Reasons To Dump Lieberman

While I think Barack Obama is right (and if anyone is kidding them self that Obama is not calling the shot on this, well . . ) to look for a way to neutralize Joe Lieberman while keeping him in the Dem caucus, there is certainly a strong argument for not keeping him. Ed Kilgore makes it here. And Rachel Maddow gave the brief last night on her show:

I admit I am more concerned with the John Brennans and Cass Susnteins surrounding Obama than this, but hey, maybe folks are right to pressure on this. It would be more interesting I think if they actually pressured the guy who is calling the shot- Barack Obama.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    The core problem is definition and framing (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 07:26:46 AM EST
    as is too often the case.

    Everyone, it seems, is calling for forgiveness for Lie-berman.  The problem is twofold.

    First, it's not forgiveness.  It's ratification that's going on here.  Lawyers know what ratification is - it's a post hoc acceptance and taking on as one's own the act of another which might have been ultra vires or exceeding that other's authority when done.  

    Second, forgiveness requires not only that the wrongdoer show genuine remorse and make some effort to change their ways going forward, but also that the wrongdoer go to the people he's wronged, and ask for their forgiveness.  When the wronged person goes to the wrongdoer and offers "forgiveness", it's not being magnanimous.  It's the injured person showing their fealty to the wrongdoer.  As some have pointed out, Lie-berman is not seeking to make right what he has done, and has not undertaken to apologize for or even recognize the wrongfulness of his behavior.  Rather, he is seeking to maintain and enhance his power.  Remember, he did absolutely nothing to investigate or oversee either Homeland Security or the Executive Branch when he had his committee back in 2006-2008;  he can send out a flurry of subpoenas any time he wants to keep this Administration in line.  

    And he will.  Count on hearing his whiny sanctimony time and again when the neo-cons don't get their way.

    Obama is Lieberman's b*tch, and he's showing it.  And the Hope of Change We Can Believe In (and, for that matter, Obama's presidency) ended about Thursday of last week, when Lieberman walked out of that meeting with Harry Reid with his head still attached to his shoulders.

    And you'll see all of it, the minute we find that, um, say for instance, that withdrawl from Iraq ain't going to happen.  Because Iraq was Lieberman's and McCain's policy, and Lieberman wasted no time in telling everyone about it, when Bush was carrying it out and it looked good, back about 2003.

    And, for those who think otherwise, they probably also pooh-poohed my diary back in early March titled "Obamamania = Joementum". In it, I both cataloged and analyzed how Obama was really Lie-berman's voice.  You should go back and read it and see whether I was prescient then, and how much.

    Nail on the head (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:21:50 AM EST
    you've hit here.  Ratification.

    It's the identical reason why there should have been a serious attempt to impeach Bush.  With Bush, there are actual legal ramifications down the road on all kinds of questions for not impeaching him.  With Lieberman, it's purely in the political realm.

    But in both cases, it's not only ratification, it's flat-out capitulation.  I don't get how Reid and Obama can have any hope of any kind of party discipline when the chips are down on important issues if they let this guy escape with no serious consequences.


    Foolish (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:09:21 AM EST
    I, too,
    am more concerned with the John Brennans and Cass Susnteins surrounding Obama than this.

    But I do think that Obama and the Senate leadership are being foolish on this point. It's as nearly a certain thing as possible that Lieberman will use his position to create obstacles for both the President and the Congressional leadership, and that he will do so at the most inconvenient times, and above all, that he will be praised for his principled, non-partisan independence in doing so. They will get no sympathy from me when that happens. It will be their own fault.

    Yeah but you know... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Thanin on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:04:10 AM EST
    theres some major politics behind the scene on this.  Personally I think theyre approaching this like theyve got him by the short hairs now and can keep him contained.  

    I say this because Obama isnt exactly all smiles and sunshine when it comes to the gamesmanship.  Just look at his political history, as it was pointed out many times here.


    This is what puzzles me (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:27:22 AM EST
    A lot of good people got thrown hard under the bus during the campaign for small errors in tactics (cf Wes Clark), and yet there doesn't seem to be any boot in the backside in the offing for Lieberman.

    He doesn't need to be contained.  The Dems truly don't need him.  He will vote his conscience our way on social issues anyway and with the Republicans on foreign policy anyway.

    He will never vote for cloture on a GOP filibuster, no matter what.  Matter of principle for Saint Joe, doncha know.

    I don't see what's gained by coddling him or what's to lose if he's treated as the renegade he is.  He will lose his seat one way or another the next time around anyway.


    Oh I agree with you on this... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Thanin on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 11:33:02 AM EST
    although Im unsure at this point that he'll even vote liberal on social issues.  But yeah Id be more than happy to have him out, period.  I was just speculating as to why anyone would be backing him and the reasons I gave are the only ones that make sense, to me anyway.

    One thing though is that his popularity is absolutely tanked in CT with Dems and independents.  Hopefully this time they'll do it right and the problem will eventually take care of itself.


    I hope you're right (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 02:03:54 PM EST
    but I can't see what can be wrung out of him that does us any good, so why even negotiate with him or threaten him?  Just boot him the hell out and let him go play with the Republicans until he loses office in the next election.

    And the issue, honestly, is less about Lieberman himself than it is about Scribe's point above, which is essentially ratification, and my addition, capitulation, on completely intolerable behavior.

    IOW, it's the precedent and the example to others, not Holy Joe himself, that's the problem down the road.  Better believe all the Blue Dog Dems. are watching very, very carefully to see what signals are given about what they can get away with.


    No Bush Enablers (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by liberalone on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:57:46 AM EST
    Joe has gotta go.  IMO, his lack of oversight with respect to DHS handling of Katrina is grounds enough for a good booting.  Let him whine.  Let him try to filibuster.  If Democrats cannot find a few Republicans to end a Lieberman filibuster, then they don't deserve their seats.

    Joe does not represent Democrats of Connecticut let alone the majority of the party.  Why allow him to have a chairmanship at all?

    Amen (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by bluegal on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:16:01 AM EST
    Katrina is what did it for me. He lied about investigating and when it came time he said he didn't want to play "gotcha politics."

    The fact that we are even discussing this and he wasn't immediately stripped of his chairmanship last Thursday is just absurd.  Joe is arrogant and not to be trusted and must lose his chairmanship.


    So now the Executive Branch Controls the (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by RussTC3 on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:44:33 AM EST
    Legislative Branch?  Because that's exactly what you're suggesting by saying Obama is calling the shots.  Um, Checks and Balances anyone?

    Actually, that's not entirely what you're suggesting, you're actually saying that the soon-to-be leader of the Executive Branch controls what the Legislative Branch is doing.

    That's even worse.

    Does Obama want Lieberman to stay in the caucus?  Apparently, yes.  Does he want him to remain as chair of the Homeland Security Committee?  Unclear.  Is it his choice? NO.  

    The Senate can do whatever they want with Lieberman, regardless of what Obama wants (who won't even be in the caucus by the time they vote on Lieberman next week).  

    The Democratic Caucus knows what's best.  If Lieberman retains his gavel next week but does something stupid in the future, then they'll punish him further.

    Isn't.. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 01:37:46 PM EST
    ...the fact that Lieberman actively campaigned for the Democratic nominee's opponent reason enough to boot him? I mean, what else does he have to do to warrant being booted form his chairmanship?

    I think it would be most prudent (none / 0) (#2)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 07:41:01 AM EST
    to wait and see how Ga, Ak, and Mn Senate races pan out-- b/c if Lieberman is the differance between getting or not getting a 60 majority, then keep him.

    So tired (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 07:59:53 AM EST
    This whole 60-seat mania is really tired. Having a 60-member caucus doesn't give the Democrats a whit more power than 59-, 58- or even 51-.

    Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) can still try to mount filibusters, and if they can get 41 votes on that particular issue they will have a filibuster. We have seen time and again in the current Congress that, while Republicans maintain strong caucus discipline, they can always pick off a significant number of Democrats (in both houses) on just about any controversial issue.

    What makes matters worse is that the Senate Majority Leader has, in most cases, made filibusters just about as painless as possible for Republicans. If we're serious about counteracting Republican obstruction, we need to look elsewhere than the vaunted 60-seat caucus.

    Kagro has had several excellent articles on this topic recently. I particularly recommend this one.


    Part of it is (none / 0) (#8)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:20:23 AM EST
    it allows GOP an easy out with their special interest groups... they can just shrug and say the Dems have a filibuster-proof majority.  Plus, as BTD has mentioned, I would get Lieberman to agree in a public way that he wouldn't join a GOP sponsored filibuster.  

    Yes and no (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:32:03 AM EST
    Good point. Beyond that, it also puts Democrats on the hook for actually implementing constructive policies. The mass media will hammer them mercilessly for any failures to achieve their goals, no matter how obstructive Republicans are.

    But I disagree with you and BTD on extracting promises from Lieberman. For one thing, it is for all practical purposes unenforceable. And if there's one thing you can count on, it's that when (it's only a matter of time) Lieberman decides to break ranks he will make it a matter of pride and principle, in which pretense he will be sustained by the same mass media.


    Yeah, I see that (none / 0) (#14)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:41:07 AM EST
    Maybe the best tact would be for Obama to take him our of the Senate and put him in his cabinet in an area where they both agree. This would allow them both to save face and make Obama look really good, Lincolnesque.

    Sounds like a case of "failing up" (none / 0) (#30)
    by sj on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 12:49:10 PM EST
    He's a snake of a Senator so let's send him to the Cabinet!

    I don't see any reason why saving Joe's face should be the overarching consideration.  I don't mean humiliate him unduly, but frankly speaking he didn't care what message it sent when he campaigned against the Democratic nominee.

    And for that we should put him in the Cabinet? I'm thinking no.


    The math doesn't really enter into it. (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by LarryInNYC on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:05:00 AM EST
    I don't see that there will be a material difference in the Senate even if Leiberman is the difference between 59 and 60.  The one vote that matters -- for leadership -- is the one vote that defines caucus membership.  On other issues I doubt they'll hold all 60 Dems for almost any given issue, and if it's even close they'll have a good shot at picking up three or so Republicans to support them.

    I'm not sure how much Lieberman's actual voting would change if he were turfed out of his committee chairmanship, but I'd wager on a lot of issues he'd still vote the same way.  Those issues where he's right, he'd still vote the correct position.  And those issues where he's wrong, I doubt he'll change his vote just because he's allowed to keep his chairmanship.


    You're probably right (none / 0) (#13)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:37:56 AM EST
    Maybe the best solution is for Obama to appoint him to head up the EPA or the Interior... an area where Lieberman is pretty progressive.  That would solve the problem and get him out of the Senate.

    An ambassadorial post is best. (none / 0) (#28)
    by LarryInNYC on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:31:35 AM EST
    I've been thinking Syria myself, but there's plenty of other places that might be appropriate.  Maybe Norway.  They're big on Quislings there.

    Well, that won't happen (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 07:52:36 AM EST
    because none of those races will be decided until December.  That's said with the possible exception of Alaska because if Begich continues picking up at the rate he did yesterday, he will be outside the recount window soon.

    The caucus vote is scheduled for next week.


    OK (none / 0) (#7)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:17:37 AM EST
    I'm not sure how the caucus votes work or if you can prevent a Senator from voting for your caucus, but assuming there is some mechanism to keep him in the caucus, I would say to err on the side of a larger Dem majority and keep him in... as disgusting as it sounds, it would probably be best to keep him.

    He is, of course, always welcome (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:36:00 AM EST
    ... to vote with the caucus for purposes of organizing the new Senate. The only question is whether his demands for seniority and position should be acceded to.

    I say, "no". And if he is not granted his wishes it will be his decision whether to walk.


    I agree with the case... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:30:53 AM EST
    ... for taking away Lieberman's chairmanship. But I also think that it's smart to try to find other ways to pacify him and keep him in the caucus. The chairmanship is a reward for being a good Democrat, and Lieberman clearly has not been one in the last two years. But I think Obama understands that it's important not to send a message that people who share his foreign policy views are unwelcome in the party.

    So glad you were not physically harmed. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Angel on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:33:01 AM EST
    Ask your landlord to install a security system with glass breakage sensors.  

    Social Liberal (none / 0) (#15)
    by koshembos on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 08:53:07 AM EST
    Lieberman may be disgusting and a pain in the rear, but he is more liberal the the blue dogs and a strong supporter of the unions.

    I think that security and wars are false interests of the country; we are not in danger and once Bush is gone we can bring things into perspective. Social issues, however,are actually the real issues we should be interested in.

    He will vote his conscience (none / 0) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:30:59 AM EST
    on those, no matter what happens to him vis a vis the caucus and his chairmanship.  He is utterly immune, obviously, to party discipline.  That's the whole problem.

    I may be crucified her for this post (none / 0) (#17)
    by befuddledvoter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:00:03 AM EST
    but I do not want just one voice in our congress. We need two sides to be argued.  Usually the truth and the better position lies somewhere in between.  Congress should represent all Americans, not just those who support Obama's views.  

    Totally agree (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by liberalone on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:07:14 AM EST
    I agree that we need good opposition and even dissenting voices within the party, but this is not the issue.  The Democratic party is filled with dissenters.  I simply do not feel that this particular "independent" Democrat deserves a chairmanship as he has done and said too much that is completely against the party as a whole.

    I feel that Lieberman has been an enabler of dangerously wrong Bush policies against the will of his constituency and against the will of the majority of Democrats.  These are not actions that I want to see rewarded or ratified.


    I also agree (none / 0) (#21)
    by befuddledvoter on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:26:30 AM EST
    with your post.  Lieberman did not represent his constituency at all.  He is not just a dissenting voice among many.  He should not be rewarded.  Time for a change.  

    Yawn, (none / 0) (#19)
    by bocajeff on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 09:13:15 AM EST
    For an irrelevant Senator, BTD sure does post a lot about him.

    His chairmanship sure isnt irrelevant. (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Thanin on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 10:00:51 AM EST
    The real issue is: (none / 0) (#33)
    by Natal on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 03:22:28 PM EST
    Did he do a good job as chairman and the committee accomplished a lot? It's said he's never held a hearing and compared to the equivalent House Committee has done virtually nothing. He should lose his chairmanships and perks due to incompetence. Job performance is the criteria and he's failed miserably.

    Obama (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ellis on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 04:40:24 PM EST
    It would be more interesting I think if they actually pressured the guy who is calling the shot- Barack Obama.

    Obama has no business or right to call any shots concerning the Senate. If senators allow him to do so, they are abdicating their constitutional duties.

    If Obama is calling the shots on this, the challenges should go to senators not the president-elect. The only power or influence the president has over senatorial decisions is that which senators allow him. He (the president) deserves none. That's fundamental to the separation of powers.