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Leahy Speaks Out Against Lieberman Chairmanship


Sen. Patrick Leahy, center, flanked by Vermont's congressional delegation. (Glenn Russell/Associated Press)

By Paul Kane
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today announced his opposition to Sen. Joe Lieberman retaining a key committee chairmanship, becoming the first Democrat to publicly declare his intention to vote against the Connecticut senator next week when the caucus considers punishing him for his high-profile support of the GOP presidential ticket.

"Every senator will have to vote the way he or she believes they should. I am one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did," Leahy said in an interview on Vermont Public Radio.

Senate Democrats are scheduled to convene at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to re-elect their leadership team and consider any changes to the roster of committee chairmen. Usually a perfunctory meeting, it has become a high drama as Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats have privately tried to strip Lieberman of the chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee because of his support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the presidential campaign and his public accusations that Barack Obama was "an eloquent young man" not prepared to be president.

But momentum for penalizing Lieberman has waned this week, particularly after Obama publicly declared his support for keeping Lieberman in the Democratic caucus without taking sides on the chairmanship dispute.

Lieberman -- who was reelected in 2006 as an independent but caucuses with Democrats -- has rejected stepping aside as homeland security chairman, pointing out his expertise on the committee as a creator of the Department of Homeland Security. He told reporters last week that he would consider his "options," which many took as a threat to cross the aisle and caucus with Republicans.

Other Senate Democrats, including Minority Whip Richard Durbin (Ill.) and Christopher Dodd (Conn.), have also signaled that they would prefer some compromise that keeps Lieberman in the party, rather than risk losing his vote to Republicans.

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary committee, spoke up today for the wing of the party that is willing to risk losing Lieberman, particularly given that the additional six seats Democrats picked up on election day will provide them with a minimum of 57 seats next year. Three more races remain undecided.

Lieberman's criticisms of Obama "went beyond the pale," Leahy said. "I thought they were not fair. I thought they were not legitimate. I thought that they perpetuated some of these horrible myths that were being run about Senator Obama. I would feel that, had I done something similar, that I would not be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee."

Leahy's full comments on Vermont Public Radio follow:

Every senator will have to vote the way he or she believes they should. I am one who does not feel that somebody should be rewarded with a major chairmanship after doing what he did. I never ask people, well you must vote for this person or that person. Everybody has make up their mind. But I felt that some of his attacks that he was involved in against Senator Obama -- whom I did support... I was one of the very first in the Congress to support him -- I thought they went way beyond the pale. I thought they were not fair, I thought that they were not legitimate. I thought that they perpetuated some of these horrible myths that were being run about Senator Obama. I would feel that had I done something similar that I would not be chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress.

Posted at 5:09 PM ET on Nov 14, 2008  | Category:  Democratic Party
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Comments

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I congratulate the Democratic party and President-elect Obama for keeping their promise to abandon partisan wrangling and reach across the aisle for unity and the sake of this great country. As a Republican, I admit to voting for McCain, but now that the election is decided I will look forward to seeing what Mr. Obama can do to heal the rift that has divided us. This first action gives me hope that it all wasn't just "campaign speak" and that Mr. Obama is truely interested in bringing us back to unity. I was concerned about some of his statements and associations during the campaign, but I will admit that I'm starting to like the guy.

Posted by: EddietheInfidel | November 18, 2008 9:36 PM

That's so dumb

Lieberman has been a good senator and a great American

http://jumpinginpools.blogspot.com/2008/11/lieberman-out.html

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | November 17, 2008 10:36 AM

Put a uniform on him and send him to Iraq. Seriously! Sen. Joe Leiberman should do some form of penance for bobbleheading beside Cindy McCain for the past year. If Sen. Leiberman's seniority demands a chairmanship, put him in charge of something far removed from defense issues. We certainly don't need his cheerleading for yet another PNAC-neocon war scheme.

Posted by: joy2 | November 16, 2008 7:44 AM

Lieberman is a neocon who will stop at nothing to advance the neocon agenda. If he does keep that chairmanship, think, would it be surprising if he opened an investigation of the Obama Admin?

Posted by: claire2 | November 15, 2008 3:14 PM

The republicans are the RED MENACE of the 21st century. They have made incredible progress over the last 50 years in stealing our freedoms through economic enslavement made possible by the ubiquity of distorted corporate sponsored propaganda. Stand up to the right wing despots. "Moderation in the face of tyranny is no virtue."

Posted by: rooster54 | November 15, 2008 9:47 AM

Joe Lieberman is a traitor not only to the Democratic party but he needs to register as a foreign agent for the Israeli government. When Oil was at 150$ dollars a barrel Joe Lieberman openly stated that the United States should have committed economic suicide, and absorb tens of thousands of casualties so Israel could maintain its nuclear monopoly in the middle east. After all we went through in Iraq and Afghanistan warmonger Joe thought that it was time to declare war on Iran. A war that even most neoconvict (including Bush) observers said would damage our country and drive oil into the stratoshpere. Joe you don't work in the Israeli Senate, and if you want to be a Republican well then Republicans are in the minority and don't get any Chairmanships. I am convinced the only reason Lieberman didn't support Obama is because of the Iran issue and quite frankly because Obama's middle name is Hussein.

Joe Lieberman should be stripped of his chairmanship, have his staff cut to a minimum, and he should be given the absolute worst office space in the entire capitol. There is no way this agent for a foreign government should have subpoena and oversight power of our national security. Another benefit of this will be that this agent for a foreign government will lose his top secret clearances.

Posted by: socalcrimatt | November 15, 2008 7:03 AM

There are some blue dogs I worry more about than old Joe.

No gain to be made from shrinking the party.
This is an intramural party fight we don't need.

Leave it to President Obama and Rahm to steer the agenda. If we're talking main street issues Joe will be on board. Let'e leave the loyalty test to the Republicans.

Leave him alone.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | November 15, 2008 1:36 AM

Lieberman says he is a man of principle, voting his conscience and his principles? If Lieberman truly votes his principles, then it should be irrelevant whether he keeps or loses a chairmanship. His votes should be the same.

I say, Let's find out.

Posted by: claire2 | November 14, 2008 10:41 PM

Congrats on speaking up Sen. Leahy!
Go ahead and keep being kind to this now 3 time loser (VP,his home state primary, and now McCain) and wait to be surprised when he tries to sidetrack Obama's agenda from his Chairmanship.

Posted by: Irishman214 | November 14, 2008 9:26 PM

Remove him from the chair and put him in a janitor's closet near the office of the Alaskan senator, whoever that ends up being. Lieberman ought to have the courage of his convictions and resign from the chairmanship but alas, we know for Joe, it is all about Lieberman. THROW HIM OUT

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | November 14, 2008 8:33 PM

Lieberman is an opportunistic, self-interested rogue if ever there was one. The Democrats are fools to think they can rely on his vote whatever they do. They should show some spine unless they wish the dog's tail wagging upon themselves for ever more. Bravo Leahy!

Posted by: bluebirder | November 14, 2008 7:15 PM

Sen. Leahy is to be commended for speaking out. The Democrats should strip Lieberman of his chairmanship and let him jump ship. That will show every one that Lieberman is in it for himself only. Let Joe the Lieberman show us the real Joe the Lieberman.

Should he jump ship maybe John the McCain will let him have the senior position that John the McCain otherwise will hold in a committee.

Posted by: steviana | November 14, 2008 7:14 PM

Another thing to mention is that letting him keep his chairmanship and having his vote in crucial instances are NOT connected. He will vote with his friends no matter if he retains his chairmanship or not. To allow ourselves to be put at the mercy of this whackjob just because someone thinks that he will vote for the Democrats instead of the Republicans is silly.

Posted by: dkmjr | November 14, 2008 7:14 PM

One thing I left out of my post. If Lieberman is given any kind of a chairmanship that would put him in a position to advance the agenda of his republican buddies, that's what he'll do with it.

If Lieberman is put into any kind of chairmanship where he could use his authority to investigate and indict the Obama administration, that's what he'll do with it.

If the Democrats hand Joe The Bummer Lieberman a gun, Joe is going to shoot them with it.

Posted by: fredfawcett | November 14, 2008 7:03 PM

Whether or not Lieberman should be punished for his behavior during the campaign is actually irrelevant. He needs to lose his chairmanship because during the two years he was chairman, he did absolutely diddly with it. He should have been going after the misdeeds of the Bush administration and he should have been investigating why our ports and chemical facilities are lacking protection, but if he ever held a hearing, no one knows about it. His reign as chairman was an exercise in incompetence and the position is too important to be staffed by another "Heckuva job, Brownie."

Posted by: dkmjr | November 14, 2008 6:54 PM

Thanks to Senator Leahy for his correct vote with regards to Joe The Bummer Lieberman.

Depending on the particular issue being voted on, there are republican Senators who will vote with the Democrats. Both Senators from Maine come to mind.

Looking at this from another perspective, Lieberman will vote with the Democrats on the issues where he and they agree. On those issues where he disagrees with his party, Lieberman will vote with the republicans, as he already does. This is the way he'll be voting whether or not he gets the chairmanship.

There's just no good reason to kiss up to a slimedog who betrays his own.

Posted by: fredfawcett | November 14, 2008 6:49 PM

Whether or not Lieberman should be punished for his behavior during the campaign is actually irrelevant. He needs to lose his chairmanship because during the two years he was chairman, he did absolutely diddly with it. He should have been going after the misdeeds of the Bush administration and he should have been investigating why our ports and chemical facilities are lacking protection, but if he ever held a hearing, no one knows about it. His reign as chairman was an exercise in incompetence and the position is too important to be staffed by another "Heckuva job, Brownie."

Posted by: dkmjr | November 14, 2008 6:49 PM

Senator Lieberscum is a shameless, unrepentant, turncoat in dire need of being booted from his committee chair. Not only did he defy his party when he ran as an independent in 2006, but he has stabbed President-elect Barack Obama in the back repeatedly. He is neither loyal to the Democratic party, nor loyal to the United States of America. How many Shekels did he receive from the Israelis for supporting George Bush’s unjustified war against Iraq that is completely based on lies? How many more American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars is he going to squander doing Israel’s dirty work. If he had had an ounce of decency, he would this nation a favor and resign from his seat as US Senator, move to Israel, and run for the Knesset. That is where his loyalties lie.

Posted by: russ_broadway | November 14, 2008 6:26 PM

Lieberman is a scab and is the lord high priest of sanctimony. Let Lieberman join the Republicans, vote like a Republican for the next 4 years, bring home no bacon, and try to win reelection as a Republican in 2012 when Obama runs for another term.

Posted by: Galavant | November 14, 2008 6:18 PM

Leahy and Bernie make a lot of sense, as usual. Joe needs to be gone-DHS is out of control.

Posted by: kml | November 14, 2008 6:12 PM

I never really cared for Joe Lieberman as a politician,but after watching him turn on his party at the Republican Convention,praising John McCain for President, left me with a bitter feeling.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | November 14, 2008 6:11 PM

I never really cared for Joe Lieberman as a politician,but after watching him turn on his party at the Republican Convention,praising John McCain for President, left me with a bitter feeling.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | November 14, 2008 6:10 PM

It's easy. At the risk of being seen as non P.C. or worse still anti-semetic let's face an obvious fact. Joe Liberman is not loyal either to the Democrats or the United States his first loyalty is with Israel! So make him Ambassador to Israel, (then we can have a real Democratic Senator from wherever). Then offer Green Cards to every Israeli. That way most would move to the US, the only ones staying would be the Zionist fanatics, which I am sure the arabs would make short work of. (Good riddence) and they could go back to their true love,fighting each other. Mid East problem solved, Liberman problem solved. Ta da..

Posted by: martin14 | November 14, 2008 6:03 PM

i agree with leahy 100%. lieberman lost the primary in connecticut as well, and has a republican's view of security and foreign policy. why on earth would they ask him to head a committee given those facts?

Posted by: e9999999 | November 14, 2008 6:02 PM

In our beloved country, we have an unfortunate tradition of brutal and brutally personal political campaigns, which hurts us, but we also have the tradition of "The election's over, forgive and forget", which helps us.

Not holding grudges is one of America and American's greatest strengths, as a nation and a people.

We "forgive and forget" because that's the smart thing to do, not to mention the right one, and that attitude has been key to America and American's success.

So what does Leahy do?

We don't even have 60 votes and Leahy's undercutting the guy who's going to be the first Democratic President in eight yesrs.

We need every vote we can get. We need every edge we can get. We need Lieberman, and we want him feeling and knowing that he now ows the Democratic Psrty, "Big Time"

That's the smart thing to do.

Letting ourselves be suckered into losing Lieberman to the Republicans is just plain stupid, a state that most angry people are in.

The Republicans will try their best to to block anything Obama tries to do between Jan 20th and 2010, that they can get congress back in 2010 and the whitehouse in 2012.

We can't let that happen.

Let Obama be Obama.

Let Obama be effective!

Posted by: svreader | November 14, 2008 5:57 PM

Thank you Senator Leahy !!!! When others were silent you have always stood up for the constitution. Please consider Attorney General because Justice needs a top to bottom boil the building cleanzing.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 14, 2008 5:54 PM

In our beloved country, we have an unfortunate tradition of brutal and brutally personal political campaigns, which hurts us, but we also have the tradition of "The election's over, forgive and forget"

We don't even have 60 votes and we have Leahy undercutting the guy who's going to be the first Democratic Prsident in eight yesrs.

We need every vote we can get. We need every edge we can get. We need Lieberman, and we want him feeling and knowing that he now ows the Democratic Psrty, "Big Time"

That's the smart thing to do.

Letting ourselves be suckered into losing Lieberman to the Republicans is just plain stupid, a state that most angry people are in.

The Republicans will try their best to to block anything Obama tries to do between Jan 20th and 2010, that they can get congress back in 2010 and the whitehouse in 2012.

We can't let that happen.

Let Obama be Obama.

Let Obama be effective!

Posted by: svreader | November 14, 2008 5:48 PM

Leahy was being kind in his remarks. In response to Leiberman saying that he would consider his options, Leahy should have given Lieberman the option that Dick Cheney gave Leahy in the Senate chamber.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 14, 2008 5:47 PM

Lieberman went rogue.

Posted by: LeftwithNochoice | November 14, 2008 5:31 PM

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