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Lieberman cont'd

Yesterday, I wrote a post about Joe Lieberman proving a fairly loyal Democrat. Jonathan Bernstein makes the case that this is one of Harry Reid's major accomplishments:

Indeed, while there are plenty of places where I think Reid could have done more to break GOP obstruction, the case of Joe Lieberman is surely something for which he (and perhaps the president as well) deserve a lot of credit. A lot of liberals outside the Senate wanted Holy Joe punished for his (extremely vocal) support of John McCain in 2008, and the Democratic leadership of the Senate took a lot of heat for ignoring it. It's hard to say, at this point, that the liberal critics were right -- and it's not hard at all to imagine that had the Democrats stripped Lieberman of his committee chair position, he could have walked across the aisle and not only caucused with the GOP but started to vote with them regularly as well. And without Holy Joe, there's every possibility that there's no ACA, and perhaps a smaller stimulus, no banking bill, and an even tougher road on unemployment insurance extensions. Indeed, I would think that "Lieberman flips" is #2 on the conservative daydream list about 2009-2010, just after "Al Franken comes up short."

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 5:36 PM ET
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Fair enough. I was one of those hoping that Joe would be punished.

Posted by: bdballard | September 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Rather than spend time getting Lieb to caucus, perhaps effort back in January 2009 would have been better spent on reforming the rules of the Senate down to simple majority rules. Then not only would Lieb's membership in the Caucus have not matters, not would the impact of ConservaDems on so many pieces of legislation that were either watered down (HealthCare, Stimulous, Financial Reform) or simply died (Global Warming, additional Stimulous).

Reid allowed Lieb to have power, allowed the ConservaDems to have power, allowed Snowe/Collins/Arlan to have power, and allowed the GOP in the post-Brown period. Those were all far greater mistakes and negatives than the "positive" of handling Lieb well.

We can talk about all the mistakes that Dems made over the past two years that have led to everyone expecting them to be wiped out in the coming elections. In the end, there were two major ones that make up 90%+ of the reasons:

* the failure to consider rules reform to kill the filabuster entirely with majority rules

* coming in far too low on the Stimulous

Both were sadly easy to see. Krugman has pointed to a large number of pieces *at the time* on concerns about the Stim bring too small, and the risk of it being not only the one bite of the apple, but also being framed as a "failed policy" if it was too small. On the other, there were any number of progressive (or better put DFH Liberal Bloggers) who pedicted the path the GOP would take in obstruction, outlining their reasons and their likely strategies.

That's what's sad about the past two years: it was predicted, and people either ignored the predictable or beat down those who predicted it. And now are taking "credit" for their limited succcesses and duck from their failings.

Posted by: toshiaki | September 1, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, not buying it. A loyal Democrat would not have supported John McCain for president. (full stop)

Posted by: sailor0245 | September 1, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse


The Bush tax cuts as I recall were done through reconciliation. Why cannot the democrats to the same thing?

Can you help clarify this?

Posted by: anil_malhotra1 | September 1, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Were there really all these liberals calling for Lieberman to be automatically removed from his chairmanship as punishment for endorsing McCain? Most of the criticism I've heard holds that Lieberman should have been taken into a room somewhere on election night and offered the choice between endorsing a strong health care bill, financial reform and whatever else, or having his chairmanship taken away. Seems a reasonable political move to me, and it's the kind of thing you hear about Republicans doing all the time.

Instead, he was allowed to stay where he was, lost nothing, and gained the power to make every liberal bill conservative just by withholding his support for it. The achievements mentioned in the post aren't achievements yet in any real way, in that they've yet to produce the kind of results most people would find useful in their lives. To that extent, it looks like the Liebermans of the world have scored a pretty significant victory at the cost of the Reids, not to mention the rest of us.

Posted by: andrewbaron78 | September 1, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Enough of this nonsense. Harry Reid has had the largest Senate majority in 30 years and yet the Senate has been virtually paralyzed.

Now you're arguing that only by including Joe Lieberman in his "filibuster proof" majority could he have accomplished anything at all? Reid made the decision to avoid all action until he gets super majority support. He decided that 60 was the magic number before the Republicans began their scorched Earth policy. And he's been fighting to keep his own caucus in line as Nelson, Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu, Baucus and your favorite (Independent) Democrat have "reserved the right" to join Republican filibusters.

Why? Because they could all see that there were no consequences to screwing with the party.

Reid has avoided the fight that he'll face next year if he's lucky enough to keep his own seat, because he's not going to get 60 votes in the next Congress. He'd better learn quick if he hopes to pass any legislation in the next 2 years.

Every other majority leader has found ways to govern with a simple majority. And you'd better believe that Mitch McConnell will too, if he gets above the magic number 50.

Posted by: ericma | September 2, 2010 3:43 AM | Report abuse

"Why? Because they could all see that there were no consequences to screwing with the party."

Hard to disagree with this. Sorry, Ezra, but you might as well flip this post on its head and talk about how loyal the Democrats are to Lieberman. Does he vote with them or do they vote with him? It's not an unreasonable question, from an outsider's perspective.

Posted by: slag | September 2, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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