Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 18, 2008

NO 'PUNISHMENT' WHATSOEVER.... Following up on the last item, at first blush, it seems Senate Democrats chose a minor and inconsequential punishment for Joe Lieberman, instead of a credible and reasonable one. But a closer look suggests Lieberman literally wasn't "punished" at all.

Going into today, Lieberman chaired the Homeland Security Committee, and chaired subcommittees on the Environment and Public Works Committee and Armed Services Committee. Democrats decided to strip Lieberman of his EPW subcommittee chairmanship.

Sounds like a slap on the wrist, right? As it happens, it wasn't even that -- Lieberman told reporters this afternoon that the caucus changed the rules this morning so that no member can be chair a committee and two subcommittees at the same time. Lieberman keeps the two gavels he wanted, and loses the one he didn't.

A few months ago, it seemed Lieberman's role in the caucus was in jeopardy. After Lieberman dictated what he wanted, Senate Democrats decided not to "punish" him for his betrayals in any way.

I'm trying to get additional information about which Dems voted which way, but for now, the AP reports that Sens. Leahy (Vt.), Sanders (Vt.), and Merkeley (Ore.) spoke up against Lieberman during the closed-door meeting. Sens. Reid (Nev.), Durbin (Ill.), and Kerry (Mass.) were among Lieberman's vocal supporters.

Kevin hit the note that's been bugging me.

I guess they really showed him, didn't they? No Democrat will ever dare to support a Republican candidate for president, speak at the Republican national convention in prime time, and bad mouth the Democratic Party's candidate ever again.

If we put everything else aside, the precedent here really is startling. As I reported last week, in 1964, Rep. John Bell Williams (D) of Mississippi and Rep. Albert Watson (D) of South Carolina both endorsed Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, and both were punished by losing their seniority. Four years later, Rep. John Rarick (D) of Louisiana endorsed George Wallace's presidential campaign, and the party stripped him of his committee seniority, too.

Now, Lieberman endorsed McCain, spoke at the GOP convention, helped down-ballot Republicans, and smeared the Democratic nominee at every available opportunity, and the caucus decided to let him off the hook entirely.

Steve Benen 2:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (104)

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Comments

And you damn sure know that the GOP would have cut his throat if he was a Republican and did the same thing. And the right-winger base, who would have been calling for his head, would have been listened to rather than intentionally dissed.

Posted by: Justin on November 18, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Wussiness percolates from the top.

Obama's kumbaya is going to be very painful for the next four years.

Carter redux.

Posted by: gregor on November 18, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

What possible advantage does this provide the Democrats? Looking magnanimous? Holding the seat? I simply cannot figure this out.
I'll tell you one thing - it looks weak. And if you show weakness in front of the cornered shrew that is the modern GOP, they'll bite your fucking head off. Way to go, Senate.

Dumbasses...

Posted by: Cazart on November 18, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

It is probably pointless with these wimps but what would the course of action be to punish Sen. Reid.

Seriously, no wonder these guys approval numbers are worse than Bush, they fail even when they don't have to.

Posted by: Aaron on November 18, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder Dems are considered soft on defense.

Posted by: coral on November 18, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm trying to get additional information about which Dems voted which way

I'd like to suggest a name for the 42: The Beanbag Coalition, because they have put the lie to the adage "Politics ain't beanbag."

Posted by: scott_m on November 18, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

You who denounce the handling of Lieberman by Democrats need to be patient. Obama has a plan and that plan includes all of us. Joe Lieberman and the Democrats do not hold all of the power. It is time all of us exert our own power to decide for ourselves how to make this nation and the rest of the world a place that is friendly to all of us. What appears to be giving in to power threats from the right and weakness from the left is a call to arms to the rest of us: this is our country and it is time we took responsibility for its care and feeding. The sooner we stop depending on the corporations, government and religion to solve our problems, the sooner we will reach solutions that benefit all of us.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on November 18, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Reid knows his Shakespeare. I recommend Julius Caesar.

The worst part is the disdain with which they speak of the 'bloggers' and the 'netroots.'

Harry Reid's opponent, primary or general, regardless of party, will be getting my donations instead of the DSCC.

Spiness cad.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I don't like Lieberman at all. And I would have liked to see someone else take the gavel simply because the DHS is a big mess and really needs effective oversight, and Lieberman hasn't been doing a damn thing.

But I don't think Lieberman's antics are going to cause other Dems to start supporting Republican candidates, at a time when there's a progressive wave in the country, big Dem majorities in both houses, and a massively popular incoming Dem president. The biggest punishment is that Lieberman just doesn't matter any more now the
knife-edge Senate of 2001-2002 and 2006-2007 is
history.

Hit him where it really hurts: stop talking about
him.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on November 18, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

So the democrats were spineless wimps for the past 8 years, and people are surprised that it hasn't changed?

Posted by: Reverend J on November 18, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Are Senate Dems the worst people in the world?

Holy Joe said that the country might not even *survive* Obama’s election. And the Dems let him get everything he wants. To me, this shows even more clearly that the Senate Dems care first and foremost about “getting along’ and being liked. They never stood up as the minority power, never threatened a filibuster; they never rammed things through once they took over and never even brought things to a vote if a Republican even mentioned “filibuster.” The Senate Dems are the ones who let it get to the point where the conventional wisdom is that you need 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate.

In short, Senate Dems don’t give a fuck about America or Americans, they just want everything to be nice and civil in their personal lives.

Posted by: Gore/Feingold '16 on November 18, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin hit the note that's been bugging me.

That was well put. And it says a lot that the Democrats' fecklessness disgusted even the notoriously moderate and even-handed Kevin Drum.

Posted by: Gregory on November 18, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hit him where it really hurts: stop talking about him. Posted by: Richard Cownie

The problem is that JoeLie's ego is so fucking huge that he simply can't go away even if people stop talking about him. Indeed, the minute people stop talking about him is precisely when he will use the chair we left him in to ensure that he makes news. And what MSM wouldn't love the headline "Obama Loses Control of Dem Congress; Investigated by Own Homeland Security Committee"?

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 18, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

What. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. These. People?

Posted by: Stefan on November 18, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's really time to let this one go. I'm not saying forget it, but it's really time to let it go.

Posted by: I'm so tired of hearing about Lieberman on November 18, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Lieberman, the man who banked everything on a McCain victory - and won.

Posted by: Memekiller on November 18, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I really can't believe that you or anyone is surprised by this. The Dem leadership (and Democrats in general) have defined themselves over and over again as being predictably unreliable. When was the last time they ever actually stood for something. Or stood up against anything? Just look at all of the things they have let Bush get away with by supporting those very things. Lieberman is the epitome of this. He has a committee chair that he NEVER USES to do the things the committee exists for. Gotta keep him around...that man is a genius.

Posted by: mikem on November 18, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Big deal, let's move on.
Who knows what was said in private.

I actually thought the secret ballot was going to work against Lieberman and people were saying this or that because they knew their vote would never be known. Their are too many votes to not think that their was a backroom deal.

Posted by: ScottW on November 18, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

so, when lieberman is up for re-election, will he run as dem in the primary? it looks like he won't win in the general anyway (if recent polls are accurate reflection) but it will be interesting to see if he considers himself a democrat again.

Posted by: FLDem on November 18, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Really just a sad day for America.

Posted by: Northern Observer on November 18, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Dump Reid Now!

Time to get a movement going. Anyone? Anyone?

Posted by: Bob M on November 18, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Four years later, Rep. John Rarick (D) of Louisiana endorsed George Wallace's presidential campaign, and the party stripped him of his committee seniority, too.

Here's to hoping a zombie Representative McCormack shows up and eats Harry Reid's brain.

Of course, he'll be sorely disappointed that there's not backbone for desert.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

There's a reason the Congress has such low approval ratings. They do not care about the constituents. They do not care what they think. It's all about them. How do we change this?

Posted by: todd on November 18, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the caucus has devised a brilliant plan to have him support the Republican in 2012 as a way to ensure Obama's re-election. When looking for a silver lining, that's all I can come up with.

Posted by: SBG on November 18, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I've had a black thought...

Maybe the Dems are such pathetic wimps they shouldn't be trusted with the defense of the country.

Makes me sick to write it...

Posted by: jvoe on November 18, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK


"Hit him where it really hurts: stop talking about him."

As has been more or less said already, by rewarding Lieberman for campaigning against the Democratic Party in the election, the Senate Democrats have handed the GOP an important oversight commitee with an awful lot of power.

That's the whole deal right there. Joe Lieberman has been given free rein to keep himself famous by becoming the new Ken Starr. The guy who spent the last two years shielding George Bush from investigation can now show his contempt for Barack Obama by launching one high-profile investigation after another into anything the GOP minority ask him to. And the Dems in the Senate can do nothing about it, he's their guy.

Really, EPIC FAIL.

Posted by: Tony J on November 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

If we can't hold one of our own accountable, what right do we have to try to hold the Republicans accountable?

The Democrats are all there is to stand against the wash of Republican corruption and the tide of their Permanent Republican Majority dream. We can't do it with weak backs and limp convictions.

From my point of view, Reid is far worse sell-out than Leiberman. Just whose side is HE on?

Posted by: Zli on November 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats have no spines - individually or collectively. They will spend the next four years on the defensive, trying not to be labeled "soft" on anything by the Republicans. And then they will be voted out and we will be back to Republican rule and a continued decline of a once-great nation.

We need a credible third party.

Posted by: ghillie on November 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Look, everybody needs to chill on this. Yeah, Holy Joe deserves a good flogging, but the dude is an elected senator and the Dems are going to need every hand on deck to pass the Obama agenda. Does anyone doubt he's on a leash so short it doesn't reach the sidewalk?
Yeah, Reid's passivity is grating, but it's Obama who's calling the shots now. If the prez-elect thinks we're better off with Joe pissing inside the tent rather than outside it ... well, how has underestimating Obama's game plan worked so far?

Posted by: beejeez on November 18, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic pols are suffering from battered wife syndrome or possibly Stockholm syndrome. They've been used and abuse by the conservatives for so long they have forgotten what Democrats stand for don't know what to do with a majority.

Posted by: Carol on November 18, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck You, America. We get to say if Joe stays or goes, not you. We own congress, didn't you know that?

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/18/12283/690/300/662802

Posted by: AIPAC on November 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Given that Durbin was literally *weeping* on the floor of the Senate, and begging forgiveness from the Republican majority for speaking out against US torture policy, I'm not too surprised to see him on the list of the gutless leaders.

Posted by: ibc on November 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

No mountain is low enough, we will climb it. No river is shallow enough, we will cross it.

Posted by: Harry Reid on November 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I've been following this since Joe lost the primary to Ned Lamont. I'm a small contributor to the Democratic Party, and have been for 50 years.
No more. I had already sent Jeff Merkely money for his campaign and will send more as I can. He spoke against Lieberman.
Anyone else who solicits (and I get a lot) will get a note in the already stamped return envelope advising them to get their money from Joe Lieberman.
I also noticed that although Clinton and Kerry were happy to get my money as Presidential candidates, they couldn't be bothered with my input on this matter because I was not a resident of their various states.
Suits me.

Posted by: Joe on November 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been following this since Joe lost the primary to Ned Lamont. I'm a small contributor to the Democratic Party, and have been for 50 years.
No more. I had already sent Jeff Merkely money for his campaign and will send more as I can. He spoke against Lieberman.
Anyone else who solicits (and I get a lot) will get a note in the already stamped return envelope advising them to get their money from Joe Lieberman.
I also noticed that although Clinton and Kerry were happy to get my money as Presidential candidates, they couldn't be bothered with my input on this matter because I was not a resident of their various states.
Suits me.

Posted by: Joe on November 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Get over it. It's punishment enough that McCain lost and he's stuck in the Senate when he expected to move up in the world. Now we all know what a snake he is, keep an eye on him. Stripping him of chairmanships is petty and if you're serious about governing, stupid.

Posted by: Chica on November 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

...can now show his contempt for Barack Obama by launching one high-profile investigation after another... -Tony J

And the media will love it. I can't wait for the headlines!

Bipartisan Investigation Bogs Down Obama Administration

Obama Testifies Before Bipartisan Investigation of His Office

Bipartisans Ballyhoo Biden's Blunders

Fellow Democrat Accuses Obama of Mishandling Iraq Withdrawal; Launches Investigation

Troops Stay in Iraq Pending Investigation, Obama Sad Face

Oh, the media will just love their old buddy Joe Lieberman again.

But hey, it's no biggie. We're just whiners who need to chill out because Joe can't hurt Obama or stop progressive policy, right? That's what I've been told all day, after all.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The important thing is that we continue to differentiate ourselves from Republicans by despising our base, and mocking our most enthusiastic and ardent supporters.

Posted by: Harry Reid on November 18, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I hate Joe. I hate global warming more. The MSM would spend weeks on Joe, now the story is over. Done. Smart politics by a guy that has beaten everyone easily.

Joe is going nowhere. Now he can run again as a dem in CT if he is a good boy. This is chess not checkers.

I hate joe as much as the next guy, but until I see a real Obama fuck up, i will trust the strategy they employ.

orange

Posted by: eric on November 18, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. John Bell Williams (D) of Mississippi and Rep. Albert Watson (D) of South Carolina both endorsed Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, and both were punished by losing their seniority. Four years later, Rep. John Rarick (D) of Louisiana endorsed George Wallace's presidential campaign, and the party stripped him of his committee seniority, too.

What's the difference between Rep. John Bell Williams, Rep. Albert Watson, Rep. John Rarick, and Sen. Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: John on November 18, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Get over it. It's punishment enough that McCain lost and he's stuck in the Senate when he expected to move up in the world....

Umm. You do know everyone's talking about Joe Liberman, right? Not McCain?

:)

Posted by: ibc on November 18, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Stripping him of chairmanships is petty and if you're serious about governing, stupid. -Chica

That's funny. I thought stupid was not knowing what Lieberman could do with that chairmanship, but comment as if you did anyway.

Who knew?

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know where Obama really was on this.
If he did not get thru to the Senate the idea that Lieber had to go then shame on him. 4 and out.
If he did get that out, they have basically said to him f-you. 4 and out.
We all were amazed that the Dems didn't self destruct during the primary and finals and actually won. I guess it was just a matter of time. I just didn't think it would start so soon.

Posted by: Wayne on November 18, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ghillie – We have a credible third party.

What we need is for people to stop being "enablers," like spouses of an alcoholic, of Democrats.

====

St. John... "secret plan"! Hah, how gullible you are.

I heard Nixon has a secret plan to end the war.

Did the belly button upon which you meditate hear that, too?

====

Don't you love Harry "The Weasel" Reid?

First it's "I'm ready to boot him."

Then it's "Let's let the caucus decide."

Finally it's "I'll lobby for him in the caucus."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 18, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully somebody has a long post about this in the works, but can anyone actually explain to me WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?

What are Senate Democrats thinking? I'd really like to know. There has to be some logic behind this. I'm not saying it's good logic, but I really, REALLY want to know why 40+ Democratic Senators just voted to keep this asshole in charge of important Senate work.

Are they all just THAT stupid? If so, that is truly a frightening thought.

Not that this wasn't expected, but I'm just stunned that the Democratic Senate doesn't see Joe Lieberman as a problem.

I just don't get it.

Posted by: Will on November 18, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

beejeez
Sorry I don't agree. There are some who don't belong in the tent. This crap of keeping him in because he may help the Dem vote is wrong. At some point you have to get rid of him and just deal with the consequenses. It should have happend a long time ago.

Posted by: Wayne on November 18, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

What's the difference between Rep. John Bell Williams, Rep. Albert Watson, Rep. John Rarick, and Sen. Joe Lieberman? -John

Williams and Watson are dead. Lieberman is Jewish. They were held accountable. They were congressmen, not senators. Harry Reid is a failure compared to Representative McCormack. Williams, Watson, and Rarick were Southern Democrats. None of them look like that guy from ALF.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"I personally believe that much of what goes on in America today is governed by wealth and power. ... But one thing they do not control, wealth and power does not control the Internet. Through the Internet, regular ordinary people have a voice. That's why I go out of my way to communicate any way that I can on the Internet and I think the blogs are a tremendously important way for the American public to find out what's really going on." - Senator Harry Reid

He's up for reelection in 2010. I hope you get all that internet support, Harry. I really do.

Posted by: ChrisS on November 18, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Get over it. It's punishment enough that McCain lost and he's stuck in the Senate when he expected to move up in the world...."

Umm. You do know everyone's talking about Joe Liberman, right? Not McCain?
----------
Pretty sure what Chica meant is that if McCain had won, Lieberman expected a promotion to the cabinet, and now he's stuck.

I don't think it matters -- Dems are spineless as always, and have proved once again how easily they are rolled. But I thought I'd point out that while I disagree with Chica's comment (and tone), it was coherent :)

Posted by: ResumeMan on November 18, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Obama thinks the Republicans will admire him for his fairness and bipartisanship. They won’t. They will despise him for his perceived weakness.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on November 18, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

You can not be considered a centrist unless you hate hippies. If Obama is to succeed, he must make clear that he hates hippies, every single day. Keeping Lieberman is a good start.

Posted by: David Broder on November 18, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Obama will have to plan on making change all by himself.

WHY is it is so damned important to make sure the Democrats have that one extra vote of Leibermans?

I would rather do without Joe's vote and keep the faith of my party, than keep his vote and lose my integrity.

But I guess Reid doesn't feel that way.

Posted by: Zli on November 18, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I just don't even understand why Lieberman has this hypnotic sway over the Senate. Really, who cares about him? What has he done? Who is his base? From what I can tell, the Senate wants him around just because he's friends with everyone else. Sometimes the Senate seems more like a country club than a governing body.

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on November 18, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

it is about controlling the news cycle. Obama now has strong global warming statement, strong "gotta fix the economy." IF he is going to move the country back toward sanity this is a price we may have to pay. In tryth, I would have kicked Joe's a$$ to the curb, but I think Joe will take the lesson given to Hillary and McCain -- both far more popular that Joe ever was -- and not mess with Obama head on.

Joe cannot win CT again as an independent if he pissess Obama off. SO, unless he wants to retire, Joe will play nice. And you can Senate retirees on one hand -- those guys take that job to the grave! (or in one case, to the white house).

This is a smart long term decision that betters the chances of substantive change.

orange

Posted by: eric on November 18, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman has his chair because of one person - Obama. One word from the President-elect and he would have been toast.

Obviously there is nothing more important to Joe Lieberman, than his trappings of power. I'm sure that the soon-to-be President Obama (that felt good) will hold some powerful sway over this self-serving narcissist, after all, he saved his bony little ass from sitting in the loge seats with the Republicans.

I don't know that I would have done it but I wanted him to be president because I believe he's smarter than me.

So far he's yet to disprove my theory, and this may be a well played opening move.

Posted by: mamased on November 18, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

here i hoped that part of hiring Rahmbo was so he could send JoeLie a dead fish!

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 18, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand the reasoning behind this vote.

Don't they know that he will NOT VOTE WITH THEM if/when the possibility of a filibuster arises? He has said that the filibuster will be the most important way to keep the dems in check...

On the other hand, do they somehow have a 'secret weapon' against ol'Joe? Like 'If you screw up ONCE, we will terminate you' (Yeah, right...)

Do they maybe have a secret resignation letter that he signed but not dated, to be used if he votes 'against' something they want him to vote 'for'?

Posted by: fedup on November 18, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I regret the circumstances favored joe the jerk keeping all his goodies.

If he loses his chairmanship, he bolts immediately. This doesn't affect the next congress. It affects this one.

With joe moving to the GOP, the Senate reverts to 50-50. Which means McConnell (R-Deliverance Country) would demand the entire Senate be restructured with co-chairs on every committee, subcommittee, etc.

This leads to a complete freeze of Senate business while the economy collapses around us.

I know, the GOPers in the Senate sould gum up any legitimate rescue plan with filibusters, but a sudden lame duck restructuring would be sold not as obstructionism, but "fairness."

Why do you think the GOP held off bouncing Stevens from the caucus? Had they done that, the Dems could've bounced Lieberman and kept a 50-49 plurality. The GOP needs the felon "just in case."

Besides, Lieberman won't be able to use his gavel to investigate the White House -- he would still need the support of committee members to issue subpoenas, etc. Committees in the next Congress will have several more Dems than Republicans (reflecting increased majorities), so even if Joe & the Rethugs want to make mischief, they'll still be a vote or two short without actual Dem support.

Posted by: UncaPaul on November 18, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, know that I am a far left progressive. I do not consider the labels pacifist and socialist to be insulting. I would personally push Lieberman under the bus. I mean a real bus. I will also add that I have was a reluctant Obama supporter because I thought he was a centrist.

Having said that, let's not miss the big picture. Obama went from centrist to adopting Edwards' policies and maybe moving to the left of Edwards 2007. Obama has overwhelming majorities in both houses and a philosophical mandate from the electorate to make big changes as soon as possible.

Obama is the 800 pound gorilla in Washington. Lieberman is a bannana.

Obama is focused and organized and ready to steamroll DC. Not just Lieberman, but all of DC is following Obama - including the Clintons for heaven's sake. Even the Republican oppnents are reduced to reacting to Obama. There is no Newt Gingrich and his contract with America.

What important, controversial Obama initiative can Lieberman stop from his chairmanship? Remember that the new committee compositions will no longer be 50/50 plus one Democrat. So Lieberman will not even be able to swing votes on his own committee.

Given that we are likely to pick up at least two more senate seats, I doubt that Lieberman will rarely be the swing vote for fillibuster. I suspect that there will always be 2-4 Republican votes available that can be picked off as needed.

One final thing. Everyone seems to think of Obama as "an innocent abroad". Obama is the reigning champ of Chicago and Illinois politics. he knows what the heck he is doing.

So, Joe-mentum Lieberman will be the irritating in-law that shows up for Thanksgving. So what?


Posted by: Catfish on November 18, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is Emanuel's first accomplishment as Obama's CoS.

Posted by: Brojo on November 18, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, let's all forget about Lieberman and move on the next Democratic capitulation. There are lots of issues to cave in on. What's first on the agenda?

Posted by: Outis on November 18, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad there's so much outrage here. It reminds me of how well our righteous indignation has served us on other issues. If our threats to withhold money and support are as influential as they were in the aftermath of Obama's flip-flop on the FISA bill...oh, wait.

Posted by: Wade on November 18, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing to do is assume that the President elect knows what he is doing with this strategy!

Posted by: captain dan on November 18, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

There are two principles here that may be in effect. The first principle is "keep your friends close and your enemies closer". That way, you have them in sight at all times. Obama and the Senate Dems may have this in mind.

Also, there is a second principle which could be described as a sort of political judo move; When an enemy pushes at you, he expects you to push back. Yielding instead--if done right--can surprise and unbalance the enemy, rendering him vulnurable to you. The wrongdoer (in this case, Lieberman) expects the pushback of punishment which, when received, will "justify" his bitterness and misbehavior towards those meting out said punishment. All of the sudden, this attitude is denied its prime fuel--much like a net-troll who isn't "fed" by outraged responses, or like Iran in a previous post here, who doesn't know how to take *yes* for an answer.

This, naturally, is just my own personal suspicions, but that's my take on all this right now. I can't say I'm 100% pleased with the way Lieberman got off with light punishment, but let's please remember that Obama hasn't even taken office yet. Micro-analyzing him every time he so much as sneezes right now is counterproductive. We need to wait until he has been in office for a while, and we can actually see the forest instead of merely the trees.

Posted by: brainchild on November 18, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

UncaPaul,

I think there are several things wrong with your analysis, one of the most glaring being that Obama resigned on Saturday, so a 50/50 situation in the Senate is now currently impossible.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know if you saw the Dean interview on HuffPost, where he said "This is what Obama wanted." My condolences to the wounded, but this reminds me of Fred Astaire's old partner Hermes Pan on Ginger Rogers: "I thought you knew!"

I did my grieving last March, when it was apparent Obama was going to get the nomination. The best writing on him has been by Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker in Feb. 07 and again in the famous "terrorist" issue this summer. Obama's no Clinton, but he's not a Progressive either. He's an intelligent, deliberate politician who sets his goals years in advance and then works steadily toward them. That's how he won election against incredible obstacles.

He has the House; he wants a Senate that's as close to filibuster-proof as possible. Look for him to keep Lieberman on a short leash, to reward him for loyalty and isolate him and give him grief on his pet issues if he acts up. Look for him also to keep the overall vision and landscape in mind when making decisions. You won't find many kneejerks here. Two years probably won't be enough time to judge him; two weeks certainly isn't.

And if you think I'm toadying, please see above. I wasn't much of a supporter until this summer, but this is who the caucuses and primaries chose, and I don't have to say he's better than any Republican alternative. Just like buying a house, a car or any other consumer good that insures your survival, you have to take the whole package.

Posted by: ericfree on November 18, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats act like pathetic losers even after they've won. Pathetic.

Posted by: ckelly on November 18, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats' penalizing of Lieberman reminds me of a Monty Python
"Spanish Inquisition" installment: the one where inquisitors
consign a heretic to -- gasp! -- the comfy chair.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on November 18, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Remember all the complaints that Obama wasn't tough enough to win when he didn't satisfy some peole's needs for Rove-style attacks on McCain/Palin at the height of the VP selection/convention bounce?

Hello, deja vu.

Republicans would like nothing more than an extended brouhaha over Joe Lieberman.

Obama and Reid have bigger fish to fry.

Haven't we had enough of this country being led by people who have a compulsive need to establish their masculinity at every turn?

If this move is a mistake--which it will prove to have been if Lieberman uses his chairmanship to undermine the administration or Senate Dems--it will have been a mistake in political calculation, not a lack of spine.

Posted by: doretta on November 18, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

doretta, i'd like to believe you and have your faith, but I'm struggling.

help me out by giving me just two examples of Harry Reid showing real political spine in action, not just words, on material issues, since he became Majority Leader.

because my view of the Lieberman issue is strongly colored by my recollection that this is something Reid has done again and again and again. i see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt this time.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 18, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

UncaPaul, also, Senate Dems could have made the committee chair-stripping start with the next Congress.

===

Ericfree, Obama is closer to Clinton, certainly, than a progressive. He's just a "cooler" panderer, so he hasn't been called out on it much let.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 18, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The best response to begin to rally our efforts into progressive organizations such as MoveOn.org and DFA (if Dean returns).

Posted by: Catfish on November 18, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

doretta@4:09 If this move is a mistake--which it will prove to have been if Lieberman uses his chairmanship to undermine the administration or Senate Dems--it will have been a mistake in political calculation, not a lack of spine.

When it comes to Demowussies, political miscalculation and spinelessness almost always go hand in hand.

Posted by: Monty on November 18, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

What's worse, the baleful malevolence of the Bush admin, or the spineless incompetence of Reid and Obama's love fest? What really pisses me off is that they've decided that, fresh on the heels of a victory that the impassioned left gave them, this vote was a slap in the face of those same impassioned individuals. Reid and Obama have basically said, "Hey, you worked your asses off to support us. You gave us this victory. Now, we're gonna spit on you in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation." We may not have anywhere else to go, but we can stay in in 2 years when they ask us to prevent a GOP landslide.

There's a reason that the GOP usually has a better ground game than the dems. They don't crap all over their supporters. Yeah, I know that a lot of far-right activists are mightily pissed that Bush didn't get Roe overturned in his time in office. But even still, even though it was clearly the wrong move, McCain still sucked up to the far right all through the campaign. Palin, Hagee, his whole lurch to the right was an effort to get the base behind him.

In 2010, remember: you don't have to vote in every race. If your representative is someone you support, but your senator is one of the spineless caucus (like, say, Chris Dodd or Harry Reid), you don't have to vote for the senator to (re)elect your representative or to vote on other issues. Compromise isn't a bad thing, but never taking a stand is.

Posted by: Diogenes on November 18, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Don't have time to read all the comments above, but I've been trying to point this out on other blogs. That vote of 42 to 13 doesn't equate. That equals 55 Senators. First of all, there aren't that many Democratic Senators period. Secondly, of the 51 in the Dem caucus (counting Lieberman and Sanders - independents) Obama has resigned his seat and Biden wasn't going to vote. And Lieberman couldn't have voted on this issue. So no more than 48 votes TOTAL could have been counted. So WHY 55?

Posted by: impeachcheneythenbush on November 18, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I didn't know that senators-elect were allowed a say. Were they allowed to vote?

At any rate, Oregon's new senator is Jeff Merkley. The AP (and by way of copying, Steve) has misspelled his last name. Which will probably happen a lot, at least in the beginning. So glad that I volunteered for Jeff, he's going to be a GOOD one!

But poop on the Dems for allowing LIEberman to keep his chairmanship. Watched the announcement from Reid on MSNBC and there was Joe in the background, smiling, almost smirking. Gag. Too bad CT voters can't recall him because it would surely happen.

Posted by: Hannah on November 18, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I believe you get to 55 votes because I think the outgoing and incoming Dem senators both got to vote (or perhaps just the incoming, which would still get you around 55 if Sanders was allowed to vote).

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 18, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Re 4:41 and 4:49, the five senators-elect must have been allowed to vote, but the total would have been 53 -> 55 total Dems less Obama and Biden, right?

Posted by: Hannah on November 18, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Is Begich there for orientation? He's still not officially senator-elect, but hopefully will be by later today!

Posted by: Hannah on November 18, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I keep hearing people talk about how this is a great move for unity.

WHAT UNITY? Because I'm not feeling the unity! I'm feeling divided, rebuked, as if the unity is around a guy who has been covering for a bunch of crooks called the Bush-Cheney Administration for years.

Pissing on the left is the top priority for business-as-usual Washington.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on November 18, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have their DIVA and the democrats have theirs. McCain's campaign spokeman's description of Sarah Palin as diva is absolutely the perfect description of Joe Lieberman, except he's ugly and doesn't have boobs.

Posted by: mattis on November 18, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

If voting Democratic made a difference, it would be illegal. Might as well join in with the GOP's efforts to wreck the place, that at least will work.

Posted by: turncoat on November 18, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Given that Obama and the Senate Dems have signaled that it's really no big deal to them if someone actively supports Republicans like John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Norm Coleman, I'm puzzled why I should care whether Franken wins or loses. Or Jim Martin. Or Begrich. If Norm Coleman is good enough for Joe Lieberman, and Barack Obama and Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are fine with Joe's support for Coleman, who cares about Al Franken? Why not just go with the incumbent Republican and save ourselves a lot of grief? That seems OK to Obama & Co.


Posted by: bluestatedon on November 18, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

SG, I know, my post was directed at those still surprised to find out he's not a Progressive. I do think he has more character than either or both Clintons, but he definitely marches to his own drummer, and we've still to see where it'll lead him. The gestures toward "Unity" have definitely been toward the right, but he realizes, or at least believes, the left has nowhere to go except back to self-marginalization.

Which brings up Catfish: Dean never left DFA. It's run by his brother Jim ("don't call me James") Dean. Organizations like DFA, which teaches effective grassroots organizing, should have a real voice in keeping the new government from going too far right. And Obama, like the rest of the country, owes the Deans a lot.

Posted by: ericfree on November 18, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Joe at 3:00 pm: If it's any consolation, I am a constituent of Clinton's and Schumer's and they couldn't care less what I had to say either. I wrote AND called them today to tell them that this is our country, not their country club and I won't be contributing another dime to the party. Also, Harry Reid must GO! BTW, I also called Leahy's office to thank him for speaking against the egregious Lieberman.

Posted by: Frak on November 18, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

bluestatedon makes a good point. Obama is happy to work with anybody. Don't waste time, effort and money working to elect progressive Democrats. Obama wouldn't.

Posted by: Brojo on November 18, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

John @ 3:03 PM posted: "What's the difference between Rep. John Bell Williams, Rep. Albert Watson, Rep. John Rarick, and Sen. Joe Lieberman?"
I'm surprised no one caught this; the first three were members of the House of Representatives, while Lieberman is, of course, a member of the Senate.
Different rules, different attitudes, different results.
The points made about the necessity for Lieberman to get the Democratic members of his committee to support sub poenas and investigations is one that hadn't occurred to me and it does remove much of the possible threat posed by him retaining his chairmanship.

Posted by: Doug on November 18, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's very likely that Republicans would have been a lot tougher if the situation had been reversed. They're big on party discipline. And it's really worked out well for them, hasn't it?

Giving Liebermann a pass would be a reasonable decision if the leadership has extracted some enforceable promises from him about future behavior. 60 is not a magic number, but it does matter. Unfortunately we'll likely never know what promises were made, and under what conditions. But it's not reasonable to assume there weren't any simply because there's not public discussion about them.

Governing is about more than screwing one's enemies. Bush and Rover were really good at that, and that didn't work out so well either.

Posted by: Robert Levine on November 18, 2008 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

in 1964, Rep. John Bell Williams (D) of Mississippi and Rep. Albert Watson (D) of South Carolina both endorsed Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, and both were punished by losing their seniority. Four years later, Rep. John Rarick (D) of Louisiana endorsed George Wallace's presidential campaign, and the party stripped him of his committee seniority, too.
To me, this clearly shows that punishment is not an effective deterrent. Rarick wasn't deterred by Williams and Watson's punishment, and Lieberman wasn't deterred by theirs or Raricks. It's just naive to believe that punishing Lieberman would deter any future cross-party endorsements.

Posted by: sc on November 18, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

In order not to tear my hair out, I am choosing to believe, as a Chicagoan, that Obama has made a Chicago-style deal with this devil. Anytime you hear a buzzword like "bipartisanship" bleated over and over and over again in one press conference, it's a pretty sure bet that none of knows the real rationale for the proceedings. With any luck, Joe has been played like a chess pawn.

At least, I'm audacious enough to hope so.

Posted by: Karen on November 18, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

To me, this clearly shows that punishment is not an effective deterrent. -sc

Who said it was a deterrent? It's not meant to be. It did, however, strip those three Democrats of any power, which is what we want for Lieberman.

He can campaign for whomever he wants, and he can refuse to hold Bush accountable, that's his prerogative; he just shouldn't be able to do it as a 'Democrat,' or with their blessing.

The point is not to prevent future defection, it's to give the chair to someone who deserves it and will use it.

Claiming it's some sort of deterrent is nothing more than a strawman argument.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Inhofe for Secretary of the EPA! Chambliss of Department of VA. Kyl for Interior. Michael Savage for DOD.

That will be Fucking Real Bipartisanship.

Posted by: gregor on November 18, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Levine, it's not about screwing enemies. The Democratic Party has just spent months asking millions of individual Americans like me to summon the time and money to elect DEMOCRATS and to defeat REPUBLICANS. Every phone call and letter and email I got from DEMOCRATS dramatically emphasized the seriousness of the political struggle against REPUBLICANS, and urged me to do anything I could to elect DEMOCRATS. But now, oddly enough, when the fundraising is over and these selfsame DEMOCRATS are faced with one of their own who actively campaigned for REPUBLICANS against DEMOCRATS, party labels are suddenly forgotten and its all kumbayaa. This is hypocrisy and cynicism of such Olympian magnitude that it even rivals your average Republican's. Let's be clear: Joe Lieberman actively campaigned for the election of Sarah Palin to be within a heart attack of the Presidency, and for Senate Democrats to determine that this is all well and good and that he should be rewarded with an important committee chairmanship is unforgiveable to me and many other Democratic donors and volunteers.

And speaking of committees: the most important reason to take Lieberman's chairmanship away from him is that he's been completely USELESS as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chair. It has nothing to do with revenge and everything to do with competence. I had no problem with Lieberman remaining within the Democratic caucus.

From now on, I'm limiting my campaign donation to local Democrats at no higher than the state level. The next time I get some breathlessly worded solicitation from a national Democrat urging me to open up my wallet lest a mean and evil Republican be elected, I will direct him or her to hit up Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Howard Dean or Harry Reid or John Kerry instead. If it matters enough to them, they can damn well ante up.

Posted by: bluestatedon on November 18, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...the right thing by not giving into urges for retribution." - Dean

Jerks! It isn't about retribution. It's about how he will use the position to screw things over. There is no advantage to leaving him there because he has absolutely no intention of voting with the Democrats for cloture when it is some issue that the Republicans are threatening a filibuster. If he is the 60th vote then the Democrats only have 59 anyhow.

I wish I could get a bet with the dopes that voted for him about whether or not he will make them sorry. I wouldn't have to worry about the economic situation.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 18, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Raise you hand if you're tired of people trying to invalidate your opinion regarding Lieberman by claiming it's about 'anger' or 'revenge.'

If your hand is up, remember this the next time their hand is out.

Posted by: doubtful on November 18, 2008 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

You write: "Kevin hit the note that's been bugging me. I guess they really showed him, didn't they? No Democrat will ever dare to support a Republican candidate for president, speak at the Republican national convention in prime time, and bad mouth the Democratic Party's candidate ever again."

Uh. Hello. This is sort of like flag-burning. How many Democrats in Congress today do you really think are going to go down the Lieberman road?

You write: "If we put everything else aside, the precedent here really is startling. As I reported last week, in 1964, Rep. John Bell Williams (D) of Mississippi and Rep. Albert Watson (D) of South Carolina both endorsed Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign, and both were punished by losing their seniority."

In 1964, the Democrats had already been in power in Congress for decades. They had controlled the White House as well for 20 of the previous 28 years, including the last 4. In 1964, LBJ won the White House by a 60-40 popular-vote margin, and the Democrats had huge majorities in both houses of Congress. They could afford to kick people out.


Posted by: CMcC on November 18, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Wait until Lieberman runs for office again. That's when to whack him.

Posted by: The Dude on November 18, 2008 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

There is only one way to explain this bizarre turn of events. Lieberman was a Democratic double agent within the McCain campaign serving under orders from Howard Dean. He brilliantly advised McCain that Palin was a fine Veep choice and that running to the right was great idea. He is now being rewarded for his daring and successful efforts behind enemy lines...or not.

Posted by: rege on November 18, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Do all of you need to be reminded that if the Democratic senators & Obama don't get 60 votes, the Republican senators can filibuster almost everything? Any new legislation? All federal judges? If Lieberman caucused with the republicans, how often do you think he would not vote with his new friends? Even if Georgia and Minnesota go Democratic, that's only 58 senators, and you still need Sanders (a given) and Lieberman, unless you can turn the two Maine Republican senators. Learn to count votes, people.
And for all of you threatening to vote third party, remember 2000- don't you think Al Gore might have been a better president than GWB?

Posted by: gyp on November 18, 2008 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Robert Levine, it's not about screwing enemies. The Democratic Party has just spent months asking millions of individual Americans like me to summon the time and money to elect DEMOCRATS and to defeat REPUBLICANS."

And the reason that I, like millions of others, sent the Democrats lots of money was not to elect Democrats, but to have a government that would govern the way the Democrats are likely to do. If Liebermann votes with the Republicans, then we got screwed. If he votes with the Democrats, then we didn't.

I'm assuming that the leadership extracted some enforceable commitments from him in exchange for his keeping his seniority. If they didn't, then I agree they just behaved very stupidly.

Posted by: Robert Levine on November 19, 2008 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

And why is Dean supporting L too? Am I nuts? He, like many, says we need to be above revenge, and seek practical governance. Fine, revenge is of limited value maybe, though it could have made sense to set an example. But why does anyone think that L can be trusted? Especially with such an important chair?

I console myself by imagining that he is on probation.

Posted by: Richard on November 19, 2008 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Well for goodness sakes... looks like President Obama is more interested in LEADING than in doling political retribution. I guess things really are changing.

Posted by: Jim G on November 19, 2008 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

This is a question for Jim G and others who have expressed support of the Lieberman decision calling it, among other things the avoidance of "political retribution."

If your teen son keeps getting in trouble at school for having weed in his locker, and he believes weed should be legalized, is disciplining him political retribution?

If you play rec league basketball, and one of your teammates keeps intentionally passing the ball to the other teams, do you keep playing him to avoid upsetting the chemistry?

If one of your co-workers is leaking company proprietary information to competitors do you support him keeping his job?

If one of your co-workers is consistently working less, less hard, and less skillfully than you, and is gossiping and bad-mouthing you and the bosses, and then the bosses give him a huge year-end bonus but you don't get one, are you ok with that?

This is not about "political" retribution. This is about (a) what a party is and what it means, and what the minimum standards are to have the benefits that come with a party; (b) everyone being accountable for their actions -- actions in this case that JoeLie knew were wrong -- and sending the message that we hold people accountable even when it costs us a vote, that is we put principle over pragmatic relativism; (c) it is about the proper incentives and rewards - Democrats who worked very hard and loyally for hte party's benefit this cycle will not all be able to get plum assignments, so why should a traitor? and finally at the most basic level it is about (d) trust - to be an effective, smoothly operating team requires trust among members. to do a good job and satisfy the public requires that we can trust our committee chairs to do their job.

Can you honestly tell me what is wrong with these principles or honestly say that any of them favor Lieberman in any way? Are you suggesting these principles are unimportant? Please explain.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 19, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats who worked very hard and loyally for the party's benefit this cycle...

...received a big wet raspberry from Lieberman and Senate Democrats.

Posted by: Brojo on November 19, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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