Just Say No — To Joe

November 8, 2008

Since there are probably quite a few blue dogs and concern trolls (as well as at least one rather confused Democrat named Evan Bayh) out there ready to whine for magnanimity in dealing with Joe “Obama’s a Marxist” Lieberman, here’s Ezra Klein with a very practical argument for giving the sanctimonious clown his walking papers:

Lieberman wants to keep his committee as a hedge against retribution. So long as he controls Governmental Affairs, he’s not the sort of guy Democrats want on a warpath against them. Elsewhere, they can take him seriously, or screw him over, largely as they please, which most would probably find a preferable alternative. But I basically side with the “kick him out” folks. Unlike Arlen Specter, whose minor heterodoxies ended with a pathetic show of groveling and a solemn promise to never, ever, in a million years, ever say an unkind word about one of Bush’s judicial nominees, Lieberman’s major betrayal of the Democratic Party has been accompanied by a promise to bolt to the Republicans Party if he’s not sufficiently stroked. That’s not the sort of guy you want in a position of oversight.

As for those who might think Joe the Ho is no longer in a position to do any real harm, let Steve Benen lay out the facts on the ground:

This seems to be routinely overlooked, but take a moment to consider what the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs actually does: it’s the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It’s an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president’s administration.

As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman’s House counterpart — Rep. Henry Waxman’s Oversight Committee — was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress.

And yet, now Lieberman acts as if keeping this chairmanship is the single most important part of his public life. Why would he be so desperate to keep the gavel of a committee he hasn’t used? I’ll let you in on a secret: he wants to start using the power of this committee against Obama.

Lieberman didn’t want to hold Bush accountable, but he seems exceedingly anxious to keep the committee that would go after Obama with a vengeance, effectively becoming a Waxman-like figure — holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching investigations against the Democratic president.

Lieberman doesn’t care about “reconciliation,” he cares about going after a Democratic administration. Why else would he fight diligently to be chairman of one committee instead of another?

Lieberman was worse than useless as Al Gore’s running mate, spent the next eight years sucking up to the worst president in U.S. history and did his best to undermine Obama’s campaign. This election was about clearing the bums out. It’s the job of Connecticut voters to decide if they want to stick with the man who lied to their faces in order to keep his Senate seat, but meanwhile let’s follow Josh Orton’s advice on how to push Harry Reid into doing the right thing.

Heave Ho, Joe

November 7, 2008

I don’t know what’s funnier: the most batshit elements of the conservative movement preparing to go on a purity purge of the GOP’s ranks, or an aide for Joe Lieberman suggesting that Joe the Ho might bolt the Democratic caucus and play in the Republican sandbox if the turncoat senator gets stripped of his chairmanshp on the Homeland Security Committee.  

Gosh, Joe, whatcha gonna do? Threaten to call the Democratic presidential nominee a Marxist and actively campaign for his Republican competitor? Whoops, already did that. Stick a knife in the back of a fellow senator who helped save your hash when Ned Lamont had you on the ropes in the Connecticut primary? Dag, already did that, too. Lie to your constituents by pretending to be a “centrist” in favor of withdrawal from Iraq, then turn into one of Bush’s most vocal warwhores? Uh oh, wait a minute . . . 

Lieberman shouldn’t just be encouraged to go over to the Republican side; he should be loaded into a circus cannon and fired at Mitch McConnell’s office door. Josh Marshall takes a slightly less punitive position:

I don’t think it’s necessary to expel him from the caucus. And perhaps there are some perks of seniority he could be allowed to retain. But allowing him to keep his chairmanship is simply unacceptable. It’s a position the Democrats hold because of the joint efforts of Democrats across the country pulling together to support Democratic policies and ideals and elect Democratic candidates. For Lieberman to enjoy the fruits of that labor after working so hard to stymie that effort would be unconscionable.

Lieberman says his position was one of conscience. And out of generosity more than reason, I’m willing to believe that. But as he so often says, you have to take responsibility for your actions.

And the simple fact is the Democrats don’t need Joe Lieberman. He’s not in a position to call anything ‘unacceptable’. The Democrats didn’t get to 60 votes or at least it now seems highly unlikely — which was his only hope to have any continued relevance or position to bargain from. And the truth is that filibuster-busting votes are often made on an ad-hoc basis rather than on a party line. In any case, there’d be no more reason to trust he’d be there as a 60th vote as a Democrat than as a Republican.

Sen. Reid should take a cue from the one his fictional predecessor once heard in telling Lieberman how it’s going to be: “My offer is this. Nothing.”

If we’re going to be quoting from movies (the second Godfather movie in Marshall’s case), let me paraphrase a line from Kill Bill in response to the news that Joe the Ho is considering his options: “Bitch, you have no options.”