Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Okay, I was wrong

I thought that even the Senate Democrats could get themselves together to do the painfully obvious, depriving Joe Lieberman of the Chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security and Governmental Operations Committee.

But I was wrong.

I don't take any comfort from it, but there's a big probability that they will seriously regret this. Holy Joe sat there the last two years cheering for war, endorsing McCain in the Republican primaries before there even was a Democratic nominee, and bashing the Democrats at every opportunity. But he didn't use his Committee to do any meaningful investigations of the most corrupt administration in the history of the Republic while they carried on with their predator-state ways.

Sooner rather than later, the Republican slime machine - or the dysfunctional Establishment press on their own - will come up with some Whitewater-type pseudo-scandal to use against Obama. And Holy Joe will feel deeply obligated to investigate the matter and fan the scandal for his Republican buddies.

It would be a good thing for the Democratic Congress to maintain an honestly critical eye on the Democratic administration. That's the way the system is supposed to work. But don't expect that from HoJo.

Heckuva job, Senate Dems! Y'all are off to a heckuva start for next year!

I wonder, did the Democrats get anything in the way of agreement from Lieberman in exchange for this capitulation to him? Did he promise to use his Committee to investigate some of the corrupt dealings of the outgoing administration, e.g., the post-Katrina reconstruction contracts? Did he agree to stop making his primary public function being an obnoxious advocate for Republican foreign policy positions? From what I could tell from the news, it was almost like the Democrats were begging him to let them completely capitulate to him!

Since our pod-people press corps are sure to spin this as the Democrats boldly standing up to "the left" and to the dirty blogging hippies, it's worth remembering what the activist base of the Democratic Party find so objectionable in Lieberman's conduct.

Having won the 2000 election as Al Gore's Vice Presidential running mate, Lieberman is a high-profile Democrat. And as his defenders are fond of pointing out, he has a fairly liberal voting record, definitely more liberal than your typical Republican. Without double-checking any systematic rankings, I believe his voting record overall is more liberal than any Senate Republican.

But pretty much since 9/11, Lieberman has used his high profile as a Democrat to go on talk shows and make speeches to hawkish political groups in which he focuses on attacking Democrats using Republican Party talking points, especially on national security issues. And it's primarily because he's counted as a nominal Democrat that he can pull off this schtick at all. As a run-of-the-mill Republican, he would have less star power, because there would be nothing mavericky about his repeating stock Republican talking points against the Dems.

That's why he wound up losing the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut in 2006. Then, after winning that general election as an independent supported in fact by Republicans - despite the fact there was an official Republican candidate in the race - the Democrats welcomed him back into the fold.

That decision actually made sense. They needed Lieberman's vote to have a Democratic majority in the Senate. And there was even some sense in recognizing his seniority by allowing him to chair the Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee. Because there was the possibility that he might use his position to investigate some of the many misdeeds of this massively corrupt Republican administration. But he didn't.

And Think Progress reminds us that barely two weeks ago, Lieberman in an interview with Glenn Beck was worrying that a 60-vote Democratic majority in the Senate could destroy America:

BECK: But do you agree that Senator Hatch said to me that if we don’t at least have the firewall of the filibuster in the Senate that in many ways America will not survive?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope it’s not like that, but I fear.
Now the Senate Democrats are welcoming him again with open arms like the proverbial Prodigal Son returning home. But he's a Prodigal Son with a twist: in the Biblical tale, the son repents of his former conduct and hostility toward his father. By whatever strange sort of logic it is on which the Senate Dems have been operating in relation to Lieberman, they don't seem to think it's necessary to require Lieberman to actually act like a real Democrat to welcome him back home.

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"It is the logic of our times
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