Lieberman keeps his chairmanship

by Alicia Long

As ABC News put it – Today was D-day for Senator Joe Lieberman.

The Democratic caucus voted today to keep Senator Joe Lieberman chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  As punishment, however, the dems stripped him of his chairmanship of a minor Senate subcommittee.  Lieberman talks with reporters after the 43-13 vote:

Via Daily Kos:  Governor Dean commented on Lieberman during a conference call this afternoon:

John Aravosis: (In re: the Lieberman vote) what do recommend that we tell our readers . . . when so many issues that come up that Democrats cave time after time? They keep feeling like we’re getting more Democrats and we’re going to have even more Democrats to cave next time.

Dean: You know, we’re going to find that out. This is the big test for us. Now we have a president. There’s no excuse for voting for stuff that you don’t think is in the best interest of the country anymore, for not standing up for what you believe. We have a president who is going to lead us and you all get to judge whether we’re leading you in the right direction or not. I think for the most part we will….

One of the things that happens when you have a party that takes over the government after it’s been out of power for a while is you cannot satisfy everybody at your end of the political spectrum all of the time…. And this is where I was talking about the restraint, is making the decision about what’s really worth fighting for and having the big fight inside the party and what’s not worth fighting for and you have to decide what that is. One of the things that will come up early inside the blogosphere is the issue of when to get out of Iraq…. Now we have, when Barack Obama takes office, are we going to get out in July of 2010, which is 18 months, or are we going to get out at the end of 2011 which is what Bush and the Iraqis have already agreed to.

I don’t know what the right answer is. Do we want to go to the mat over an additional 18 months in Iraq? I don’t know that either, but I do know that we want a strong president to deliver health care and renewable energy and i”m not sure we want to attack the president if that becomes and issue. SO you see what I was saying about tradeoffs. You have to make the decisions. We’re never going to get anybody who is a hundred percent with us on every issue…. But the question is what are willing to go to war on with each other over and what are we going to say, ok, this is an important issue there’s some disagreement, but we can’t let this distract us from climate change or health insurance or whatever other issues are….

What I’m saying here is  along comes Lieberman. He behaved very badly during the campaign and did some things that inside the club are unforgivable. So if you run and get a mandate for reconciliation is your first act to kick this guy out of the party? Well, people of my generation think yeah, damn right we should. But in this new spirit of reconciliation, which is why I think Barack Obama got elected by 66 percent of the under 35 vote, maybe if not (unintelligible) I’m very willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the Senators and to Barack Obama on that one. Do we want to have a big fight over what happens to Joe Lieberman? I don’t think so. I think we want to have a big fight about whether we have a decent health insurance program or a renewable energy program.

Jane Hamsher: With all due respect Governor Dean, we were just told to go screw ourselves, that our concerns for Barack Obama and our concern about the war and everything else that we fought so hard for within the Democratic party is meaningless and that Joe being happy and giving in to his threats–and he did threaten Democrats in his press conference–is more important than we are. And so I don’t think it was a matter of reconciliation. I think we were told to go Cheney ourselves.

Dean: I haven’t seen the blogs about this because this just happened but I’m sure the sentiment online is one of outrage. But I would line up with Barack. I don’t think you were told to go screw yourselves at all. I think he has got to now practice what he preaches during two years of campaigns if he wants to bring America together and as objectionable as Joe’s behavior was, and frankly unprincipled, I don’t think that this is the thing that should divide us. And I don’t think it’s about his votes for FISA or anything else. I think it’s about what kind of a tone do we want to send. Do we want a purge as the first thing we do? I don’t think so.

One thing is for sure.  The Democrats really seem to be sucking up to Lieberman.  But at the same time, why should petty party politics be a reason for giving a senior senator the boot?  Don’t get me wrong… I don’t like Joe Lieberman.  I think he is a backstabbing hypocrite.  But at the same time, Dean is right.  If the Democrats are going to put the right foot in front of the left, let’s leave old resentments at the door.  If Lieberman doesn’t straighten up, they can give him the boot later.  Give him a chance to be the good Democrat we all know he can be (or will be).


Filed under Democratic Party

2 responses to “Lieberman keeps his chairmanship

  1. Tony Robinson

    Very interesting Alicia. I loved reading through that exchange, and enjoyed the comment about being told to “go Cheney ourselves.” Ulimately, I agree with your analysis. It would be foolish for Dems to give Lieberman the boot and give him reason to align more closely with the repubs. It would “feel good”–but I don’t want to “feel good”–I want policies to change and new kinds of judges to be approved, etc. By keeping Lieberman in teh fold, he will continue to vote with the Dems on almost all issues, helping them to pass vital legislation, even if he annoys the hell out of people. Insulting him, kicking him out, forcing him to align with the Repubs for any kind of power, etc., would likely result in him voting less often with the Dems–and how would that help the Dems win important votes?

    If we start to see proof of Lieberman’s priorities actually shifting the party to the right, and proof that Lieberman’s ideas are vetoing more progressive ideas of others, then it may be time to boot him. But in the meantime, it makes little sense to boot a pretty dependable vote just because it makes Dems feel good as revenge for the general election.

  2. Shawn_Scanlon

    Argh. I’d love to see him kicked, but I agree with Tony here.

    Keep him, and let CT voters decide if they want Lieberman in 2012. He can’t/won’t win a primary, so it’ll be all about replicating the 2006 effort, where Republicans had only one real choice in Lieberman, and a good number of Dems thought that he’d be a good voice for their party.

    My guess: Republicans won’t sit quiet again, and will hope to sneak a conservative in by winning a three-way race. Without Republicans, he’s DOA.

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