolish thing to do if it ends up hurting our chances of doing right by the american people.

If Joe is willing vote against democratic bills because of how reid treats him, it's our loss. now this is a morally indefensible thing to do, and it would prove his lack of worth if he actually did it. but reid is correct to worry that it could happen.

Posted by: yorkist on November 7, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK
If Joe is willing vote against democratic bills because of how reid treats him, it's our loss.

Maybe you've missed the last few years, but Joe the Republican only pretends to be an "Independent Democrat" because that status provides a platform that gives him more media attention in campaigning against Democratic policies and for Republican policies and candidates.

Keeping him in the caucus is handing him another clip of ammunition to keep shooting at us.

If he was interested in supporting Democratic policy preferences or candidates, would he have spoke at the Republican convention, campaigned for John McCain and downticket Republicans? No, he wouldn't have. He has chosen to be a Republican, and a rather partisan one at that, but wants the to be treated as a Democrat so he can be a more effective Republican.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 7, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Look, Harry is doing the best thing possible. Y'all keep talking about The Godfather - in the book there's a scene where Vito Corleone faces down a mad dog killer. Finally he throws up his hands and says, "Can no one reason with this man?" At that point, the mad dog knows he's toast.

The threat is implicit: we'll treat you better than you deserve, but you do what we want. If Jowls whines about it, he loses face in public. Even Hannity's crowd will mock him. TV cameras go off, speech opportunities dry up, reporters don't return his calls. At that point, Joe is twisting in the wind for 6 years - or he's playing nice and waiting for that shoe to drop if he gets out of line.

Screw him. He's got the rope, he's tied the rope, he's standing on the chair, but Harry ain't gonna push him. He gets off the chair quietly or he tips the chair over. Which do you think is more likely?

Posted by: ignoreland on November 7, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Huh - just read the Politico piece. Imagine Justified Joe leading a Veterans Affairs committee meeting on, say, the treatment of wounded vets of the Iraq War. Or mental health issues.

Think it might sink in what a tool he was/is?

Posted by: ignoreland on November 7, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

If we can't get the ladies from Maine to play ball, Lieberman is irrelevant.

Let them block everything. They will find out that there is a difference between filibustering with a Republican in the White House and a Democrat in the White House.

Posted by: flyerhawk on November 7, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Being a Democrat means something to me--it means I belong to an organization which stands for certain things, many of them liberal, and most of which I agree with. Joe Lieberman shouldn't be a member of my organization because he actively tried to hurt it.
They should have thrown this putz out of the party when he ran AGAINST THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE THE PEOPLE OF CONNECTICUT HAD CHOSEN two years ago.
F*ck him. Make him go away and shut up, not necessarily in that order.

Posted by: kathleen on November 7, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

The current Governor of Connecticut is a Republican. If Joe resigns his seat for whatever reason, the Governor designates a replacement to complete his term. Probably a Republican.
We could hope Chris Shays is the guy - he did, after all, get a whole bunch of votes to send him back to Congress just a couple days ago. And as Republicans go, I'll take him over some Democrats currently serving in Congress.
Lowell Weicker would be another possiblity, if the Gov doesn't really want to piss off his constituents. D00d has gravitas.
Ned Lamont seems highly unlikely, but not out of the question - he too got a whole bunch of votes.
It could also be another Republican few of us have ever heard of.

Posted by: kenga on November 7, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats ought to just cut that weaselly little putz loose and let him fend for himself with his Republican pals. What in the world are they bargaining with him for? He has nothing. If the Democrats have any self-respect at all (an open question) they would never let that little putz darken their doors again.

Hey Harry! He fucked you. That little loser of a putz bent you over a chair on national tv and had his way with you. If you don't give him the boot you're simply not a man.

Posted by: The Fool on November 7, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Did he turn his back on them or did they turn their backs on him.

Posted by: S. Knight on November 7, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Since when did republicans only need 51 votes in the senate to pass legislation and democrats are supposed to need 60? What gives?

What about that "nuclear option" Frist threatened until the "Group of 14" compromise? Wasn't Leiberman part of the "Group of 14"? I say to cave because of the threat of a filibuster. Let them filibuster and be shown for the do nothings they are.

Posted by: Frank Jones on November 7, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

He want's to be a Democrate when it is too his benefit. I think he thought there was no way Obama would win so he backed who he thought would be the winner. It looks more and more like he just does what is best for him and doesn't really have loyalty. Bye Bye Joe.

Posted by: eugenevoter on November 7, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, you let Lieberman stay in the Democratic caucus. I don't like him -- too moralistic, too jingoistic -- but he votes liberal on most issues and he DID give the Dems outright control of the Senate the past couple of years, no? Why push him into the Republican arms just for spite?

Posted by: jammmick on November 7, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Remove his chairs. All of them. What's he gonna do? Go be a Republican? Let him. He's already one in all but name - might as well let Ned Lamont win in 2012.

Posted by: Kick Joe Out! on November 7, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial cartoon:


Pretty much says it all.

Posted by: jimjimjim on November 7, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Lieberman, the person who revived the memory and meaning of the word "Quisling". Good old Joe who, had he been around in the 1930s would have started a group entitled Jews for Hitler. We all owe him a debt since he has established a new low in national politics. The man is grotesque and I do look forward to 2010 when the citizens of Connecticut will give him a small measure of what he truly deserves: obscurity.

Posted by: Eric Lowin on November 7, 2008 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is it Joe Lieberman or Judas Lieberman?

Posted by: Michael on November 7, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

welcome to the Democratic Socialist Republic The country formerly known as the U.S.A. Freedom of speach? What's that? That's ok the honeymoon will be over soon enough and all you'll be left with is the giant sucking sound of more tax dollars coming out of your check. Tax the rich and give back to the middle class LOL'S!! Can't believe you fell for that ; )

Posted by: Dom on November 7, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

WOW! There is a lot of penned up hostility in this blog. It's no wonder congress has a 9% approval rating if this is common thinking. There are huge issues that need to be addressed for the survival of our country and all I read here are Godfather references and who should sleep with the fishes. Who are these people!

Lieberman is a Democrat not Republican and represents his electorate who voted him over someone else that they liked less. It should be they that vote him out if they can find someone more qualified. He cares deeply about his country and has an opinion on what's best for its future and stands on his principals. That's called integrity. Yes elections matter. If congress and the people that vote them in keep thinking this way their approval rating will NEVER improve.

He wrote the homeland security bill. He is qualified. He should retain his seat until he is voted out. It is Harry Reid that should be replaced with someone that could score higher than 9%.

Posted by: George on November 7, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I truly wish the people of Conn would get off their asses and recall this turd. Aside from this probably not happening, Se. Reid should give him an office in the basement and take away his stapler!

Posted by: Jim on November 7, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Senator Reid,
I'd rather you make a deal with any Republican for an extra vote, than a backstabbing Joe Lieberman. Please kick him to the curb. You will sleep better at night.

Posted by: Jon Leslie on November 8, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Obama was one of the few Dems that supported Traitor Joe when he ran against Ned Lamont because of his personal fondness for DINO Joe.

Kick Joe's arse to the curb.

Posted by: ed on November 8, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

Two words -- Burn Notice.
Make him the next Joe the Plumber -- unclogging the Senate toilets.

Posted by: Mike G on November 8, 2008 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

"He wrote the homeland security bill. He is qualified".
No, George.
That is part of WHY he's unqualified.

Posted by: HairlessMonkeyDK on November 8, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK



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