Joe Lieberman Keeps Chairmanship

I wonder what is going on with the Democrats allowing Joe Lieberman to keep the chairmanship of the important Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. I can envision two different scenarios.

In the first scenario, the Democrats are eyeing the magic 60 filibuster-proof majority and realize that they may achieve this if Lieberman continues to caucus with Democrats.

In the second, President-elect Obama has issued back-channel communications to the Senate leadership and has stated in plain terms that Lieberman should stay.

Personally, I think the second is the likely scenario. If this is indeed the case, I give credit to Obama for taking the high road.

It is interesting to recount how Lieberman came to be an Independent. He was, of course, Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 and was the first Jewish candidate on a major ticket. At the same time, he ran for the Senate and was re-elected. In the 2006 senate race, Lieberman was challenged in the democratic primary by Ned Lamont. Primaries are often dominated by partisans, and the Connecticut democratic partisans, the progressives if you will, found plenty to complain about Lieberman. According to Wikipedia, the following were some of the reasons for lack of support for Lieberman:

  • his opposition to affirmative action
  • his opposition to a Connecticut state law that would require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims
  • his opposition to same-sex marriage
  • his membership in the bipartisan Gang of 14
  • his support of Florida governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case
  • his initial willingness to compromise on Social Security privatization
  • his alliances with Republicans and attacks on other Democrats
  • his rhetoric, which is believed by many Democrats to often support Republican talking points

And, of course, there is the Iraq war. Lieberman is rather hawkish, was a supporter of the war and the Patriot Act, and took some to task for what he believed was inappropriate criticism of the President during wartime. The 2006 elections were a difficult time for republicans and I recall paying some interest to what was happening in Connecticut. And I don’t recall it quite the way that Wikipedia describes. Instead, I recall it as almost exclusively about the Iraq war. This view is somewhat supported by an article in today’s Washington Post, which indicates that Lamon’t campaign focused almost exclusively on Bush and Iraq.

Lamont won the primary and so Lieberman entered the senate race as a 3rd party candidate under the ‘Connecticut for Lieberman‘ label. Lieberman won the general election for the Senate with, I assume, support from moderate democrats, independents, and even moderate Republicans.

And just a couple months ago, we had Lieberman playing a supporting role in the candidacy of Republican John McCain, including a speech at the Republican Convention that was critical of Barack Obama. There was even some speculation that McCain could tap Lieberman for the VP slot. So, it seems evident why the Democrats might be hostile to Lieberman.

The Post notes that Vermont’s senators, Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders, both opposed allowing Lieberman to retain the chairmanship. Let’s see, a Deadhead and a Democratic Socialist. That right there are as good a reasons as I can think of for allowing Lieberman to remain.

One Response to “Joe Lieberman Keeps Chairmanship”

  1. tiilikainen says:

    Any Democrat who exasperates and confounds the Democratic leadership has my full confidence. Well done, Joltin’ Joe.