My Photo

« Full-Blooded Americans | Main | There Goes Another One... »

May 17, 2008

Comments

I largely agree. I say that because I am hoping that, with an Obama administration, his particular committee won't be as important for oversight. If McCain somehow manages to win this thing, the Democrats need to ease him onto a different committee.

The short explanation is that his vote is simply too valuable. For all his self-righteous preening and prancing, he does vote with Democrats on everything except national security issues.

Other than a million dead for no reason and a broken military, he votes with the Dems. Got it.

So if the Dems can at least approach 60, the whole game changes. With a new President and an expanded House majority, the Dems could suddenly pass some truly historic legislation

Yes, until one of the other Dems notices that he can hold his party hostage and demand, well, whatever he wants. There are, for better or worse, two political parties in this country. Discipline is important. Don't give in to political terrorism.

But the stakes are too high. Let him keep his chair and leave him to the Connecticut voters in 2012.

The Connecticut voters kept him because he is able to use his status in Congress to advance their interests. If he continues to be able to advance their interests, they will keep him again. Kick him off the committee. Refuse to advance a bill - any bill - that contains one provision, however small, that he adds. And assign one Dem to shadow Lieberman and vote the exact opposite of him on every single vote. Neuter him of any political impact whatsoever and Connecticut voters, as well as every other Democratic voter, will get the message. Short term this will involve some sacrifice. Most smart choices do.

It is way past time to start playing hardball.

Wait. Why does this follow? If you punish Joe, push him out of the party, why does that push his voting record to the right? I feel the assumption here is that he is appeasing Democrats by voting with them and would not be if they did not return favors.

But presumably, *he* too is beholden to the voters. And they like the liberal on domestic, hawkish on international split. If, without those chairmanships, he is both powerless in the Senate and suddenly becomes a disciplined Republican, he'll be utterly misaligned to his voters.

Does Lieberman want to be re-elected in 2010?

If so, why is he suddenly going to vote with Republicans against, "universal health care, major energy/environmental reform, an awesome Supreme Court Justice, more progressive federal judges, and so on," regardless of how the Democrats treat him.

Yes, he's a spiteful jackass, but that doesn't mean he'll vote against his own political interests.

It may be wise to tolerate him, though I doubt it, but the argument that the Democrats have to retain some leverage over him seems clearly wrong. Leverage is worthless if you never use it. Threats must be credible. If you're not going to punish him for supporting McCain, what will it take?

You are not thinking far enough ahead. If the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate, the Republican Party is irrelevant to politics in the U.S. and will quickly go out of business.

So the real question is what will the Democratic primary elections be when they are the only relevant elections.

Also, there will not be any need for oversight because there will be no alterantives. However, corruption at the personal level will probably skyrocket. If people cannot affect things through the politics process, their will find other ways to protect themselves.

Nothing is free of cost, Publius, including Lieberman's vote. Even granting your assumption that he will start voting against his interests and constituency even more than he does now--an assumption I do not share--you have to weigh that against the damage done by allowing him to continually assault and campaign against the Democratic Party free of consequence.

I get what you're saying about one vote being important, and becoming even more so as we get closer to 60. But it's not worth giving right-wing blowhards the talking point of "even Democrats say x". It's not worth appearing impotent in the face of his blatant party treason, a position that contributes to the appearance of Democrats being unwilling to fight for what they believe. And it's definitely not worth setting the dangerous precedent that you can regularly attack your own party, even campaign for the opposition, and still be rewarded with power and influence within the party.

I frankly can't think of many things that would be worth that.

Bernard
Lieberman isn't up for re-election until 2012. My guess is he'll retire.
I'd give him one chance to go with the Republicans on a cloture vote. Then it's over the side with him. No chairmanship, no committee assignments.

Screw him. Party discipline has to mean something. As soon as you campaign for one of theirs - you're no longer one of ours.

SqueakyRat,

My mistake. But why give him one more bite?

I'm not familiar with Senate rules. Is it possible to take away a committee chairmanship, or membership, mid-session? What would happen if he did something really loathesome?

You're only as strong as your weakest link.

The Democratic Party is far better off cutting deals with anyone and everyone from Tom Coburn to Olympia Snowe to Dick Lugar to everyone in between then counting on Joe Lieberman to be anything other than a canker on the party.

He didn't abide by the judgement of the Democratic voters of CT, didn't support the nominee of the national party, is actively campaigning for Republican incumbent Susan Collins in Maine, and he's out peddling the nonsense that A) Hamas is somehow endorsing Obama and B) it's some kind of telling anecdote about the candidate (ie, Obama is an appeasing secret Muslim).

Lieberman should be politically kneecapped, not embraced.

And here I thought Joe is an independent who just happens to caucus with the Dems.

He's already left the party. If he wants to continue to caucus with the Dems, fine. If not, well be polite, but withdraw any party granted power from him...no chairmanships.

Let him sink or swim on his own.

Lieberman is already being used by McCain against Obama and that will only get worse. He needs to be de-legitimized as soon as possible. Low-information voters still see this guy as a Democrat. Lieberman needs to be publicly re-defined as a Republican partisan. There's no better way to do that than for Democrats to pick a major public fight with him. Kick him out of the caucus!

This isn't about disagreeing with Lieberman. This is about Lieberman very actively working against the Democratic nominee.

What everyone else said.

Okay, but does he have to be chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee? It would have been nice if he had taken his responsibilities seriously in the last couple years rather than doing nothing. Methinks that he'll suddenly find his pile of subpoenae once a Democrat takes the presidency.

First off, I find it highly unlikely that Joementum with carry through into another senate term. His alignment with the warmongers means he's probably going to defeated if he were to run again. And given the likely state of the senate in 09, the only votes the D's need him for is cloture votes. Lieberman, on the other hand, benefits from being in a prime committee seat, that the D's will control. Long story short, to get the chair, Lieberman must agree to always vote the democratic party line on all cloture votes. He's free to vote differently for all actual votes.

Oh, and no Lieberman does not vote with the Democrats on everything except the war. Cloture for Alito is great example.

"Barzini's not such a bad guy, Sonny. He's with on us everything but which family should run things."

No. And a million times no.

It's one thing not to vote with the party on big, vital things (which is not just the war, but all national security and civil liberties issues, and a bunch of economic fairness issues besides (bankruptcy "reform", e.g.).

It's another thing to endorse and campaign with the Republican presidential nominee, and to smear a Democratic candidate (and probable nominee).

That's the bright line.

He's a Republican.

I agree with a lot of what you say, Publius, but I want to propose an opposite conclusion: Toss Joe Now.

My understanding is that under the rules that govern this Senate, the Dems could lose 49 members in freak accidents and still keep Harry Reid as majority leader (the 2001-3 Senate, which started out at 50-50, was deliberately set up specially to permit control of the body to switch). Joe should be punished now for his behavior now.

And not just his repellant behavior on the Presidential campaign trail - though that alone could merit it, and Chairmain Lieberman repeating the Hamas slander in the Keynote Address of the Republican Convention would be even worse than Senator Lieberman doing so - it is that his chairmanship is vitally important to the narrative the national Democrats need to be creating this year.

His opposite number in the House is Henry Waxman. Henry Waxman. Lieberman, in stark contrast to Waxman, is using his power to prevent exposure of Administration and Contractor malfeasance and corruption.

I propose that the Democrats strike towards correcting the errors of the Bush Administration by replacing Lieberman. And I further propose that they do so in an overtly patriotic, less-partisan way, by replacing Lieberman with Dick Lugar. Honest (for a Senator), willing to speak out on relevant issues, retiring from the Senate, and an actual Republican instead of a wannabe. The Dems will lose Lieberman's vote, but if that bridge must be crossed better it were crossed early. Lieberman isn't critical to the Republicans' blocking of Dem bills anyhow, but as pointed out by other commenters if they Dems pay blackmail they'll be paying forever.

He's not such a bad guy. Aside from supporting Bush's war, he only voted with the Republicans to give Americans the legal right to torture prisoners.

There's a rundown here on a bunch of other votes where Lieberman voted with the Republicans, but you may regard all of them as mere political disputes, or even matters of "national security".

The legal right to torture, though? You think the Democratic Party ought to allow someone into their caucus who voted for that? I'd hope that at least one political party in the US would have higher standards than that.

I agree with everyone else, and want to add a tactical consideration to the moral revulsion that is, for me, sufficient by itself.

Right now there's a contingent of pro-war, pro-terror, pro-chaos Democrats who vote with the Republicans. Not all of them on every key issue, but there they are in numbers from three to a dozen or so whenever it counts. And one of the reasons they do that is that they know from experience there'll be no consequences for doing so.

Expelling Lieberman would put that group on notice that they can't do it forever, either, and this would be very salutary. After they get a scare, then there can be discussion about the price to be paid for their continued presence in the Democratic contingent.

We already know, after all, what the Republican strategy for the next administration will be. They've been very clear about it. We need the broadest Democratic coalition that actually is a voting coalition, not the broadest possible list of candidates who happen to be listed as Democrats.

"As the recent Alaska numbers show (via LGM), the magic number of 60 is very doable, if still unlikely."

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but it seems to me entirely possible that we could pick up as many as seven to nine Senate seats, not just six.

I fully expect us to take Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, and New Hampshire, and most likely New Mexico, with good odds on North Carolina, and fair odds on Minnesota, and a decent shot at Kansas. Texas, Kentucky, and Alaska remain within the realm of possibility.

I'm perhaps being too optimistic, but it's also a bit silly to be remotely confident of any predictions more than six months before an election, as events always dominate, and who knows what might happen between now and then?

But I am that optimistic right now, even though it might look idiotic in November.

On the question of Lieberman, I have no opinion just this moment, but I do want to remind everyone that this isn't personal: it's business, which is to say "politics," and that any conclusions are best reached cold-bloodedly.

Though I imagine that Lieberman is being kept in because of some warped notion of collegiality, I'm hoping that there is a notion of revenge being a dish best served cold. It would be nice to see the kind of pickups that would make a veto proof majority and THEN kick joe out on his sorry butt, but it may be a case of pre-hatched chicken counting.

The legal right to torture, though? You think the Democratic Party ought to allow someone into their caucus who voted for that? I'd hope that at least one political party in the US would have higher standards than that.

If the Democrats adopted this standard (which, incidentally, I'd be all in favor of), they'd also have to toss Senators Menendez, Lautenberg, Brown (who voted for legalizing torture in the House), Carper, Landrieu, Stabenow, Johnson, Pryor, Salazar, and both Senators Nelson.

Unfortunately, Lieberman's vote for torture was a vote with a quarter of his fellow Senate Democrats.

Incidentally, if you think that support for torture should be reason enough for someone to be tossed from the Senate, send some money to Rebekah Kennedy, Mark Pryor's Green Party opponent in Arkansas. The GOP isn't running anyone against Pryor, so this is a free, progressive shot against a Torture Democrat.

Gary, very much true about "cold-bloodedly". I have a great interest in an actually effective Democratic presence in the Senate. (Which means I really need to read up on what can be done to Harry Reid, too.)

Publius,

Your article is reasonable enough but it neglects an important point which is perhaps more important than Lieberman's smears agianst his own party and support for a Republican nominee.

Lieberman's charmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee is a major obstacle to oversight of the executive branch.

Under his control, the committee is a joke and Lieberman, unsurprisingly, does not carry out far-reaching investigations into the Iraq War or any aspect of Bush's foreign policy or unconstitutional conduct.

The obvious contrast is with Henry Waxman's stewardship of the corresponding committee in the House of Representatives which actually attempts to hold lawbreakers to account, however ineffectually for the time being.

Lieberman should be removed from his Senate Committee chairmanship not out of vengeance, but because he does not do his job.

Oh, Warren Terra said what I wanted to say earlier.... Kudos, Warren!

Under his control, the committee is a joke and Lieberman, unsurprisingly, does not carry out far-reaching investigations into the Iraq War or any aspect of Bush's foreign policy or unconstitutional conduct.

The obvious contrast is with Henry Waxman's stewardship of the corresponding committee in the House of Representatives

To make a trivial correction, Henry Waxman isn't chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton is; Waxman isn't on HASC at all; you're thinking of his excellent chairing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

And Lieberman isn't chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee; he's chair of the Subcommittee on Airland; this is a trivial distinction, though, since he could use that position almost equally well, and as you note, does not.

Lieberman is also chair of the full Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

He should have been stripped of his seniority the moment he announced, after losing the primary, that he would run as an independant.

Failure to do so showed him that he could get away with just about anything and not face consequences.

I understand real politik, but sometimes you have to honor character and punish the lack thereof.

If there are very many "litmus test" issues on which Dem Senators must conform to a party line, the Dems may still win enough seats to hold a filibuster-proof majority this time, but they will not hold that large a majority for long. There will be anti-abortion Dem Senators; there will be pro-big-business Dem Senators; there will be anti-gun-control Dem Senators; there will be anti-tax Dem Senators; and despite the importance that I think Iraq policy holds this cycle, there will be Dem Senators in favor of a militaristic foreign policy and harsh interrogation.

You can't punish them all.

While it's true you can't punish them all, you can certainly punish the ones that actively campaign for the Republican candidate for President.

OffThread.
THIS">http://">THIS will resonate.
Something I’ve been waiting for: But it excels any imaginable expectation.
Jeff Sharlet (author of The Family) talking with Will Wilkinson in deeply widely ranging skilled inquiry.

Only for myself, I’m utterly struck by Sharlet’s offhand “I read the Bible. I love it.” Given the depth and range of his reporting.

I’m looking forward to the conversations that ensue. I’d love a thread here if it’s judged suitable.

One weakness of waiting until the Democrats have a 60-vote majority to punish Lieberman is precisely that the punishment is then cost-free. That reduces its deterrent effect.

If you penalize bad behavior even at a short-term cost to yourself the message is much clearer. If Lieberman wants to be a Democrat when committee chairmanships are handed out, he needs to be one during the Presidential campaign. Letting him get away with his shenanigans projects nothing but wimpiness and a willingness to be pushed around.

Lieberman needs deportation to Israel, except that Palestinians would rightly be offended.

Felix, I think this is the link you meant.

’Tis. Thanks. (But I get it with both of our links. [?])

Felix, take a look at your link: it ends with a spurious http: at the end. If you remove the trailing http:, you end up with bhtv ep involving Balkin and Posner. My guess is that the trailing bits compel the bhtv server to pick the most recent diavlog available. Right now, that's the one you're interested in, but tomorrow it likely won't be.

In any event, it was indeed a fascinating interview. Thanks for pointing it out.

"I’d love a thread here if it’s judged suitable."

Is there a transcript, for those of us perfectly happy to zoom through one, but uninterested in sitting around listening while people talk aloud at 1/20th the speed?

"Lieberman needs deportation to Israel,"

This seems a someone over-the-line criticism to me, in its antisemitic implications. But maybe that's just me.

(If you just said "needs deportation," fine. But why to Israel? Are you saying that he has dual loyalties, and that's the essence of his flaws, or what are you trying to say?)

Fer sure.
That’s a bug with the bhty setup. I can never be confident the desired link will make it.

Oh, 66 minutes? Reading the transcript would take 5 minutes; some of us are impatient with the differential. Or, again, maybe that's just me. Oh, well.

Gary, I have figured that would be a problem for any bhtv recommendation I offered, but I haven’t encountered any mention of such things.
Anyway, no big thing. If interest picks up there’ll be written words here and there.

I’m content to wait on events.
Thanks.

Gary, there's a button on the bhtv viewer that plays the video at 1.4 times the regular speed. Its still quite comprehendable that way.

If that's the same Ken Hoop as at Orcinus, I would assume antisemitic leanings but there are also arguments that Joe Lieberman has indeed dual loyalties with those to Israel trumping those towards the US in case of doubt. Can't provide specific links but I believe there were discussions on that at Greenwald's with quite specific claims backed by links to 1st hand sources.
The claims that he holds dual citizenship seem to be untrue though (apart from Jews being Israeli citizens by default, that is*)

*clarification: that is not a political or slanderous statement but a peculiarity of Israeli law

In the Republican party there really aren't any swing votes. They are all Specters, they talk big but vote down the line with VERY rare exceptions. Their party functions on brutal discipline and that is its benefit.

Unless the shattering defeat of 2008 changes their attitude, there will not be much point aiming at Repub stragglers and Lieberman's vote does not help much since we won't get 60 votes anyway.

Hartmut,

Jews are not Israeli citizens by default. Jews have the right to claim Israeli citizenship if they wish.

i agree with gary that the deportation comment was over-the-line

FWIW: I’ve never understood the Lieberman hatred coming from your side.

On social policy matters, Lieberman's liberal ranking was better than 14 other Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid.

On economic matters, Lieberman came out as more liberal than fully 20 other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, with a liberal score of 74 out of 100 - even better than liberal Democratic stalwarts like Maria Cantwell, Herb Kohl, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka, and Debbie Stabenow.

Of course, Lieberman's voting record was also far to the left of every Republican in both of these areas, and if you look at his vote ratings from key interest groups, Lieberman's record looks yet more progressive. Here are his ratings from key issue advocacy groups according to the Almanac of American Politics:
• Americans for Democratic Action: 80
• League of Conservation Voters: 100
• American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: 86
• American Civil Liberties Union: 83

And in case you were wondering:
• American Conservative Union: 0
• Christian Coalition: 0

Here are most recent rankings from other prominent issue groups, as pulled from VoteSmart:
• National Organization of Women: 75
• NAACP: 85
• Human Rights Campaign: 88
• League of United Latin American Citizens: 100
• NARAL: 75 (based in large part on his Roberts vote; in 2004, it was 100)
• Planned Parenthood: 100
• Alliance for Retired Americans: 100 (their big issue: protecting Social Security)
• Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: 90
• National Right-to-Life: 0
• NRA: F (NRA gives grades rather than numerical scores)

Yeah, better purge this traitor from your party… On a larger scale, this is an example of what I mentioned the other day. If you are not 100% aligned you just aren’t in.

If you are not 100% aligned you just aren’t in.

Bollocks. If you actively campaign against the party, you aren't in.

OCSteve,

I think this is one of those cases where the details really matter. There have been a number of important cases where Lieberman has voted for or against cloture with his Republican allies against Democrats; for measure that Democrats support that eventually make it to a floor vote, he then votes with the Dems since they usually have more than enough votes to carry when they can get past the Republican filibusters. In other words, he votes with the Republicans when it really mattes and votes with the Dems when it wouldn't make a difference anyway.

I know that at least some (supposedly sophisticated) interest groups completely fall for this trick: NARAL and Planned Parenthood come to mind. Because of that, I'd be very skeptical of ratings made by other groups. It seems that many groups think that cloture votes are harmless procedural matters -- and maybe they are sometimes -- but these days, they're often a heck of a lot more important than other votes.

OCSteve, here is one example of what I'm talking about. Putting aside the merits of the pro-choice position in this case, I think we can all agree that politicians who say they're pro-choice should actually, you know, do pro-choice things. And I think that in the real world, when Alito's nomination was on the table, the only vote that mattered was the cloture vote. Lieberman voted with the Republicans, thereby ensuring Alito got his nomination. The fact that he voted against Alito on the floor is completely meaningless.

Now, the one defense I can see of Lieberman's behavior in this case was if he had an honest and consistent position on not using cloture votes for partisan gaming. But he doesn't.

We're all distant from the machinations in Washington and I think that can leave us with a somewhat distorted perspective. Many commenters above wrote eloquently about justice and fairness and incentives, but I don't think this issues will decide much for Lieberman. It seems that for many people in Congress and for many interest groups, the ties of personal affection and camaraderie bind more tightly than mere strategic calculus. This is the real reason why Lieberman can get away with damn near anything: he's Harry Reid's buddy, and Reid, like most Senators, values his friendship more than he cares about the country or doing his damn job.

Yeah, better purge this traitor from your party… On a larger scale, this is an example of what I mentioned the other day. If you are not 100% aligned you just aren’t in.

When (you think) people are behaving like totalitarian jerks, sometimes it helps to ask them to explain their behavior BEFORE you accuse them of obsessive ideological rigidity. Not that I'm always smart enough to do that myself of course. But it can help to avoid a certain defensiveness.

I'll be very honest with you: if we lived in a just world, we'd be doing a whole lot more to Lieberman than just purging. This is a guy who greased the skids for the Iraq war in a major way, who goaded the war machine and gave bipartisan cover to Republicans. And even now, he refuses to admit that the war was a bad idea. If you play that major a role in getting half a million civilians killed, a purging should really be the least of your worries. I would hope that as a conservative, you might appreciate these most basic notions of morality and personal accountability for privileged leaders.

OCSteve, I'm going to appeal to your cynicism. :) Lieberman is one of a cohort of politicians who have figured out how to game the rate-your-congresspeople systems. Put that way, is it less of a surprise?

Gary: Oh, 66 minutes? Reading the transcript would take 5 minutes; some of us are impatient with the differential. Or, again, maybe that's just me. Oh, well.

Gary, you're not alone. :-)

"Jews have the right to claim Israeli citizenship if they wish."

And more and more difficulty proving you're a Jew
to the satisfaction of the Israeli rabbinate
. The linked article should tell you all you want to know about that, and more.

On social policy matters, Lieberman's liberal ranking was better than 14 other Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid. . . . If you are not 100% aligned you just aren’t in.

Just for the record, these two sentences can not both be true at the same time.

OCSteve: I’ve never understood the Lieberman hatred coming from your side.

Put aside the votes, the regular dissing of the rest of the party. Does his campaigning for the Republican candidate for President help you understand it?

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/53_40/news/20399-1.html


ROLL CALL
The Newspaper of Capitol Hill Since 1955

Iraq Probes Not on Lieberman Agenda
By Emily Pierce
Roll Call Staff
October 10, 2007


The day news broke that the Iraqi government was revoking the license of Blackwater USA over a questionable Baghdad shootout that killed 17 civilians, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced plans for hearings to probe the State Department’s reliance on private security contractors.

On that same day — Sept. 17 — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced two firefighting grants for the towns of Bolton and Willington in his home state.

Though the two committees have similar investigative powers and mandates to uncover waste, fraud and abuse of government funds, Waxman has held eight hearings on Iraq and contracting abuses this year, while Lieberman has held only one on reconstruction challenges in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

And though Waxman rarely has missed an opportunity to fire off angry letters to the administration over potential waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct among government contractors, Lieberman — along with his predecessor and current ranking member, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — has shown relatively little interest in tackling those issues.

- - "ROLL CALL" newspaper, 10/10/2007

desitalico!

Again.

There are other areas, in addition to votes on national security, where Lieberman ISN'T with the Democrats.

http://washingtonindependent.com/view/lieberman-the-anti


Lieberman: The Anti-Waxman
Lieberman's Committee Doesn't Go After Corruption Like Its Counterpart in the House

By Matthew Blake 03/17/2008

[...] What's less known about Lieberman are his leadership responsibilities in Congress. He is the chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which is responsible for government oversight and reform. The anonymity of his oversight role is surprising given the regular news made and scandals uncovered by the counterpart House oversight committee, Henry A. Waxman (Calif.).

But the way Lieberman runs his committee demonstrates that he is the anti-Waxman. Since January 2007, after six years of watching the GOP Congress support President George W. Bush, Waxman has held strongly partisan hearings and investigations into the administration. Lieberman, however, has stayed out out of the headlines -- and, for the most part, out of the administration's hair.

"It is [Lieberman's] general political outlook," said Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "His inclination would not be to go after the Bush administration."

[...]

“He’s done a terrible job,” said Melanie Sloan, the executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “He doesn’t believe in oversight of the Bush administration.”

Many critics sounded most aghast when talking about Lieberman's refusal to investigate Blackwater. Last September, the private security company’s guards opened fire in an Iraqi public square, allegedly killing at least 17 Iraqis. Waxman was all over the grisly incident, bringing in Blackwater CEO Erik Prince and releasing a report chronicling other instances where Blackwater employees killed Iraqis without punishment.

Lieberman, meanwhile, said at the time, “You’ve got to set your own priorities and it was clear to me that other committees were going to pick this up.” But, in fact, Senate Democrats saw the need to set up a special wartime contracting commission after the Blackwater shootings. The bill had 28 sponsors and co-sponsors. Lieberman wasn’t one of them.

When the topic does move from Iraq and the "war on terror," Lieberman is a less polarizing figure. He even draws praise as a consensus builder.

Joan B. Claybrook, executive director of Public Citizen, said Lieberman and the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Me.) did a "stellar job" getting both parties to come together on lobbying and ethics reform. Lieberman and Collins have also begun to wade into the myriad problems of the 22-agency, 210,000-employee Dept. of Homeland Security.

“There should be a committee where Homeland Security is the only focus,” said Ornstein. Ornstein added that on issues like border security and domestic nuclear detection, Lieberman has done a “modestly positive job" in providing much-needed oversight.

Lieberman has also won kudos from public employees unions for his work on governmental affairs. On this subject, Lieberman, and to a lesser extent, Collins have confronted the Bush administration, challenging their effort to wipe out the collective bargaining rights of civil servants. “Lieberman has been a stalwart champion of federal employees and their families,” praised Beth Moten, legislative and political director for the American Federation of Government Employees.

The cooperation between Lieberman and Collins goes beyond committee work, for Lieberman is raising money and stumping for Collins in her tough re-election bid.

[...]

- - "Washington Independent" 03/17/2008

Harry Reid said, "He's with us on everything but the war."

. . . That must mean that campaigning for the re-election of a Republican Senator in Maine is now considered as part of the war . . .

Publius (and Harry Reid) may be correct that the Democrats should keep Lieberman in their caucus, even though he's no longer in and with the party.

But it's wrong to say that Lieberman is with the Democrats on everything except national security.

More importantly, how are the Democrats going to frame Lieberman's (almost certain to happen) big speech at the GOP convention in September? Unlike Zell Miller, Lieberman will speak in a seemingly calm and reasonable manner, and he could sway a lot of votes. (Can Lieberman deliver 40% of the Jewish vote to McCain? Can Obama win if he get only 60% of the Jewish vote? And remember that Lieberman can deliver many non-Jewish votes, too.) So keep Lieberman in the caucus, but also keep talking about how he's wrong on Iraq, wrong on lack of oversight, wrong to vote for telecom immunity, wrong to campaign for Susan Collins, wrong to support waterboarding, etc. etc.

the real question is what will the Democratic primary elections be when they are the only relevant elections.

Wow... just.. wow. You guys don't even control all three branches of government yet, and you're already crowing hubristically? Do you not remember that it was the Republicans who were saying this kind of thing as recently as 2004?

I give the Democrats two years in control of all three branches of government before the voter backlash begins. The GOP is in such bad shape that it might take them a bit longer to reform sufficiently to pose a legitimate threat to retake control of one or the other house of Congress in 2010, but talk of a permanent Democratic majority is absurd.

Xeynon: I don't know what superdestroyer's party affiliation is, but if I had to guess, I would not have pegged him or her as a Democrat.

Xeynon, I suggest you check out superdestroyer's previous comments (here and here and here as a start) before labelling him as "you guys". His viewpoint is...unique.

Sorry, that last link should be here

It occurs to me that in essence, we're all urging Publius to adopt the idea that people respond to incentives.

"Wow... just.. wow. You guys don't even control all three branches of government yet, and you're already crowing hubristically?"

Wtf? "Superdestroyer" is some flavor or other of conservative, who despises Democrats, and is a one-note pony about how shifting demographics are destroying the Republican party and how terrible this is. All SD does is moan about this.

"[C]rowing hubristically"? Can I have some of your LSD, please? Talk about a clear case of responding to your imagination, and not what's written: sheesh.

"Can Lieberman deliver 40% of the Jewish vote to McCain?"

No.

[...] According to Gallup's aggregated tracking data for all of April, 61% of Jewish voters would vote for Obama, much higher than the national average of 45% of all registered voters.

Rather than declining between March and April, support for Obama versus McCain among Jewish voters has increased slightly, from a 23-point margin in favor of Obama (58% to 35%) to a 29-point margin (61% to 32%).

I don't expect this to change dramatically in favor of McCain.

Historically. In the last four presidential elections, the Republican candidate received 24%, 19%, 16%, and 11% (!) of the Jewish vote. Bush 41 peaked with 35% in 1988, and Reagan only managed 31% in 1984. The highwater mark in modern times was Reagan's 35% in 1980.

McCain isn't Reagan. I'd be surprised to see him doing even that 35% in November, and think it's most likely he'll drop back to under 31% at best. I could be wrong, but 40%? Seems extraordinarily unlikely.

More here:

http://salon.com/news/feature/2008/05/19/jewish_voters

[...] The largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the country, AIPAC, says McCain, Obama and Clinton all meet their approval. "All three candidates," said spokesman Josh Block, "have strong congressional voting records on issues important to the pro-Israel community and have demonstrated their commitment to the special relationship between the United States and Israel." AIPAC is nonpartisan, and won't endorse either McCain or Obama. But if the group felt that Obama wasn't sufficiently pro-Israel, you'd have heard about it.

That may be all Obama really needs to do about as well as most past Democratic candidates have done among Jewish voters. Observers of the Jewish vote say most Jews aren't really classic single-issue voters; if candidates can get past the basic question of whether they're pro-Israel or not, that's usually enough for voters to move on to other topics. [...]

- - Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent


But the GOP are betting that Lieberman can sway some critical swing voters, both Jewish and non-Jewish. That's why Susan Collins is happy to have Lieberman campaigning for her, in Maine.

If and when Lieberman makes a prime-time speech at the GOP convention, the "mainstream" news coverage will be all about how Lieberman is a moderate and sensible guy -- and he was Al Gore's pick for veep -- and the commentar will be all about how Lieberman's not anything at all like Zell Miller.

Karl Rove has already stressed this message several times - - the message that Obama's claims to bipartisanship are fake, and the TRUE "bipartisan" is Joe Lieberman.

That message has enormous appeal to certain swing voters, and enormous appeal to the majority of "mainstream" pundits -- who still consider Broder as their "dean".

So the question isn't only, should Lieberman stay in the caucus, but the question is also, is it possible to keep Lieberman in the caucus AND neutralize Lieberman's political usefulness to the GOP.

"The highwater mark in modern times was Reagan's 35% in 1980."

Sorry, that should be "39%."

Nixon also pulled 35% in 72, but only 17% in '68, while Goldwater got all of 10% of the Jewish vote in '64. (If you go back longer, Eisenhower in '56 got the highest percentage of votes for a Republican Presidential candidate ever, with 40%, though only 36% in '52 -- I don't see McCain as exactly matching Eisenhower's level of popularity: do you?)

In the prior three presidential elections to that, the Republican only got 10%, but by then we're talking about a quite different generation and environment than in the 21st century.

And remember that Lieberman can deliver many non-Jewish votes, too.

Uh, no. Not voters that were ever remotely likely to vote Democratic to begin with.

Jon Stewart's crack from 2003 is still fully appropriate: "He's the candidate for voters who're looking for someone like George Bush... only more Jewish."

I don't think bringing up the Israeli angle adds anything of real value to the discussion. Even if it's true that he puts Israel's interests ahead of those of the United States, the same can be said about the much of the Republican Party if you replace the word "Israel" with "social conservatives", "big business" etc. The problem is that even by bringing up Israel in this context you raise the specter of antisemitism and distract from the essential point.

Moreover, that point can be made without bringing it up at all: Lieberman's active campaigning for the Republican Party nominees and his reliable willingness to publicly attack the Democratic Party are enough. We didn't kick him out--he quit the party. Not just implicitly in terms of his actions, but explicitly; he removed himself from the Democratic Party when the Democratic voters in CT rejected him, and ran as an independent.

Repeat as often as necessary to understand what's going on here: Lieberman is NOT a Democrat. We didn't reject him, he quit the Democratic Party and ran against its nominee as an independent.

What I don't get is why we didn't give Lieberman (who has a demonstrated record of disloyalty to the party) the same kind of deal we gave Bernie Sanders (who has a complete lack of such a record) when he ran for the Senate. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, but the deal was that he gets to keep his House seniority and committee assignments in exchange for voting with the Democrats on all procedural issues.

"Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, but the deal was that he gets to keep his House seniority and committee assignments"

I'm confused: you're saying that a member of the House who is elected to the Senate is given seniority in the Senate, and committee assigmnents because of their service in the House? That's just not true; there is no such connection. Service in one body of Congress gives no "credit" for service in the other body.

If that's not what you're saying, what are you saying?

I see, googling about, that Wikipedia says Sanders had such an arrangement in some way, but I can't find another source, on a quick search, that speaks to this, and there's no cite or detail in Wikipedia. It's certainly possible that the Democrats gave Sanders, someone in a unique position as regards his party situation, a unique deal, but I'm really curious as to what "retaining seniority from the House" means, since there otherwise is no such concept (and Jeffords was in the Senate, so made no such precedent). What does that mean, and if it's accurate, can you give me a cite to somewhere I can read about this beyond the unsupported claim in Wikipedia?

Thanks muchly; I'm now quite curious about this, but don't have time and wakefulness to spend more time on it tonight.

I'm confused: you're saying that a member of the House who is elected to the Senate is given seniority in the Senate, and committee assigmnents because of their service in the House?

Not as a matter of course, no.

I see, googling about, that Wikipedia says Sanders had such an arrangement in some way, but I can't find another source, on a quick search, that speaks to this, and there's no cite or detail in Wikipedia.

Unfortunately that is my sole source for this. I called the DC office of Senator Sanders but the aide I spoke with could not verify it one way or another. I gave him my email address and asked if he could look into it for me.

"Unfortunately that is my sole source for this. I called the DC office of Senator Sanders but the aide I spoke with could not verify it one way or another. I gave him my email address and asked if he could look into it for me."

Thanks. Feel free to drop me an email if you get an answer; I remain curious as to what precedent was or wasn't set.

If there was a mandate in this election, I think it was to change the political tone in Washington, DC. For that reason alone, Lieberman should not be punished.

I am NOT a Joe Lieberman fan...

In Joe Lieberman's defense, however:
In 2004, John Kerry's first choice for VP was - John McCain.

Nobody vilified John Kerry then - nor should anyone vilify Lieberman now.
We won - there’s work to be done!

The comments to this entry are closed.