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The Rundown

2 p.m. ET: Barack Obama may have just made the smartest move yet in his (short) stint as president-elect -- throwing a lifeline to Joe Lieberman.

Obama told Harry Reid last week that expelling Lieberman from the Democratic Caucus for his vocal backing of John McCain's candidacy (and trashing of Obama's) "would send the wrong signal after Obama's promises to set partisanship aside," as Paul Kane writes. Obama wants Lieberman to remain on the Democratic side of the Senate aisle. As of now, the situation remains unresolved; Reid has floated possible compromises, which might include stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee but giving him a lesser gavel, perhaps on the Small Business panel.

Why was this a smart move by Obama? Three reasons:

1) As you may have heard by now, Obama campaigned on the premise that he would "change" Washington. Rhetoric aside, chances to actually enact said "change" will be few and far between. But Lieberman provides him one small opportunity to do so, by letting Obama appear to rise above the nastiness of the just-concluded campaign and reach out to a former foe. And what better way to paint yourself as being above partisanship than helping an "Independent Democrat" who doesn't really fit in either party?

2) On a practical level, keeping Lieberman in the fold helps Obama's math problem, which is: 57 does not equal 60. Obama will need 60 votes in the Senate to accomplish any of his big priorities -- on taxes, health care and so on -- and alienating Lieberman would mean that he would be one vote shorter of that filibuster-proof majority. Holding on to Lieberman means having to woo one fewer Republican.

3) Assuming Lieberman gets to keep all or most of his assignments and seniority, he is going to owe Obama a favor. The president-elect can tuck that chit in his pocket and wait for the next really tough vote, or for when he needs some cover on a controversial national security or homeland security-related issue (like an Iraq withdrawal plan, for example). Then he gets to call Lieberman and say, "Remember when I saved you?"

Of course, it's not all peaches and cream for Obama. Liberal blogs -- AKA the "Netroots" -- are not happy about this, and they a few on the Left may not be satisfied with anything short of complete excommunication for the Connecticut Senator. But Obama doesn't have to run again for four more years, and keeping liberals in the fold probably isn't his biggest worry right now. So no matter what happens to Lieberman in the end, this move will cost Obama very little, and may reward him -- both symbolically and substantively -- a whole lot more.

8 a.m. ET: A meeting between the two most powerful men in the world produced remarkably little news Monday, as President Bush and Barack Obama came together in a time of crisis to agree on one thing -- the importance of speaking in platitudes.

What did 43 and 44 actually discuss during their private session in the Oval Office? The meeting has been almost leak-free; maybe Obama really will change Washington, and the political press will go out of business. Or maybe they didn't discuss anything at all and just watched Sportscenter. Either way, the moment appears lost to history.

While Obama honors veterans today in Chicago, transition honcho John Podesta -- occasionally known as "Skippy" -- will brief reporters today in D.C. on the status of that effort. The Cabinet selection process remains essentially silent, though an increased focus on the plight of the auto industry has boosted speculation in some quarters that Jennifer Granholm might make her way into the administration, perhaps at Energy. Another prominent woman who could land a plum administration job: Patti Solis Doyle, whose selection would only add to the ongoing Clinton-Obama soap opera.

Wondering which prominent Republican(s) Obama will have in his Cabinet? We may have our answer this morning, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, which reports the incoming president "is leaning toward" keeping Robert Gates in charge at the Pentagon.

Speaking of the loyal opposition, the Republican Governors Association meetings in Miami will be the occasion for the start of the party's own peculiar brand of rehab this week (Step 1: Form Factions; Step 2: Assign Blame, etc.). That process will eventually include selecting a new RNC chair. Is Newt Gingrich in the running? It could be a new rite of passage: Every time a Democrat is elected to a first term as president, he/she has to square off against Gingrich. Perhaps another government shutdown is coming.

Lastly on the GOP front, Sarah Palin wil be speaking at that RGA meeting this week, ensuring that not a single news cycle will go by without some prominent mention of the Alaska governor. Palin had an extended taped interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning, which included a heartwarming segment in which she made dinner for the family while dismissing all those mean attacks against her by unnamed McCain aides. Maybe the press won't go out of business after all.

By Ben Pershing  |  November 11, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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COMMENTS

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And why exactly would Granholm be a likely pick for Energy? Because she's the governor of the failing state of Michigan, which is where the failing auto industry is based, and cars run on gas which comes from oil, which is what our failing energy policy is based on? Or maybe it's because you have no idea so you're just making stuff up.

Posted by: cjenns | November 11, 2008 1:00 PM

This is the dumbest post ever. and that takes alot on this page. Lieberman didn't do squat whan he was in charge of homeland security. Now, when he's in position to stick it to Obama on everything Iraq, you think he'll play nice? Obama help LIEberman get re-elected, what did LIEberman do, call Obama a maxist, un-american. JOE MUST GO!!!!

Posted by: obrier2 | November 11, 2008 2:27 PM

Get used to this type of reporting. So Obama votes "present" on Lieberman and some dingbat reporter gushes about how smart he is. It won't be long before The Messiah has to take a tough position on something and actually make a hard call. There is no evidence whatsoever he has the skills to do that. Selecting the least worst option out of only bad options when you don't have enough information to make the call that has to be made right now is what the President does. I guess we'll see if Obama can take a hard stand on a tough issue without being able to straddle it like he has done all throughout out the campaign. His supplicants in the press have allowed him to get away with that, but the day of reckoning is approaching.

Posted by: tfitzgib | November 11, 2008 2:33 PM

I think it is, unfortunately, smart for Pres. Elect Obama to keep Lieberman in the Caucus, although I strongly believe he should be demoted, and rather significantly so. Not because he supported McCain, (although I believe he did so only for ego related reasons, believing initially that it would get him the VP nod, and thereafter that it would get him a Cabinet position), but because he trash talked Senator Obama and campaigned for lower level Republicans. I think most people understand that he is past his prime in Congress, and I strongly agree - he never was much of a Democrat anyhow, but I think Senator Obama is smart to let the people of Conn. get rid of him - if they had wanted a Republican, they would have voted for one. Too bad, Joe - you bet on a loser. One note though, I hope President Obama doesn't count on that chit - I am pretty sure Lieberman cannot be trusted to keep his word on anything.

Posted by: rmcdetal | November 11, 2008 2:44 PM

Not much to add here.

I agree with everything written for exactly the same reasons. No punitive actions toward Sen. Lieberman.

Very small downside. But the upside is enormous.

Posted by: kban495 | November 11, 2008 2:52 PM

We all know what Mr. Lieberman is and what he represents, and it isn't representing the people of Connecticut. Mr. Obama's recommendation was nothing more than outright pandering to the Jewish lobby! CT Resident

Posted by: dgward44 | November 11, 2008 2:55 PM

Contrary to all that "messianic" babble in the media, Obama is an absolute pragmatist. He does what is best for the country and what is best for the party. Neither would be served by kicking Lieberman out.

Posted by: dunnhaupt | November 11, 2008 3:01 PM

It's too early for Obama to take action on Lieberman. No tit-for-tat so early in the game. Lieberman is "small potatoes". And is so old, this might not even be an issue down the road.

Posted by: msreginacomcastnet | November 11, 2008 3:20 PM

Fully expect the Dems to vote to keep LIEberman in the caucus. Hopefully, they will show some spine and remove this incompetent chairman off the Homeland Security committee. He has bent over backwards to avoid questioning GW Bush, and has handed over the Constitution to the Republicans to allow them to strip away our liberties and rights.

Posted by: temptxan | November 11, 2008 3:24 PM

Mr. Ben Pershing, I'm guessing that you are either a rookie political journalist or just plain lazy.I constantly try to find real news wherever i can find it, but always find these absurdly insufficient, uninformed, halfhearted articles such as yours.
1) Obama say's publicly that he wants to keep Lieberman (yeah!) this gives him political cover so that when the democrats vote him out he can maintain his dismay! (It's called skillful politics)
2) Even if the democrats held a filibuster proof (yeah right) 60 seats, some blue dog dems will still vote with the repubs on some issues and vise versa. The number 60 is not a magic bullet.
3) If I turned in work like this I’d probably be fired

Posted by: cergaster | November 11, 2008 4:57 PM

Expelling Lieberman would seem petty. Removing him from any prestigious position is just the right thing. Small Business sounds just right for this small potatoes Senator. The party owes him nothing, and shouldn't bother to give him any excuse to whine, which he's already done about losing the primary in '06. Let him choose to leave if he wants. What are the Repub's going to do with him?

Posted by: dicka1 | November 11, 2008 6:53 PM

BO is sucking up to Jews all he can now to cover himself for when he throws Israel under the bus.

Posted by: garymrosen | November 11, 2008 9:58 PM

Quote: "Assuming Lieberman gets to keep all or most of his assignments and seniority, he is going to owe Obama a favor. The president-elect can tuck that chit in his pocket and wait for the next really tough vote, or for when he needs some cover on a controversial national security or homeland security-related issue (like an Iraq withdrawal plan, for example). Then he gets to call Lieberman and say, "Remember when I saved you?""

Ben: What are you smoking? Obama above all knows by now that Lieberman's word is worth nothing!

Posted by: TomPaine2 | November 12, 2008 12:37 PM

Newspapers are dying because they are staffed by retards like Ben Pershing who can't grasp basic facts: being in the Dem caucus has nothing to do with committee chairmanships. Harry Reid will not and has never said he would expel Lieberman, nor have the netroots called for that. If Lieberman ends up not being part of the Dem caucus, that will solely be because *he* refused to, not because he was "expelled". But Lieberman won't leave the Dem caucus; it's sheer bluff, as there's no way he would join the Republicans and vote against 90% of his views.

Please see http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/12/7627/7437/347/659696 and stop lying.

Posted by: jibal | November 12, 2008 1:05 PM

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