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Obama Supports Keeping Lieberman in Democratic Caucus

By Paul Kane
President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed keeping Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the Democratic caucus, suggesting to leadership that the two sides reach a compromise in the conflict over the former Democratic vice presidential nominee's future, sources said today.

In a phone conversation last week with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Obama said that expulsion of Lieberman for his support of the Republican presidential ticket would send the wrong signal after Obama's promises to set partisanship aside, according to a Senate Democratic aide familiar with the conversation.

Obama "didn't get into the minutiae. It was more along the lines of, 'let's find a way to put the campaign behind us'," the aide said.

The call to Reid, which covered many other issues, came before the majority leader met with Lieberman last Thursday to discuss Lieberman's future in the Democratic caucus. Lieberman is one of two independents who caucus, and generally vote, with the Democrats.

Aides to Obama and Reid declined comment on the specifics of the conversation between the two party leaders. Obama's camp insisted the president-elect did not make any specific suggestions about how to resolve the situation, but did say that Obama wants Lieberman to remain with the Democrats.

"President-elect Obama looks forward to working with anyone to move the country forward," Obama transition spokesperson Stephanie Cutter said in a statement issued today. "We'd be happy to have Sen. Lieberman caucus with the Democrats. We don't hold any grudges."

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By Web Politics Editor  |  November 11, 2008; 12:54 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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No mandate? He should kowtow to the same idjits we just got rid of? LMAO! What a stupid statement. CLUE: OBAMA COULD NOT HAVE WON WITHOUT LIBERALS EITHER - no how!

BTW, wanting less partisanship does NOT mean selling out our values for yours!

We're DONE with those LACK OF VALUES, thanks!

Get real! Lieberman is not a Democrat and Democrats WOULDN'T put him back in power so he turned and used Republicans; now he can just change his stupid I to n R, as he is much more in line with them than with Democrats. You shouldn't get to demonized the Democrats for TWO YEARS.....and plan on STAYING with the party you betrayed!

You're slime Lieberman. An insult to the party.

Screw that! He's an puke and a Republican liar. We don't want him :o{

Posted by: mjfpdx | November 12, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what the president-elect says. Lieberman should be given a one way ticket to Israel.

Posted by: dogsbestfriend | November 12, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

To really be able to speak about what Lieberman's future role should be, one needs to be reminded of exactly what treachery Lieberman perpetrated.

If you have not seen the Brave New Films video on the subject, you are missing out. I have it posted, with a brief accompanying article.

"Lieberman Must Go"

Posted by: scootmandubious | November 11, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

In the face of a divided and deluded conservative party, Joe Lieberman is more useful where he is.

The most rabid of the right are out to purge the party of "moderates". They've got nothing left to cut after the last party purge that put the likes of Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin on the front burner. And if John McCain lost for being too liberal - how the hell does Lieberman think he's going to find a warm welcome in the GOP?

Let us allow the GOP to shrink their party over inflexible ideology. And let's leave Joe Lieberman alone.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | November 11, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"Aspergirl is either clueless or lying. The netroots do not want to kick him out of the caucus -- they know full well his vote is needed. The issue on the table is Lieberman's chairmanship of homeland security."

Posted by: jibal | November 11, 2008 5:29 PM

You're the one not keeping up. Liebermann will not find it acceptable to be removed from his chairmanship of that committee.

The netroots should also recognize this fact: Obama and the Democrats don't have a "mandate" when it comes to homeland security. However much you might want to delude yourself otherwise, Obama would have lost this election if it were not for the economic issues and if national security had remained on the forefront.

The majority of the population is more in line with Liebermann's positions, even if the majority of the Democrats -- and virtually all of the netroots -- are on the other side of that coin.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 11, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama is playing good cop; the 56 or 57 other senators will enjoy the sight of Lieberman twisting in the political winds for a good, long time.

McCain wanted him as VP; the Republican party said **no**. They would have walked out of the convention on McCain.

So Lieberman has no place to turn to. He needs to the democratic party more than it needs him. Too bad he wasn't up for re-election in 2010; he never would have had the 'nads to play Obama that hard two years away for re-election.

His votes are 90% liberal. He loses his chairmanship, but stays in the caucus. Reid et al will enjoy making an example of him. Senators are a vicious lot; especially when they know that none of them can be POTUS for the next 8 years...

Posted by: jrob822 | November 11, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"Now they are out to drive him out of the party caucus. The netroots hate him as a moderate party leader and want to eliminate him"

Aspergirl is either clueless or lying. The netroots do not want to kick him out of the caucus -- they know full well his vote is needed. The issue on the table is Lieberman's chairmanship of homeland security.

Posted by: jibal | November 11, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

It worries me that, as with FISA, Obama doesn't understand the interplay of issues here. No one wants to expel Lieberman from the Dem caucus -- rather, Lieberman is threatening to leave it if he can't stay on as chair of homeland security. But he's bluffing -- there's no way he would become a Republican and vote the opposite of his beliefs on 90% of issues. A perfectly reasonable compromise would be to *allow* Lieberman to remain part of the Dem caucus, while stripping him of his chairmanship.

Posted by: jibal | November 11, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"labman57 you sound like a more defined future retard...Obama hasn't done nothing yet but lip-service...lets hope that soon we won't categorize YOU as an Iraqi Soldier running to the other side while shedding YOUR uniform."

Lets not call someone retarded and then make a retarded comment shall we? And yes, Obama hasn't accomplished much yet. Shockingly however, he is not the President yet. He can't exactly enact policies when he's not in the Oval Office yet can he? That's like the man on deck in baseball trying to hit a home run, it just doesn't work.

Posted by: XanderB | November 11, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama will be a good president and I was happy to see the election results. But morons posting in forums turned my stomach for months. I assumed the attacks on the patriotism of McCain were hyperbole born of election fever. But now that the election is over and they still insist on a purge of representatives who the people insisted upon, like Lieberman, it's too much! They hate Bill Clinton (a former president); they hate their former VP candidate Lieberman; they hate Hillary (who they had expected to be their presidential candidate until Obama showed up). Who's next? And THEY speak of the need for loyalty. Nutjobs are nutjobs -- but at least some nutjobs aren't flailing hatemongers.

Posted by: cerebral_but | November 11, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

President-Elect Obama is not only highly intelligent and empathetic, he is a pragmatic politician. In spite of the fact that Lieberman acted as a traitor to the cause of the Democratic Party, he does vote most of the time with his Democratic colleagues and they may very well need his vote to enact important legislation. If Joe reverses that trend in the future, then the Dems can give him the boot. In the meantime, I am proud to know that the President-Elect is behaving in a Lincolnesque manner.

Posted by: lhummer | November 11, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse


Very impressive.

Posted by: bushieisa | November 11, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama's is clever in taking a magnanimous approach to the Lieberman problem. Joe is already inexorably sinking of his own weight. So let him continue to hang with the Senate Democrats - he won't be able to accomplish much because he's proved that his only loyalty is to himself. When 2012 rolls around, the citizens of Connecticut will realize that he is no longer effective in representing their interests, and they'll give him the boot.
Lieberman won't be able to find another job, but by 2012 the economy will have improved and Lieberman's impact on the jobless numbers won't matter.

Posted by: HughBriss | November 11, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The netroots targeting Liebermann for not being ideologically pure, are a great example of the problem Obama faces in crafting an intelligent, "big tent" party. They are the left-wing analogs of the neocons: they are the kind of divisive, poisonous, hyperpartisans that, in the Republican party, led to the decline of quality of leadership and intelligent policy-making.

The netroots are useful for helping win elections and get certain laws passed and other online activist-based constructive efforts. But it should be recognized that the netroots are, in a political-community sense, divisive, ideologically manic hyperpartisans. When the netroots go on these hit job missions to take out leading moderates, Democrats should recognize that the netroots pose a threat to the quality and depth of leadership in the field of senior politicians of the Party.

The Democratic party should develop a conscientious and conscious strategy to ignore the netroots whenever they go on these hit job missions, recognizing the netroots' divisive, destructive effect on the party in this particular area of activism (trying to eliminate leading Democrats they deem too ideologically "impure").

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 11, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Bacon lives in Connecticut, right? I'm trying to get to Gorbachev in less than six steps.

Posted by: pressF1 | November 11, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

That's right, cyrusg72 and pedraza1, Lieberman is a traitor. Don't forget war crime trials for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell too!

Posted by: MarkInAustin | November 11, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I do not agree with what Leiberman did but Obama is right when he say's that this is not a time to hold a grudge. Joe will be needed to help pass Obama's policies. Let's lay low until he is up for reelection and then fight as hard as we can to get him defeated! "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

Posted by: flyingeagel | November 11, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

LOL! :-D

Well it's not like he Endorsed a Republican!

Please, take the RINO McAmnesty with him!

It would greatly reduce the Confusion about WHY he Blew the Election sooooo badly!

McCain, is Ten-Fold the Partisan Traitor Leiberman could ever try to be!

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 11, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Aspergirl is absolutely right. Democratic nutcases are not going to sink Obama; Obama is going to sink them.

Lieberman is a liberal Democrat. He supports the war. Guess what? There are classical conservative Republicans who do not support the war because they do not believe in social engineering. Do the Republicans have a bigger tent than we do? I hope not! Does everyone have to toe the party line or get out? I don't want to be a member of the Communist Party, only the Democratic one.

I see the nutcases on these pages still refuse to learn from their president-elect, just as they declined to occupy his high moral ground during the campaign.

Posted by: Chicago1 | November 11, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is a traitor. Last I looked Treason in America is punishable by death. Therefore, he should be stripped of all chairmanships, meaningful posts of authority, etc.

I can't believe my eyes seeing him at the RNC convention urging all the Democrats and fence sitters to vote for incensed me! Now he's looking for leniency? Why in the world should he get it? I guess Obama should step over the ailse and give McCain an offer to join his cabinet? NO!

There are alot of people who worked their butts off to get Obama elected to defeat McSame and his "Chickenhawk" legions that are destroying this great country with their thirst for "perpetual war". Obama should throw Lieberman and his ilk to the dogs. Ultimately, someone will.

Posted by: cyrusg72 | November 11, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman should go he crossed the lines of honor long ago and could easily be lined up as Judas. aloha Joe maybe you can become a plumber..

Posted by: pedraza1 | November 11, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

we would not be were we are without the dems the market tanking because of carter and clintons free house for a vote crap and the the star barney and his fling with the fanny may executive the cost the taxpayers billions the rep should not sign on any dem bills let them have all the rope they need they will spend and tax and take the 401k and go after the hand that feeds them

Posted by: getsix1 | November 11, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Why would you want to caucus with the democrats, after you said their presidential candidate (now, elect) sucks? Oh, that's right... for power.

Lieberman must understand that he is not the most qualified person to carry the agenda for the Democratic senate. Of course, he can caucus with whomever he wants, but he can't expect to chair important committees. His belief set just is not aligned with Democrats.

I appreciate Obama's willingness to mend fences, but he should stay out of the Senate's affairs.

Posted by: ChrisStewart | November 11, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I find Lieberman despicable. My hope is that he is stripped of his committee chairmanship, but otherwise is permitted to hang out with the big boys. He could be of some use to the Demo caucus and has sunk to that level of existence, a pawn; the role he has embraced so willingly, yet seems to have not gone exactly as he hoped.

Posted by: EmperorWatcher | November 11, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Excellent; it absolutely does send the wrong signal. If the Reid-Pelosi Stalinists can't get along with a liberal Democrat just because he supports the war, who CAN they get along with? The alienation of aisle-crossers like McCain would soon follow and that would be an end to all bipartisanship, thus undermining Obama in a pre-inaugural palace coup.

I actually called Reid and Obama's offices just to complain about this. Perhaps I was not alone.

Lieberman should certainly retain his homeland security seat. I trust him with it. He is one of the few Democrats that Republicans would trust on this issue.

Posted by: Chicago1 | November 11, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The netroots created the Liebermann problem by targeting him during his 2006 senate race and having another Democrat defeat him in the primary. That is why Libermann ran (and won) as an Independent. Now they are out to drive him out of the party caucus. The netroots hate him as a moderate party leader and want to eliminate him, just as they wanted to eliminate the Clintons from the party scene altogether, except that the Clintons have proved to be popular vote movers and rally draws.

The netroots want to destroy those Democrats that they think stand in the way of the party moving to a more socialist agenda. They are still gunning for Liebermann and for marginalizing the Clintons as much as possible.

Like the Republicans that dragged the Bush Administration into a stupid, ideological, incompetent state, the netroots have little in the talent, ability, depth or leadership of an individual politician, but have hardcore, relentless ideological purposes and litmus tests. The netroots, if they are allowed to get out of control, will dumb down, over-ideologize and "incompetent-ize" the Democratic party leadership in the way the neocons destroyed the competence and intelligent leadership capacity of the Republican party.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 11, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

As much as I respect Obama's desire for putting the campaign behind him, Lieberman had crossed the line. Back in 2004 when Zell Miller defected and disparaged Kerry as a speaker at the Republican convention, I would have been pleased to see him disenfranchised. But, in truth, Miller had voted like a Republican for years. He just hadn't come out of the closet until then. Lieberman has been more likely to vote with the Democrats, so his transgression is more apalling. Take away his chairmanship. If he decides to caucus with the Republicans - good riddance.

Posted by: rob15 | November 11, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Progressive Democrats staged a coup (of sorts) and caused Mr. Lieberman to lose the primary election of his party in 2006. So this man who was a three term senator of the Democratic party, who ran as the VP candidate of his party, had to run as an Independent "Connecticut for Lieberman" Party candidate in order to run in the general election. He won.

I can only imagine that there still lingers some major resentment about being thrown to the curb by progressive Democrats, and I would say he got his payback this year.

Mr. Lieberman is not my favorite voice in the Senate. Mr. Obama is, and Mr. Clinton was far too conservative for my viewpoints. But........

Why do people want to exclude the conservative voices from the Democratic Party? Mr. Lieberman did not walk away from the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party walked away from him, and he has stayed reasonably loyal to the needs of the party.

In this election he chose friendship over the party. Mr. McCain is his close personal friend, in what, if you really think about it, was more than likely bound to be a losing run. So he supported his friend.

Is the Democratic Party supposed to be inclusive of only those whose viewpoints are center or left of center, or are they poor winners?

And if one believes that one's viewpoint is the only valid viewpoint with any merit, shouldn't you be a Republican?

Posted by: larry20 | November 11, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Look, Lieberman isn't going to just start voting republican because the Dem's take his chair away or boot him out of the caucus. His constituents would never tolerate that. Lieberman's actions were unforgiveable, and to allow him to retain his chairmanship sends the wrong message to other would-be Joe Liebermans. It's also pretty stupid to have someone you can't trust in a postion of power. Joe made his choice, knowing full well the consequences. I look forward to making a contribution to his Democratic challenger in 2012. I'd welcome Joe to remain in the caucus, but he shouldn't be part of leadership, and that includes a chairmanship. And while we're at it, we could use a stronger majority leader as well. Reid is such a putz.

Posted by: rowjimmy31 | November 11, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama is simply trying to UNIFY OUR COUNTRY and do as much as he can to squash old political beefs in congress so that they can actually GET SOMETHING DONE. aka using honey instead of vinegar

Posted by: redneckinnyc | November 11, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Good to see that Obama isn't self-centered and has a sense of perspective.

Now let's see how McCain behaves: my guess is that he - like the selfish jerk he is - will go to war against the Obama WH the same way he went to war against the Bush WH.

McCain is a good actor, but, ultimately, he is a sanctimonious hothead who only really cares about himself.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 11, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It appears that President-elect Obama, and, by inference, his inner circle of advisers, still have a lot to learn about top level leadership. While, an important ingredient in the leadership package is inclusivity and issue-focused cooperation, it is also important to define the boundaries of what is acceptable and expected of political allies. Not doing so threatens to leave the cake batter in the bowl and never getting it baked into a recognizable and useful form. "I've never seen a war I don't like" Lieberman, who loudly trashed Obama during the campaign while shaking hands with and hugging McCain, has fully earned dismissal from the Dem caucus and removal from the chairmanship of a committee which was key in implementing the Bush administration's ripping large holes in the Constitution. Carrying out Lieberman's political punishment is not not even a close call. If the Democratic Caucus whimps out on this one, you can count on many nervously hopeful Obama, and Mark Warner supporters, like me, being quickly and maddeningly disappointed - weeks before the Inauguration.

Posted by: tackiton | November 11, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

labman57 you sound like a more defined future retard...Obama hasn't done nothing yet but lip-service...lets hope that soon we won't categorize YOU as an Iraqi Soldier running to the other side while shedding YOUR uniform.

Posted by: JWx2 | November 11, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Think of it this way:

When your going to the coronation you can afford to let a few out of the Tower in celebration.


Posted by: toritto | November 11, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The Obama Administration hopes to resurrect the economy, improve health care, create jobs, and transition our society from a dependence on foreign oil to one reliant on renewable energy. Whatever decision is made regarding Senator Lieberman should be one that maximizes the chance to accomplish those goals in a Senate that has few votes to spare.

I expect it will involve some compromise, but leavened with a dose of forgiveness.

Posted by: fmoolten | November 11, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Is Obama being too beneficent? Or just pragmatic?

Whichever, at least take away his committee chairmanship and give it to someone who places a higher premium on civil liberties issues.

BUT WILL THE ELECTION EVEN MATTER? Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial citizen "vigilante" squads are "community/gang stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 11, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Bachmann, Palin, Leiberman, Hasselbeck, etc. have lost all credibility with their disingenuous sudden admiration for the man that they insulted with glee just a few days ago. They remind me of the German soldier in "Saving Private Ryan" who attempts to sway his American captors that he is really on their side by declaring "f*ck Hitler". Of course, you may recall what happens later in that film...

Posted by: labman57 | November 11, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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