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Capitol Punishment

It's a rare double hanging in the Capitol this morning.

In the Old Senate Chamber, Senate Democrats are meeting to decide the fate of apostate colleague Joe Lieberman. His crime: backing John McCain.

A couple of doors down, in the Mansfield Room, Senate Republicans are meeting to decide the fate of their colleague Ted Stevens, who is celebrating his 85th birthday today. His crime: crime.

The predictions are that both sides are in a forgiving mood. Democrats will let Lieberman keep his committee chairmanship, and Republicans will let the felonious Stevens stay in their caucus, at least until the vote counting is done in his still-contested reelection.

As they walked into their respective meetings this morning, however, the lawmakers are making no commitments. The freshly convicted Stevens, shuffling down the second-floor hallway of the Capitol, at first tried to enter the Democrats' caucus. "We in here?" he asked. Aides guided him further down the hall, where he was besieged by questioners.

Does he have the votes? "I haven't any idea."

Is he nervous? "No."

What does he plan to tell his colleagues? Here Stevens paused and turned to face the reporters. "The truth," he said bitterly.

Moments later, Lieberman made his way to the Democrats' gathering, wearing a forced smile as reporters shoved microphones and recorders his way. "I-, I-, I'm looking forward to a good discussion," he said. He entered the chamber and, though most of his colleagues had their backs to him, he found a friendly face in Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who shared a laugh.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, ignored questions as he walked into the chamber with his arms around two senators' shoulders in a collegial pose. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who has argued for Lieberman's ouster from the Homeland Security committee chairmanship, also ignored queries. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) was informed by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that he could not bring his coffee into the historic chamber.

Stevens's reprieve came first. At 9:34 a.m., just minutes after the senators assembled in the Mansfield room, DeMint's office sent out a statement: "After talking with many of my colleagues, it's clear there are sufficient votes to pass the resolution regarding Senator Stevens. The question now is timing. Some who support the resolution believe we should address this after the results of his election are confirmed in Alaska. For this reason, I will ask the Conference to postpone the vote on Senator Stevens until Thursday."

The Democrats say they'll be meeting for two hours - but word on Lieberman should leak out before then. There are a lot of old guys in the caucus, and there are no toilet facilities in the Old Senate Chamber.

By Dana Milbank  | November 18, 2008; 10:00 AM ET
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please, as if those duplicitous, lying scumbags will suffer any consequences to their crimes/betrayal. but, that's quite the imagery there, dana. if only it was true.

holy joe gives up cmte assignments he could care less about; while keeping his sweet honeypot chair for dhs. a position that in the previous administration was used by him to cover for the crimes committed by bushco.

please remind me of the hearings he and susie collins conducted during the past eight years. when his real highlight of oversight was this:

Chairman Lieberman: Mr. Brown, I thank you very much. I will certainly support your nomination. I will do my best to move it through the Committee as soon as possible so we can have you fully and legally at work in your new position. In the meantime, I thank you very much. I thank your family for their support of you, and at this point, we will adjourn the hearing.

Posted by: mycomment | November 18, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

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