Take Away Lieberman’s Gavel: Kagro on the Daily Kos

I follow this piece with a brief tentative caveat of my own.


Lieberman with a gavel: unacceptable.

by Kagro X
The Daily Kos, Fri Nov 07, 2008

“He’s with us on everything but the war.”

This is it. This is what it all boiled down to for Democratic Senators who were asked why we had to tolerate television’s number one go-to guy for Democrat bashing, Senator Joe Lieberman, as a part of the Senate Democratic Caucus and as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“He’s with us on everything but the war.”

Of course, that turned out not to be true. Didn’t it? It turned out that he was with us on everything but… everything.

Joe Lieberman endorsed and campaigned for John McCain and Sarah Palin for president and vice president.

“Everything but the war?” Really?

Does anyone recall what it was we heard from our strategists every time Hill Democrats backed off, compromised, or otherwise were forced to eat shit during the 110th Congress, even though we held the majority?

Didn’t we have to continue to fund the war they were elected to end, so that we could keep a viable shot at the White House in 2008?

Didn’t we have to end a 30 year moratorium on offshore drilling, even though we knew it could not only not directly solve the immediate problem of high gas prices, but would only incentivize the continuation of our ass-backward energy “policies,” so that we could keep a viable shot at the White House in 2008?

Didn’t we have to agree to go along with the ridiculous retroactive immunity plan for the telecom giants who sold us out to the government and allowed the Bush/Cheney “administration” to conduct unchecked, warrantless domestic surveillance (that ultimately resulted in NSA technicians swapping recordings of hot phone sex chats between American soldiers, diplomats and business people and their spouses at home), so that we could keep a viable shot at the White House in 2008?

And didn’t we have to plod through two years worth of oversight over a panoply of some of the most egregious violations of law and civil liberties in recent memory, step by torturous step, always reining ourselves in from doing what we all knew was really warranted, so that we could keep a viable shot at the White House in 2008?

Why, yes we did.

And Joe Lieberman worked his hardest to deny us that shot at the White House in 2008. He actually worked for the other side.

That’s not “with us on everything but the war.” That’s against us on everything there is. The whole enchilada.

“Elections have consequences,” as they say. Joe Lieberman bet it all on the wrong horse, and there should be no margin for that.

The chairmanship of a Senate committee is a leadership position, and leadership positions entail responsibility. Lieberman has not only flamboyantly bucked the leadership and refused that responsibility, but has tried his damnedest to destroy everything for which the leadership has been working, sacrificing and yes, bearing our searing criticism for over the last two years. Purely as a matter of self-respect, no Democratic Senator ought to allow him to keep the gavel.

But the decision falls first and foremost to the members of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. These are the Democratic Senators who guide the decision-making on committee assignments and chairmanships. And let me tell you, serving on the steering committee is itself a matter of leadership and responsibility to the caucus, and to Democrats government-wide. These Senators know that they have to make the tough votes that no one wants to make, but are their responsibility as Democratic leaders. And they know the consequences — or what are supposed to be the consequences, anyway — of not holding up their end of the bargain. A member of the steering committee who regularly bucked the leadership, not to mention worked actively against the interests of the leadership, would find themselves being shown rather briskly to the door, to say the least.

Each of the members of the steering committee, in other words, is keenly aware of their responsibilities as a member of the leadership team. They should be equally aware, then, of the iniquity of their pulling their own weight in order to remain in leadership, while Lieberman freelances in direct opposition to their work, and is coddled for his defiance.

In all likelihood, the decision on Lieberman will be made during the upcoming lame duck Congressional session, scheduled to begin on November 17th.

These are the members of the Steering and Outreach Committee who will be on the front lines of that decision making process:

Debbie Stabenow, Michigan – Chairwoman (202) 224-4822
Harry Reid, Nevada (202) 224-3542
John Kerry, Massachusetts (202) 224-2742
Daniel Inouye, Hawaii (202) 224-3934
Robert Byrd, West Virginia (202) 224-3954
Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts (202) 224-4543
Joe Biden, Delaware (202) 224-5042
Patrick Leahy, Vermont (202) 224-4242
Chris Dodd, Connecticut (202) 224-2823
Tom Harkin, Iowa (202) 224-3254
Max Baucus, Montana (202) 224-2651
Richard Durbin, Illinois (202) 224-2152
Kent Conrad, North Dakota (202) 224-2043
Carl Levin, Michigan (202) 224-6221
Herbert Kohl, Wisconsin (202) 224-5653
Barbara Boxer, California (202) 224-3553
Hillary Clinton, New York (202) 224-4451
Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico (202) 224-5521
Mark Pryor, Arkansas (202) 224-2353

Please let them know how you feel about letting Lieberman work so hard and so actively to oppose Democratic initiatives, but still getting to keep his leadership position.

Then let us know what you hear back. We’ll keep a running tally of which Democratic Senators think it’s fair for Lieberman to destroy everything they’ve been working for, and all the sacrifices they’ve made and still keep his position of power.


ABS: Would it make any sense to do a quid pro quo with Lieberman, requiring from him –as the cost of keeping his chairmanship– his promise to vote with the Democratic leadership on cloture every time out?

My guess has been that the Democrats are now waiting to find out how much they might need Lieberman on shutting down a filibuster.

I also wonder, however, how important that 60-vote business is, since the Dems might not all hold together but they might also get Republican moderates to help them beat any given filibuster. So perhaps the Lieberman promise, even if it could be extracted, does not have an importance that is both great and predictable.

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7 Responses to “Take Away Lieberman’s Gavel: Kagro on the Daily Kos”

  1. Howard Norris Says:

    I can understand the desire for a politician to work with members of the other party in order to get things done. But the Repugnicans didn’t feel that way, and they got a lot done. What I don’t understand is why the Democrats are bending over backwards to not offend the “loyal” opposition when the “loyal” opposition clearly doesn’t give a damn. Neither does Joe Lieberman. The hell with him and the hell with the system under the circumstances. Ultimately the Democrats work for the people, and it’s time they started acting like it. That is behavior the people will recognize, approve of, and reward. And now, after eight years of Bush, now is the time to do the right thing. Stop worrying about Lieberman. He’s a putz, and we don’t need him.

  2. Todd Waymon Says:

    I’ll play the drum!

  3. Larry Says:

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Andy.


  4. Monte Says:

    I think Lieberman is a thorn in the foot of the Democratic party. His vote, regardless of promises, cannot be relied upon and he should be dumped immediately.

  5. Andrew Bard Schmookler Says:

    Here’s an article from Huffington indicating that Obama doesn’t want Lieberman to leave the Democratic fold. The picture seems to be a bit complex, and/or not altogether clarified:

    President-elect Barack Obama has informed party officials that he wants Joe Lieberman to continue caucusing with the Democrats in the 111th Congress, Senate aides tell the Huffington Post.

    Obama’s decision could tie the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been negotiating to remove Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security and Government Reform committee while keeping him within the caucus. Lieberman has insisted that he will split from the Democrats if his homeland security position is stripped.

    Aides to the president-elect did not return requests for comment. Senate officials were unclear whether Obama would be comfortable with Lieberman maintaining his current committee post.

    Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he would welcome Lieberman into the GOP, though he has little to offer in terms of committee assignments.

    If Lieberman were to continue caucusing with the Democrats without being punished for his campaign conduct — Democrats say he broke a promise not to campaign negatively against Obama — the progressive community will undoubtedly be up in arms. For Obama, however, the move may be a shrewd gesture towards reconciliation, in the process taking a potentially taxing political fight off the table.

    Fellow Connecticut Senate Chris Dodd, who has spoken out in favor of Lieberman remaining in the party, explained as much to reporters on Friday:

    “What does Barack Obama want?… He’s talked about reconciliation, healing, bringing people together. I don’t think he’d necessarily want to spend the first month of this president-elect period, this transition period, talking about a Senate seat, particularly if someone is willing to come forward and is willing to be a member of your family in the caucus in that sense.”

    A Democrat close to Lieberman, meanwhile, said he thought that keeping Lieberman in the fold “would be a good move for Obama as a way to make real his promise of new politics, a less partisan Washington and more unity. He would do so at some risk. Obviously there is a liberal wing of the party that wants Joe punished… ”

    There is, perhaps, one measure by which Democratic leadership can still reconcile the competing realities of Lieberman’s future in the caucus. One Democratic aide said that the party was considering letting the Connecticut Senator keep his post at homeland security but forcing him to relinquish one or both of his spots on two more high-profile committees: Armed Services and Environment & Public Works.

    Lieberman is in line for leadership roles in both of those committees should the current chairs leave their posts. On Armed Services, the two senators ahead of him are Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd. On Environment and Public Works, current chair Barbara Boxer may face a tough reelection campaign in 2010 and second in line, Sen. Max Baucus, already heads another committee.

    If Democratic leadership were to keep Lieberman on homeland security but impede any chance of ascending to these other posts, that may be enough to placate progressive activists demanding punishment while keeping the Connecticut Senator in the caucus.

  6. Jim Z. Says:

    Politics is, as always, the art of the possible. Obama, and America, need every tool at their disposal to accomplish a hefty agenda against (still) steep odds.

    As much as I find Leiberman hugely distasteful, the Senate leadership needs to consider Obama’s wishes.

    There are plenty of Republicans who actively campaigned against Obama, yet the Democratic Party willl need to work with them. Perhaps the way forward is to consider Lieberman in the same light.

  7. Steve Says:

    Joe Lieberman can’t play the fence the way he’s done in the past and for several reasons. He’s pushing 70 and these are committees that require vigorous focus, not to mention a kind of energy and enthusiasm many center to right politicians simply don’t possess. There’s a perfect red bow on the Environment & Public Works committee Lieberman can go gracefully into retirement with.

    Progressives are in a position where they don’t have to recruit towards the center-right. And, there’s a touch of openness set by Obama and those who surround him, which is a bewilderment for even some seasoned professionals. Many will simply find this too uncomfortable of an adjustment, especially in the elder career political structure. It takes a sea change to ride a perfect storm.

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