Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

February 22, 2007

Hit The Road, Joe

Joe Lieberman throws another veiled threat:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico on Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties but suggested that Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind [...]

"I have no desire to change parties," Lieberman said in a telephone interview. "If that ever happens, it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don't feel comfortable with."
Thanks for nothing to the Connecticut voters who re-elected him and believed his empty rhetoric. I hope you like how he'll willingly switch alliances just so we'll get stuck in Iraq forever.

This is not the first time Lieberman played coy about switching sides; he clearly enjoys holding it over the Democrats' heads. As the Youtube video clip above shows, he even implied he would vote for a Republican in '08. "Independent Democrat" my foot.

Yet the Democratic leadership keeps enabling him:

So far, Lieberman is using his clout mostly in ways that discomfit his fellow Democrats, while his relationship with Republicans has involved more collaboration than coercion. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Bush's State of the Union proposal for a bipartisan terrorism panel was redundant, Lieberman, who supported the idea, privately sent Reid a letter saying he was "upset." Within days, Reid backed down and negotiated the panel's makeup with the White House. And last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again.
For crying out loud, is it really that big of a loss to the Democrats if he walks? Not really:

If Lieberman were to caucus with the Republicans, they would still not take full control of the Senate, despite Vice President Dick Cheney's ability to break 50-50 ties. This is because of a little-known Senate organizing resolution, passed in January, which gives Democrats control of the Senate and committee chairmanships until the beginning of the 111th Congress.

What's the difference between now and 2001? A small but important distinction. When the 107th Congress was convened on January 3, 2001, Al Gore was still the Vice President and would be for another two-and-a-half weeks. Therefore, because of the Senate's 50-50 tie, Democrats had nominal control of the chamber when the organizing resolution came to a vote. With Dick Cheney soon to come in, however, Democrats allowed Republicans to control the Senate in return for a provision on the organizing resolution that allowed for a reorganization of the chamber if any member should switch parties, which Jeffords did five months later. There was no such clause in the current Senate's organizing resolution.
David Sirota elaborates:

Democrats control the House, and as we’ve seen on the Iraq debate, a narrow majority in the Senate effectively stops that institution from doing anything. Thus, we have basic gridlock right now. Additionally, most believe that President Bush will veto any good legislation that manages to get out of Congress right now - meaning this gridlock is extra guaranteed by the White House. Throwing the Senate to the Republicans by one vote (which, by the way, a Lieberman switch would not necessarily accomplish, thanks to gray areas in Senate rules) wouldn’t change this gridlocked situation at all. Democrats would still have the House and filibuster-ready Senators to stop anything awful from getting to Bush’s desk. Meanwhile, Democrats would still have investigatory/oversight power from their House chairmen [...]

The politics of the situation would be terrific for Democrats... They could pass their entire agenda through the House and then blame the Republican Party in the Senate and White House for stopping it (remember how the GOP used Jeffords’ switch to rev up its steamroller with the viciously effective attacks of “obstructionism” in 2002?) This is especially advantageous because the 2008 Senate races look quite favorable to Democrats, meaning they have a good shot of taking back the upper chamber by way more than the one vote Lieberman represents.
The truth is, Lieberman needs the Democratic Party more than it needs him. Not only will he lose his seniority and committee chairmanships if he switches, he would also become irrelevant in a Senate which, with 22 Republicans and just 12 Democrats up for re-election, stands a good chance of becoming strongly Democratic in '08.

I say call the bluff of this power-hungry, self-serving man. Don't let his narcissistic posturing hijack the important agenda of stopping the madness that is the Iraq war.

So go ahead, Joe. Hit the road and don't ever come back.

posted at 9:21 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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