Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2009

SERIOUSLY, FORGET THE RECALL.... Yesterday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said she believes that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) "ought to be recalled." Today, filmmaker Michael Moore goes a little further.

Michael Moore is threatening the state of Connecticut with a boycott if they don't recall Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) -- which would put Connecticut's economy in a very tight spot, considering they couldn't recall him even if they wanted to.

Moore posted this on Twitter: "People of Connecticut: What have u done 2 this country? We hold u responsible. Start recall of Lieberman 2day or we'll boycott your state."

I can appreciate the appeal of the idea, but to reiterate a point from yesterday, this is not an option. Connecticut has no recall mechanism, and even if it did, members of Congress can't be legally recalled anyway.

Now, after I posted this yesterday, I received a little pushback from some readers who questioned whether the matter has really been settled. Reader D.H. emailed, "The question is not clearly addressed by the Constitution," and what the courts might say is unpredictable.

For the record, the Congressional Research Service published the authoritative report* on this issue six years ago, reviewing the law, the history, the states' limited authority over federal office's qualifications, and the relevant court rulings. The CRS's conclusion was clear: once elected, a member serves out his or her term unless in the case of a) resignation; b) death; or c) expulsion.

The 13-page report reads in part, "[T]he United States Constitution does not provide for nor authorize the recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President, and thus no Member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States. The recall of Members was considered during the time of the drafting of the federal Constitution in 1787, but no such provisions were included in the final version sent to the States for ratification, and the specific drafting and ratifying debates indicate an express understanding of the Framers and ratifiers that no right or power to recall a Senator or Representative from the United States Congress exists under the Constitution."

Voters in Connecticut elected Lieberman. They'll have another chance in 2012. There can be no recall.

* Interesting side note: the CRS report on this was published, originally, on Joe Lieberman's Senate website. Seriously.

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Of course, we can still boycott Connecticut as retribution for sending us Lieberman.

Posted by: do on December 16, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think if everybody in Connecticut would just head to Joe's local state or Washington DC offices demanding that he resign -- all 3.5 million of them -- why, I think he'd be on the first plane out of Dulles to Tel Aviv...

Posted by: neill on December 16, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

"ought to be recalled" is true even tho it's impossible.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on December 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Voters in Connecticut ... are retards, morons and melon heads. and douchebags. and they can go cheney themselves. we told them.

Posted by: hey conn go cheney yourself on December 16, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Neill - Why would Lieberman start doing what Connecticut voters wanted him to do now?

Posted by: Old School on December 16, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Now, what about the citizens of Connecticut beginning a senatorial impeachment process on old Joe Liemyassoffman! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 16, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Getting mad at Lieberman is like getting mad at a duck for quacking, or a dog for barking. It's what he does. We know it's how he operates. And you can't get mad at Reid for tossing him a bone every time he barks and then being surprised when Lieberman barks again. That's what Reid does.

Nor do I get joy out of playing Cassandra, predicting all this and getting to say I told you so, because that's our role in this whole charade. It's lost it's charm.

What would be shocking is if some form of sentience were to enter into it, and have someone not play their role in this kabuki theater and reassert free will so that we don't replay this charade over and over again.

Posted by: Memekiller on December 16, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Good point, Old School...Joey does only represent himself and the Insurance Co.s and Israel...

Why would three million Nutmeggers matter to him now?

BTW, for any and all congressional staffers and happy talkers of any other ilk who say that the health care 'reform' bill is important to pass or we're lost for a hundred years... i say, hell, it pushes us back a thousand years

Here is my reference:


Posted by: neill on December 16, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest the Democrats publically punish Lieberman or this is going to infect everything they do. Obama will keep stabbing them in the back, and much of the base will keep assuming that that was Obama's plan all along.

It's been days, it's pretty clear the base's rage isn't going to be placated by posts about how we all need to get serious or threats about how evil Sarah Palin is.

Posted by: soullite on December 16, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

re: criticism of Lieberman, let's keep it focused on what he does or doesn't do, not on baseless accusations of being somehow disloyal b/c of his religion. That's uncalled for and, frankly, highly offensive.


Posted by: Zorro on December 16, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Voters in Connecticut ... are retards, morons and melon heads. and douchebags. and they can go cheney themselves. we told them.
Posted by: hey conn go cheney yourself


I think if everybody in Connecticut would just head to Joe's local state or Washington DC offices demanding that he resign -- all 3.5 million of them -- why, I think he'd be on the first plane out of Dulles to Tel Aviv...


Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

What Lieberman wants is revenge for not recognizing his lifetime membership in the club, and to be kicked out so he can be a Republican hero and switch parties. Even he, at this point, must be shocked at Reid's faith in his better angels.

If you aim for the king, you better kill him. Lamont didn't. So he's been going for payback ever since, and that's primarily why he's there at this point, is to cause pain to all who don't recognize his birthright.

Posted by: Memekiller on December 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

OK, since Lieberman can't be recalled, how about the old practice of shunning? Seriously, I think his Democratic colleagues in the Senate should shun him and any former political allies in Connecticut should shun him for his reprehensible behavior. Heck, everybody in Connecticut should shun him because he's embarrassing the people who sent him to the Senate to represent them.

This ought to continue until his term is up. If Connecticut voters return him to the Senate in 2012, then Michael Moore has the right idea: shun the entire state for its reprehensible behavior. There have to be real and serious consequences for such conduct.

Posted by: Taobhan on December 16, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

The solution is to reach out to Joe with another committee assignment.

He's only against us on the war. He's with us on everything else.

Posted by: Harry Reid on December 16, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't we first get Joe to campaign for the Democratic candidate before we start worrying about getting him to vote with us? Baby steps.

Posted by: Obama on December 16, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad there can't be a vote of "no confidence" to get his ass kicked out.

Wishful thinking, I know.

Posted by: Kirsten on December 16, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Mmem, yeah, damn Lamont for believing the national party when they told them they would handle Lieberman and he should focus on building up his favorables.

Seriously, I wouldn't have believed them. I don't think it's fair to pretend it didn't happen, though.

Posted by: soullite on December 16, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

It strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to attack Lieberman for taking a position against certain aspects of healthcare legislation. He's not the only democrat to vote based on personally held (if somewhat wildly oscillating) values. List the dems that voted us into Iraq like a bunch of Bush-controlled automatons - where's the rage about those zombies? I think this frustration w/ Lieberman is really a frustration about the fact that us dems don't really have a 'party platform' to vote for - we just jump on whatever pabulum gets churned out of the social democracy issue grinder. I figure Connecticut likes the way Lieberman thinks - they sent him to Washington and his job is to represent them, not me (in Vermont). Lieberman's not wrong, he's just not part of the angry mob and so the mob is calling for his head as if he's the enemy.

Posted by: DanZ on December 16, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't piss on lieberman if he was on fire in order to put it out. But the fact is that he's gonna do what he's been bought and paid for to do. It's our responsibility to keep fighting to get the job done somehow. Enough moaning and whining already. It's time to get down and keep fighting these evil bastards like lieberman.HE COULD GIVE A SHIT WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY. We neeb to pressure our reps and senators to ostracize this asshole.And to work against him in the future.

Posted by: Gandalf on December 16, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see if this does anything to his approval ratings in CT. As of a month ago, his approval rating was higher than his disapproval: http://www.pollster.com/polls/ct/jobapproval-senlieberman.php

Posted by: Kris on December 16, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Notice the polls on Obama's and HCR approval tank any time they compromise and capitulate to Lieberman, etc? They tanked again with the death of the public option.

People see they aren't the ones winning this battle, and people want results.

Pass good HCR, Obama and the Dems popularity and legacy is secure. Don't, it tanks.

The worse they make the bill, the worse their public standing, which is exactly as it should be. No amont of money Big Pharma is promising will save them if they put their interests over ours.

Posted by: Memekiller on December 16, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm adjusting my blame-slamming quite a bit after reading Glenn Greenwald's latest post on Salon and Jane Hamsher's post on Politico. Lieberman is still a stinker for his conduct but it's looking increasingly clear that the HCR bill emerging from the Senate is exactly what the White House wanted and the Senate is willing to do. Lieberman is an actor in the drama but not the leading man by far.

I think it's disgusting that the White House and Senate are slipping a shiv into the back of its Democratic base and the American public on HCR. The American people expected and deserve better than this. The duplicity is getting so bad that it's hard for me to imagine ever voting for a Democratic candidate for national office again. Good luck in 2010, you Democratic candidates! And good luck to you in 2012, Obama! Don't look to me for financial support or votes.

Posted by: Taobhan on December 16, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Joe has been highly supportive of Israel, so perhaps it is time to offer him a choice between immediately becoming the ambassador to Israel, or gridlock on the next aid package for Israel. Plus maybe we could pass single-payer health care as a rider on a bill to force the president to send out christmas cards rather than season's greetings, or renaming JFK airport after Bush, or something else that would chafe the heck out of the republiscum if they didn't vote for it. (Yes, I'm frustrated.....)

Posted by: N.Wells on December 16, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Don't speak to Joe. He will not hear you. Attack his staff, family, friends, etc. Make their lives miserable, as he is making our miserable. This may not be fair, but this is not about fair; this is about saving lives and he is a killer.
He should be shamed through his "loved ones." Let them get the message he is not getting and force him to remove himself. And, include his beast of a wife...is she ugly, or what?

Posted by: disgusted on December 16, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Let's remember this the next time we're asked to support or fund the Israeli war machine. Talk about a deficit s**hole!

Posted by: Jim on December 16, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Could CT be persuaded to pass a new STATE law allowing a recall? Wouldn't this be a state matter?

Posted by: SF on December 16, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman lied to Ct folks to win the election. He played his now usual games to win the hearts and votes from CT. Most people I know were sorry 5 minutes after he won for voting for him. CT hates Lieberman I can assure you. I saw through Lieberman's tactics and did not vote. for him.

Posted by: mljohnston on December 16, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm another Connecticutian who did not vote for Joe, and neither did anyone else in my family. But plenty of moderate Dems were snowed that he was still going to be a good Democrat, just under his egomaniacal party instead. I took my mother's advice - don't listen to what he says, watch what he does - which is why I knew he'd continue to be the Supreme Asshole that he is.

Posted by: maurinsky on December 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Lieberman is a jerk. But he is also just playing his assigned role. Save some anger for Reid and Obama, masters of this charade.
This is at least the second time Obama has sold us out with a smile (telecom immunity being the first).

Posted by: jeri on December 16, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that a majority of the people in Connecticut didn't vote for Lieberman (he got 49.7% of the vote), it wouldn't be cool to punish the entire state for this asshat's behavior.

Posted by: josef on December 16, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"People of Connecticut: What have u done 2 this country? We hold u responsible. Start recall of Lieberman 2day or we'll boycott your state."

It's hard to believe that a majority of the people of Connecticut would pay more attention to Michael Moore than to Joseph Lieberman. The Senate, after all, is the result of the "Connecticut Compromise," and I am sure that the people of Connecticut appreciate that Lieberman is not letting them be railroaded by the big states like California and New York.

Just a thought.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 16, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Moveon claims to have raised 650 k in one day to oust him. So. Maybe the thing to do is:

1. Build the oust Joe funds
2. Either strip, or give him a ton, of committee assignments. Stuff like - Coast guard ? Inland waterways? Whatever pissant crap they give to freshmen.
3. Defund every last F*** ing earmark, CN related effort in every damn bill next year.
4. Next year, ONLY run bills that have $$ in them - ie, no new policy next year; write every bill that is needed via appropriations / reconciliation. Take away the power of the 9-10 biggest roadblocks.

Posted by: bigwisc on December 16, 2009 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Term limits would be a good way to go. It works for POTUS and it would be most appropriate for both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Posted by: Guy Average on December 16, 2009 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't people talk about stripping Lieberman of his Caucus Rights and his Chairmanships?

Lieberman is a terrible blight, and thanks to his actions, Democrats and President Obama suffer.

Why is there no call to punish Lieberman? Lieberman will make the Democratic party suffer and IS making the Democratic Party and President Obama to be seen as incompetent do-nothings.

The Democratic Majority, like the Republican Majority, is an un-manageable coalition.

But the Republicans represent the rich and poerful. All the rich and powerful need is for reforms and solutions to never arise.

Lieberman really is a toxic stereotype, a betrayer, a pompous fraud, but when Lieberman is attacked, almost all writers of Jewish descent rightly worry about Anti-Semitism and circle the wagons by claiming Lieberman is not all that terrible, despite all the evidence showing Lieberman's destruction of the progressive movement, he is "just stupid" or "Wiener shouldn't have said what Wiener believes in" or just assert that criticism of Lieberman is anti-semitic.

So far, Lieberman is dancing on the graves of the Progressive and Liberal thinkers and dancing on the election results of 2008.

Lieberman may as well be a Dictator for life. People in Connecticut must be pious frauds like Lieberman, and who can blame them: their Senator has veto power over everything and always will unless the Democrats, and Blogs like this one, call for Lieberman to lose hos positions in the Democratic Senate.

Posted by: tomcj on December 16, 2009 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Investigate him. He is more crooked than any man alive. He is a humiliating failure. Even Barney wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire.

Posted by: Sparko on December 17, 2009 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Wait a minute. 51 million of us were willing to have the honorable Sen Lieberman be "one heartbeat away..." as VP to woulda/coulda/shoulda President Gore.

Has he gone rotten in 8 years on the shelf? Or was he as bad then as he is now?

And Gore is riding the rough waves of Climategate. Good luck with that mess, Al.

No longer will I feel even the slightest bit guilty for writing in Pat Paulsen in 2000.

Posted by: Terry Ott on December 17, 2009 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

I'd love to see Lieberman out. I live in CT and I WANT HIM OUT! Michael Moore you are my hero.

Posted by: laura on December 17, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Veiled anti-semitism ... opening wishing harm to an elected official and his family ... profanity ... overheated rhetoric ... a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship under the Constitution between the federal government and the states ("citizen impeachment"!? "state recall law"!?) Ladies and gentlemen: Say hello to the Internet and Your Washington Monthly.

Posted by: Pat on December 17, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Instance Servant,burn distinction require opposition off extend employment across criterion computer those gain obviously home capital confirm stop along university alternative familiar to operation requirement green strange me earn debate learn finding truth belief scale official money civil means form necessarily competition additional paper somebody weak contribution welfare let attack base anyone observe back vote good conclusion twice do late half further result quiet hard latter in boy reject cat pension constant assessment accident position guide treaty partner basis that basic we thank meeting earn educational confirm record next need could economy

Posted by: hotel buchen muenster on April 3, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK



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