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Why Joe Lieberman (still) rules the political world



Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman remains extremely powerful despite his repeated bucking of Democratic party leaders. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas Kamm

In the space of roughly three years, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) has done the following:

1. Strongly supported the war in Iraq, allowing then President George W. Bush to cite him as an example of the bipartisan support for the conflict.

2. Lost a Democratic primary for his seat only to run and win as an independent thanks to the fact that Republicans did not field a serious candidate against him.

3. Endorsed the 2008 presidential candidacy of Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) and delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he called of President Obama a "gifted and eloquent young man" before adding: "Eloquence is no substitute for a record."

4. Almost single-handedly brought down the idea of a Medicare buy-in compromise in the health care bill, a move that virtually ensures any sort of government-run plan is dead.

What gives? How has Lieberman exerted so much influence over a party to which he now seems to have only the most tangential connections and loyalty?

There are three answers to that question: basic math, the "hail fellow well met" attitude of the Senate and the "80 percent friend" theory.

First, the math.

After Lieberman lost the 2006 Democratic primary but won the general election running as an independent, he returned to a Senate where Democrats held 50 seats without him and 51 seats with him. Given that Bush was president at the time, if Lieberman had not caucused with Democrats, Republicans would have controlled the chamber.

Fast forward to earlier this year when Lieberman's support for McCain had many in the party's base insisting that the Connecticut Senator be banned from caucusing with Senate Democrats. Without Lieberman, Democrats had 59 seats. With him, they had 60 and, theoretically, a filibuster-proof majority.

In both instances, Lieberman benefited from the fact that Democrats -- led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) -- needed him more than he needed the party. Lieberman knew that he could say or do whatever he wanted (within some bounds) and not have to worry about being thrown from the caucus.

"If we were at 45 or 55 [seats], no one would care [about Lieberman]," said one senior Democratic Senate strategist. "He'd be out on his ass."

The second major reason Lieberman has been allowed to exert as much influence as he has is explained by the nature of the Senate -- a clubby atmosphere that largely protects its own.

Lieberman, first elected in 1988, was extremely well-regarded within his own caucus earlier this decade -- even as his ardent backing of the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq had begun to transform him into a man apart.

One senior Democratic consultant said that after his 2006 race, there was a "huge amount of goodwill and sympathy and genuine affection" from fellow Senators to Lieberman.

(It's also worth noting that all politicians live in fear of being ousted by a wealthy challenger running a single-issue campaign so Lieberman's loss was undoubtedly deeply felt by many of his colleagues.)

By all accounts, that warm regard for Lieberman has largely worn off in the intervening years as the Connecticut Senator has grown increasingly willing to break with his party on major issues.

The final reason that Lieberman remains such a power player is that, for the past several years, Senate Democrats have adopted Ronald Reagan's famous maxim that "my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy" when it comes to Lieberman.

"Because he is there often enough for other key votes, leadership must deal with him and he knows he can use his leverage for his own selfish purpose or ego," said Penny Lee, a former deputy chief of staff to Reid. Lee added that Lieberman sided with Democrats on critical votes on the budget and Medicare in 2008.

A look at National Journal's vote ratings from 2008 show that Lieberman -- while clearly a centrist -- was not by the most conservative Senator caucusing with Democrats. Lieberman ranked as more liberal than 57.5 percent of the Senate last year, a score that put him to the ideological left of six Democrats: Ben Nelson (46.7), Mary Landrieu (53.2), Mark Pryor (55), Max Baucus (57.3), Kent Conrad (57.3) and Claire McCaskill (57.3).

While Lieberman may not be the most conservative, his style -- seen by critics as a willful flaunting of his opposition to major Democratic majorities -- may make his "80 percent friendship" (or, more accurately, his "57.5 percent friendship") less valuable in the eyes of Democrats.

"I used to buy into the 'Joe's with us more than against us,'" said one prominent Democratic consultant. "Now I think we are weak and should punish him in every possible way."

The question of punishment remains a hot-button topic -- particularly among the party's liberal netroots. The most obvious form of punishment would be to take away Lieberman's chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee but that move would almost certainly drive the Connecticut Independent out of the Democratic caucus and eliminate the party's filibuster proof majority.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to Reid, who has huge amounts at stake in the 2010 election with polls showing him trailing several unknown Republican opponents. While Reid has largely resisted the calls from liberals to punish Lieberman in the past, he may not be in a position to do so any longer.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 15, 2009; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

It is Saturday, the comedic opportunity is pregnant with material with Lieberman and the senator that told him to shut up and sit down.

Posted by: RayOne | December 19, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

This bill, as is, is a failure, and likely loaded with all sorts of bad stuff. (I don't know about you, but as an American citizen, I'm not going to pay $2 TRILLION for something I haven't read, and I haven't read this bill.)

The best ploy would be to withdraw it, wait until the 2010 elections sort themselves out, then have both parties join in a true bi-partisan approach and craft a bill that is right for America.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | December 15, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Let that toad run as a Republican. Let him discover just how grateful the GOP is for all he's done for them.

He might even forget to put on his weather-announcer voice when it hits him how much he's been had.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Appareetnly he is now thinking of running as (guess!!) - a Republican in 2012. why not, I say. He's run as everything else. Unfortunately for the public, in 2012 he'll just be 70 (he looks much older) and the thought of listening to his whining and mewling, annoying little voice for yet more years is enough to make one take up serious drugs and good earplugs.

Posted by: 10emlet | December 15, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I hope Lieberman is removed from his chairmanships and told to go stuff himself. He's completely out of line on healthcare, as if campaigning for McCain wasn't already bad enough.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Read: ... like any other social science: rife with debate and disagreement, because nothing can be proven by experiment, and it's not actually a science."

==

Even in sociology you don't get people making money for making predictions based on ideas that have never worked.

I know there are useful areas in economics, and I talk about this a lot with my best friend at work, who has a Ph.D. in econ. He pretty much agrees with me on what parts are useful and which are crap.

And the part that is the most malodorous crap is the one where people make behavior predictions based on "incentive" .. as though making incremental changes in the tax code will be precisely mirrored by changes in human behavior.

"Nobody works in socialist countries"

"'Penalizing success' will lead to people not investing or inventing."

But when it reaches the level of "let the marketplace decide" then it's no longer a question of good or bad science but how soon the mental health professionals can do their stuff.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I love it! Joe Lieberman is one of the few, (and I really mean few)statesmen in the entire Congress.

Maybe the Democratic strategist meant that Joe should get off our "ass."

150f18

Posted by: pjwqaz | December 15, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

"Obviously, economics is a social science -- which makes it just like any other social science: rife with debate and disagreement."

-------------------------------------

Read: ... like any other social science: rife with debate and disagreement, because nothing can be proven by experiment, and it's not actually a science."

Posted by: jwgealt | December 15, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

It's never killed me to read books about Marxian economics written by Marxian economists. Maybe it wouldn't kill you to go pick up a book by Hayek, Friedman, or Hazlitt.

==

I have better time management skills than that. My time on this earth is finite, I am not about to waste it studying useless foppery like economics, much less that which forms the basis of abhorrent ideas held by abhorrent people.

I read physics, I study foreign languages.

I may finish my life with less money than I might have were I to spend my life obsessing over it, but I imagine my life will be much richer for having spent it acquiring useful and enriching knowledge than it would have been spent in devotion to acquisition.

And my money and mouth are in accord. I'm retiring to a Communist country.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

@ GoldandTanzanite: "If considering the existence of others is so burdensome for you perhaps you might consider taking up residence in the wilderness."
************

And that's precisely what I'm talking about when I say that it might do you some good to better understand -- straight from the source -- that which you reject.

It's never killed me to read books about Marxian economics written by Marxian economists. Maybe it wouldn't kill you to go pick up a book by Hayek, Friedman, or Hazlitt.

Individualism not only doesn't ignore the existence of others, it's entirely dependent upon it.

Consider the most famous line from Adam Smith's most famous book: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

They serve their interests....by serving me dinner. And the same holds for me.

That's individualism -- but you'll note that it involves more than just a single individual.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

@mwevans01: "It is time to let Joe Lieberman know that the DEM Party will not allow him continue to humiliate them and the President. If he wants to be a republican, so be it."
*************

And what good would that do? Bring you some emotional satisfaction?

Let's face it: both parties have to deal with their share of "mavericks".

Some of them (Nelson, Zell Miller, Snowe, Collins) are simply outside the ideological mainstream of their respective parties.

Others (McCain, Lieberman, L. Graham) just really seem to relish the role of being kingmaker.

I think it's always been known that Reid had to get pretty much every Democrat on board to get a bill through the Senate. The likelihood he was going to be able to get more than 1 Republican -- if that -- has always been slim.

And that's like herding cats. It's tough to do on a very contentious subject like healthcare.

In fact, I'll still be impressed if they're able to get anything very substantial on the president's desk.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

It might do you some good to approach and consider disparate perspectives on economics, in fact. At the very least, you can have a good, first-hand understanding of your ideological adversaries.

I've probably spent more time studying collectivist economic philosophy in my life than I have individualist economic philosophy. I think that being informed right from the object of my criticism helps me be a better critic.

==

Well if you view the world in a "collectivism - individualism" polarity then I would say you have wasted a substantial portion of your adult life studying a pseudoscience of little actual value.

If considering the existence of others is so burdensome for you perhaps you might consider taking up residence in the wilderness.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

@ GoldandTanzanite: Wrong.

Mathematicians who believe you can trisect an angle don't get tenure.

There are paid economists who believe in supply-side, who believe that cutting taxes increases revenue, who believe in deistic "market forces."

Economics is a pseudoscience, nothing like the deterministic rigorous field some believe.
*************

There aren't any paid economists that I know of who don't believe in market forces, Gold. Even the most virulently collectivist economists I've ever read -- say, Oskar Lange or Paul Sweezy -- accept the simple premise of market forces.

Obviously, economics is a social science -- which makes it just like any other social science: rife with debate and disagreement.

But the whole concept of the allocation of scarce resources is not exactly a controversial, mystical thing. And that's all economics is. There's nothing to "believe" in.

It might do you some good to approach and consider disparate perspectives on economics, in fact. At the very least, you can have a good, first-hand understanding of your ideological adversaries.

I've probably spent more time studying collectivist economic philosophy in my life than I have individualist economic philosophy. I think that being informed right from the object of my criticism helps me be a better critic.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Enough is enough! Senate DEMS sometimes you have to show you have a spine, or the school yard bully will never stop kicking you. It is time to let Joe Lieberman know that the DEM Party will not allow him continue to humiliate them and the President. If he wants to be a republican, so be it. If he is still sulking his wounds from the past, get over it and grow up.

Posted by: mwevans01 | December 15, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Robert Parry at consortium news says Lieberman is being a jerk (to put it kindly) because he wants to weaken Obama enough to take the heat off Israel. Do you think there is anything to this?

==

Momentum against Israel is building. I don't know what Lieberman's motivations are but a judge in the UK just issued an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni for war crimes in Gaza. Anyway it's safe to say that with AIPAC Joe Israel always comes first.

I hope we have a day of reckoning with that nasty little apartheid state, I would click my heels if we decided to live by our original humanitarian principles and cut them off.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Lovely. Well, then you shouldn't get too bent out of shape if people ever accuse you of being unpatriotic or whatever.

==

I think patriotism, along with every other allegiance, is scoundrelous.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Still, economics is hardly a deity. There's nothing to "believe" in or "disbelieve" in.

Saying you don't believe in economics makes about as much sense as saying you don't believe in mathematics.

==

Wrong.

Mathematicians who believe you can trisect an angle don't get tenure.

There are paid economists who believe in supply-side, who believe that cutting taxes increases revenue, who believe in deistic "market forces."

Economics is a pseudoscience, nothing like the deterministic rigorous field some believe.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

@ GoldandTanzanite: "Glad to hear it.

I think the same about the Republicans"
************

Well, then luckily for me I'm not a Republican either. I'll confess to having had more sympathy with them lately than with the Democrats -- but that's something that changes based on the subject at hand.

That's part and parcel to having a set of political beliefs that don't really square well with either major party.

But, no, I'm not involved in third party politics at all. That's a complete waste of time.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I am not now, and have never been, a member of the Libertarian Party. I think it's a political irrelevancy.

==

Glad to hear it.

I think the same about the Republicans

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite
---------------------------------------
You're one of them total..tarians.

Posted by: leapin | December 15, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

@ kstack: "Robert Parry at consortium news says Lieberman is being a jerk (to put it kindly) because he wants to weaken Obama enough to take the heat off Israel. Do you think there is anything to this?

**************

Is this a serious question? Frankly, it sounds to me like the sort of thing that Glenn Beck would say.

And, trust me, you don't want to go around in public sounding like Glenn Beck.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Robert Parry at consortium news says Lieberman is being a jerk (to put it kindly) because he wants to weaken Obama enough to take the heat off Israel. Do you think there is anything to this?

Posted by: kstack | December 15, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@ GoldandTanzanite: "On a global scale all American politics is far-right."
**************

Ah. But, then, only Americans have a vote in our system. I could just as easily say that, on an American scale, foreign countries' politics are far-left. It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

But since we're looking at things globally rather than relative to ourselves, I guess I'm free to go ahead and say that 99% of Americans are officially rich.

Because, on the same global scale you're talking about, we would be.

*********
@GoldandTanzanite: "Even Democrats believe in "economics"."
*********

Heh....that's debatable.

Still, economics is hardly a deity. There's nothing to "believe" in or "disbelieve" in.

Saying you don't believe in economics makes about as much sense as saying you don't believe in mathematics.

**********
@ GoldandTanzanite: "I've already met more of my countrymen than I ever wanted to, and I don't much care for most of them. Too wasteful, too thoughtless."
**********

Lovely. Well, then you shouldn't get too bent out of shape if people ever accuse you of being unpatriotic or whatever.

You should, instead, wear it as a badge of pride!

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I am not now, and have never been, a member of the Libertarian Party. I think it's a political irrelevancy.

==

Glad to hear it.

I think the same about the Republicans

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

@ GoldandTanzanite: "Better question: why should anyone care what libertarians think?

The third party that will never even break into high single digits..."

*****************

You're preaching to the choir, pal. The "L" in my handle actually ought to be lower case. I'm in Indiana, and we don't officially register with political parties. I've voted in both R and D primaries -- and almost always vote for one or the other in general elections.

Both Sens. Lugar and Bayh, for instance, have received votes from me.

I am not now, and have never been, a member of the Libertarian Party. I think it's a political irrelevancy.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

And if you think that the true political center of the American body politic is to the left of the Democratic Party, then I'm just not quite sure what to say to that....other than that you probably need to get out more and meet some more of your fellow countrymen.

==

On a global scale all American politics is far-right.

Even Democrats believe in "economics"

I've already met more of my countrymen than I ever wanted to, and I don't much care for most of them. Too wasteful, too thoughtless.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

@GoldandTanzanite: "True political centrism is far to the left of the Democrats and requires abandonment of some truly nutty ideas about money and class. I don't see this happening."

*******

Er, isn't the center of anything defined roughly by the mean of all its parts?

For instance, the ideological center of the faculty at Cal-Berkeley is, I'm sure, well left of the ideological center of the country at large.

Similarly, the ideological center of your typical non-denominational megachurch is likely well right of the country's.

So, the only "true political centrism" is that which is defined by throwing everybody in a system into a mix and quantifying, as best you can, what falls in the middle.

And if you think that the true political center of the American body politic is to the left of the Democratic Party, then I'm just not quite sure what to say to that....other than that you probably need to get out more and meet some more of your fellow countrymen.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world should Harry Reid, in particular, care about what the "nutroots" think?

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian

==

Better question: why should anyone care what libertarians think?

The third party that will never even break into high single digits because at the end of the day Americans would rather pay a few more dollars per year in taxes than have people dead and dying on the sidewalks.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Now we know why the Germans went medieval on these people. They just don't care about anything except destroying the gentiles. Let them in the political process and they will turn you into slaves for their distorted sense of superiority. they collapsed our system here and stoked us into a war with the Muslims... which will be our ruin. God works in mystereous ways.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | December 15, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

for what it's worth - Harry Reid should lose his Majority Leader seat over ever believing that giving Lieberman a committee Chair would do a thing to get Joe to support the Dems on procedural votes.

Posted by: balconespolitics | December 15, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world should Harry Reid, in particular, care about what the "nutroots" think?

Obviously, both parties need to keep their ideological bases in tow. But it's not as if these people have any pull in the state of Nevada itself....and that's where Harry Reid needs to focus his energies.

It's not like he's running for reelection in Marin County or somewhere like that.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | December 15, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

He'd like to see healthcare deregulated so insurance companies would never be actually required to pay for anyone's medical care, just take their premiums

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite
---------------------------------------
You don't have to go thru insurance. You can pay the healthcare provider out of your pocket directly.

Posted by: leapin | December 15, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm with fulrich.

Posted by: nodebris | December 15, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"Why Joe Lieberman (still) rules the political world"

Is it because he is one of many who are, in the words from a noted philosopher from Fast Food Nation or some other nation that we are at war with, putting sh!t in the meat that's being made inside the sausage factory that is the U.S. Senate a/k/a The Enemy of America?

Posted by: Patriot3 | December 15, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The only enemy the public option has had is time.

Some resemblance to a public option could have passed months ago if SEIU, who will profit from any new federal entity, and their liberal allies weren't quite so adamant in fighting for a stronger public option.
As more politicians, special interests and people discovered its costs to them and lobby and negotiate to craft new proposals and special protections. Delay, more problems, delay, more problems. It's endless. Now nothing even resembling a public option can make it through.

Posted by: cprferry | December 15, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@fulrich: excellent questions and I'm sure a lot of Democratic voters would like to know what the holdup is. The capitulation to Republicans has gone from puzzling to bizarre, as they yield ground again and again to a party that is far out of power and nowhere near getting back. After the complete stonewall on stimulus spending the Democrats should have just pulled the nuclear filibuster trigger and gone about doing the nation's business, and let Republicans decide on their own sweet time when then want to grow up and get serious.

Reid's spinelessness on Guantánemo was the last straw for me. He needs to go.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Why the heck are Democrats so afraid of a filibuster? They have a majority of votes in the Senate, all they have to do is agree on a bill with that majority and then bring it up for a vote. If the Republicans filibuster, let them. If they hold up the business of the country for a week, a month, whatever the American people will not be too happy. All the Dems need to do is appeal to the basic fairness in Americans. It is a democracy where majority rules--let the majority rule. By kowtowing to individual Senators or small groups the Dems look weak and hapless. How long could the Republicans hold out with a filibuster? And send EGO JOE home to lick his wounds.

Posted by: fulrich | December 15, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"The most obvious form of punishment would be to take away Lieberman's chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee but that move would almost certainly drive the Connecticut Independent out of the Democratic caucus and eliminate the party's filibuster proof majority."

I think the events of this week have demonstrated that the Democratic party does not have a filibuster proof majority. Seriously, I sometimes wonder how you people have jobs. People on the left, who no one listens to mostly because they have the embarasing habit of being right about stuff, have been warning about Lieberman for the last six years.

Posted by: academic2 | December 15, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

and what exactly would you consider "reform".

==

He'd like to see healthcare deregulated so insurance companies would never be actually required to pay for anyone's medical care, just take their premiums

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, let's get real reform. Not this neocom statist government takeover will no REAL change. Reform not power grab.


Posted by: leapin

and what exactly would you consider "reform".

Posted by: ModerateVoter | December 15, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Lieberman ranked as more liberal than 57.5 percent of the Senate last year, a score that put him to the ideological left of six Democrats: Ben Nelson (46.7), Mary Landrieu (53.2), Mark Pryor (55), Max Baucus (57.3), Kent Conrad (57.3) and Claire McCaskill (57.3)."

That should be natural as Joe is from a traditionally democratic state and all of the others, from states that went to McCain in 2008. My question, what is Lieberman seeking to gain from this politically? Surely CT voters poll HC reform favorably.

Posted by: MD-DC-VA | December 15, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Kill the bill and start again next year by passing real reform and not trying to fix what isn't broken.

==

Healthcare in the US isn't broken?

Just what this blog needs, yet another uninformed uh poster making rash assertions.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite
----------------------------------------
Yes, let's get real reform. Not this neocom statist government takeover will no REAL change. Reform not power grab.

Posted by: leapin | December 15, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Kill the bill and start again next year by passing real reform and not trying to fix what isn't broken.

==

Healthcare in the US isn't broken?

Just what this blog needs, yet another uninformed uh poster making rash assertions.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

What a horribly flawed and expensive bill this is. If passed, all the American people will get will be high taxes and a band-aid approach to health care. Obama, on the other had, will crown himself king.
Kill the bill and start again next year by passing real reform and not trying to fix what isn't broken.

Posted by: 45upnorth | December 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Viva Joe Lieberman!

Viva Hate Radio!

Viva Sarah Palin!

Posted by: leapin | December 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

A look at National Journal's vote ratings from 2008 show that Lieberman -- while clearly a centrist

==

It's long overdue to call out this "centrist" meme as the lie that it is.

There's some weird idea that the two major political parties represent two political poles, and that true independence of mind (and some chest-puffing sense of sagacity) comes in positioning oneself between them. This is false.

The Democratic party of 2009 is to the right of the GOP in Goldwater's time, to the right of Nixon. And the GOP is over the cliff, lurching further and further into extreme nutbar territory at the behest of hate radio and the Palinites.

True political centrism is far to the left of the Democrats and requires abandonment of some truly nutty ideas about money and class. I don't see this happening.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

AIPAC Joe Lieberman should have been kicked out of his chairmanship and kicked out of the Democratic caucus with a resounding "we don't want you." Campaigning for McCain was way over the top, not only disloyal to his caucus but irresponsible. A McCain presidency would have been an absolute disaster, even neglecting the probability that he would die or become incapacitated and a reckless fundamentalist bimbo would have her mitts on the nuclear codes.

Send this toad back to Israel.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | December 15, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

But.......the Democrats do not have a filibuster proof majority. Lieberman has proven that over and over. This is like watching Charlie Brown try to kick the football.

Posted by: Rhody1 | December 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/14/AR2009121402712.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Off topic, but did any of you catch Eugene Robinson's column on Palin's about face on climate change? It really just blew my mind how she embraced the science when she was governor since Alaska is a state that is heavily impacted by climate change. Now she is no longer willing to protect her state or the environment in favor of celebrity.

I knew that she was unprincipled, but this really struck me as a new low.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman crossed a line with this one. He will not be re-elected as Senator of Conn.

Posted by: thebobbob | December 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"and he'll get re-elected in Connecticut because the voters like "him. '

ROFLOL -- not any more.

Lieberman must explain his switch

The art of the flip-flop is a delicate one. Usually, politicians attempt to finesse their way into a change of opinion, citing changing circumstances or unforeseen conditions. For an elected leader to simply switch sides, tell us he's against what he recently favored -- that takes some serious gumption.

Take Sen. Joe Lieberman. Not two months ago, he reiterated to this newspaper his opposition to the so-called public option in a health-reform package. Instead, he suggested, by allowing people who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid to buy in for a rate below the private market, the government could extend coverage to more of the uninsured.
That sounds clear enough.

As Senate health care negotiations continued, the focus turned away from the public option and toward Lieberman's idea -- allowing some younger Americans to buy into government-run Medicare.

On Sunday, though, the senator changed his mind. He told Senate leaders to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare or lose his vote. Because he represents one of the 60 votes needed to end debate and vote on a bill, his threat must be taken seriously.

The audacity, at least, is impressive.

As we have said in the past, Lieberman is of course free to vote his conscience. If he thinks it's a bad bill, by all means, vote against it.

But that's not what he's saying. He won't even vote to allow a vote -- all because the bill contains a provision he supported as recently as September and as long ago as the 2000 election.
He's hardly bothered to explain his change in position, and instead seems to delight at once again claiming the spotlight as the indispensable man in the Senate deliberations.

He should drop this charade and come up with a coherent explanation for his recent behavior. He should not join a filibuster against the bill.'

http://www.connpost.com/editorials/ci_13995430

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

You are being way too kind to Joe Lieberman who is wholly owned by the health insurance industry. They have also enriched his wife, Hadassah.

And, what, no mention of how he supported this same Medicare plan 3 months ago? Curious to leave that out.

However, this is one progressive who believes that this is exactly what President Obama wanted. He made no effort to get Lieberman in line, or lobby for a public option.

I think I am fairly representative of the progressive base of the Democratic party, and I have chosen to leave the party.

I, and many like me, will no longer defend, or advocate for the party. We will not give a dime to the DNC. From now on, we support only progressive candidates, from either party. If that fails, it's 3rd party time.

The Democrats and Obama are in for an extremely rude awakening come 2010.

For the reasons:
http://leliorisen.blogspot.com/2009/12/im-deserting-dem-party-that-deserted-us.html

Posted by: leliorisen | December 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman is a Democrat through and through--exept on a very few issues--and he'll get re-elected in Connecticut because the voters like him.
The only reason that he's an Independent is because the Democrap Socialists, that control the nominations there, wanted someone that was more of a Socialist and Communist as they are, which Joe wasn't.
It wasn't Joe Lieberman that abandoned and was a traitor to his party, as a lot of the usual liberal lowlife and very stupid commenters here have falsely claimed, but the other way around. It was the Democrap Socialist Party that threw their own VP candidate of Hanoi John Kerry under the bus, primarily because he supported President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, while they wanted us to cut and run for the hills with our militaries tails between our legs--a la Vietnam when they were able to cut off all funding for that war because they, like today, controlled both Houses of Congress.
The Obama worshippers here though don't have to worry about Joe Liebermans vote, other than his support for a strong US military. While Joe Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably only because of his rabit support for Israel, it's practically the only issue that he and the Republicans agree on. He'll probably vote with the Democrap Socialists on everything else.

Posted by: armpeg | December 15, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Franken smacks down Thune for lying:

'Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) challenged Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in a startlingly tense exchange yesterday, slamming Thune's apparent looseness with the truth by saying, "We're not entitled to our own facts."

Yesterday afternoon Thune took to the Senate floor with a chart that tried to illustrate how the Senate health care reform bill supposedly proposes tax increases immediately while "many of the benefits don't start getting paid out for another 1,479 days."

Franken was having none of it. Franken took issue with Thune's chart, rising to the floor minutes later to challenge its assertions. What followed was an unusually tense exchange between Thune -- fourth in the Senate GOP leadership -- and the freshman Franken.'

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/franken-challenges-thune-were-not-entitled-to-our-own-facts.php?ref=fpb

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: cincinnatusdc | December 15, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

LIEBERMAN SOLD HIS SOUL TO THE SECURITY STATE LONG AGO...

Sen. Lieberman has sold out to the security/intel/corporate complex. What else can explain his political suicide -- and why he won't he address credible reports of civil and human rights abuses involving Homeland Security, Pentagon and intel agencies? He, of all people, should realize what happens when tyranny is not challenged. Senator, it is not too late to redeem your standing. Shed your self-centered naivete and do something about THIS:

***

OBAMA WRONG: U.S. DOES TORTURE -- ITS OWN CITIZENS, SAYS VETERAN JOURNALIST

• Regional Homeland Security- administered fusion centers use a nationwide microwave/laser radiation "directed energy" weapons system, employing cell towers and satellites, to silently, invisibly torture, impair, physiologically and neurologically subjugate unconstitutionally "targeted" Americans and their families -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight.

http://nowpublic.com/world/obama-wrong-unaware-u-s-does-torture-its-own-citizens
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR (if link is corrupted): NowPublic.com/scrivener re: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 15, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"that move would almost certainly drive the Connecticut Independent out of the Democratic caucus and eliminate the party's filibuster proof majority."

Prima facie the Democratic party does not hold a filibuster proof majority in the senate. How can you write that given current events?

So there's nothing to lose, and at least some grim satisfaction to gain.

Posted by: patrickinmaine | December 15, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

This is more of an indication of the utter weakness of Reid and the entire liberal leadership.

Posted by: ZOUK | December 15, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"The North Dakota Republican Party has a humorous new image on its front page today: A "Joke of the day" that just so happens to involve President Obama's birth certificate.

The picture shows the photo of President Obama shaking hands with state dinner party-crasher Michaele Salahi. Obama is given a speech balloon in which he asks to see Salahi's invitation. She answers: "If I can see your birth certificate!"

I asked Adam Jones, political director for the North Dakota GOP, whether it was appropriate to have a joke involving the president allegedly not being born in this country. "You said the keyword, Eric," he replied. "It's a joke."

I asked again whether he thinks this is a proper thing to put on a state party's homepage. "I think it is a joke, and that would be my only comment for you," he said."

Yes, it's a joke. Just like the joke the GOP is becoming.

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is living proof that there should be a mechanism to recall a senator. Lieberman will continue to do damage to the people of CT and America for three more years.
He will not run in 2012, he will take the insurance company bribes he and his wife have been paid and retire to Florida.

Posted by: The-Historian | December 15, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

MerrillFrank wrote:
Holy Joe ought to look at his beloved Israel which has a national health plan similar to the Dutch or German systems. The doctors are private, insurance companies are highly regulated and there is a public plan.

And the Billions of Dollars the U.S. gives Israel allows Israelis to enjoy national health care at U.S. Taxpayers expense.

Lieberman is Israel's senator.

Posted by: The-Historian | December 15, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Democrats have the option of using "Reconciliation" which has nothing to do with bipartisanship, but would allow them to pass with 51 votes, not 60.

If they don't basically tell the Republicans, the blue-dog Dems, and Leiberman to go to hell and do 51 votes, they are as guilty as everyone else is of betrayal of us all, and should be blasted fired.

At this point, having been PRO him, given the "WH" wants it passed "before Christmas" even if it means NO public option, that includes Obama, who has proven himself total void of honoring his promises, betraying us, and catering to the Insurance lobbyists!

Posted by: rm8471 | December 15, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

We cannot let one man decide whether millions of people get access to coverage..it is time that bullying and push back stop and that we would the right thing..not only is this country looking at this but so is the world..

Posted by: notmd | December 15, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

drindl wrote:
"..Fox yesterday ran a handful of segments on the same basic premise — cutting the minimum wage may be the answer to the jobs dilemma..."

Interesting, Lane's column was the second in the last couple of weeks advocating rolling back the minimum wage.
But many of fox viewers are probably earning minimum wages so it will be interesting to see their reaction to taking a pay cut.
fox will be cautious about their advocacy since it could backfire on them. Imagine outraged teabaggers reacting to a minimum wage cut.

Posted by: The-Historian | December 15, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled to see 3 parties at work in Washington. It is a reaL shame LIEBERMAN is it. Time to bury Lieberman.

By the time the Republicans and Lieberman are finished we won't have health care at all. The democrats don't have the testes to stand up to anyone an the Republicans are continuing the Third Reich, I mean Right.

Posted by: jbwfoto | December 15, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

And as Ahnold, says, Sarah just used the WaPo, and they let her use them:

"One of the biggest critics of efforts to curb climate change is former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who recently called global warming “bogus.” In a wide-ranging interview with The Financial Times, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger objected to Palin’s characterization of global warming, and suggested that she is playing politics:

The California governor has become an environmental standard bearer for the Republican party, which is split on the merits of curbing emissions. Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election, has attacked cap and trade and questioned any link between man-made emissions and global warming.

“You have to ask: what was she trying to accomplish? ” said Mr Schwarzenegger. “Is she really interested in this subject or is she interested in her career and in winning the [Republican] nomination [for president]? You have to take all these things with a grain of salt.”

As Eugene Robinson points out in his Washington Post column today, Palin wasn’t always so deeply in denial about climate change. In 2007, she signed an administrative order that created a sub-cabinet to investigate ways to deal with climate change. “Climate change is not just an environmental issue,” the Alaskan governor wrote at the time. “It is also a social, cultural, and economic issue important to all Alaskans.”

she was against climate change before she was for it...

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Holy Joe ought to look at his beloved Israel which has a national health plan similar to the Dutch or German systems. The doctors are private, insurance companies are highly regulated and there is a public plan.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 15, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

solnoir wrote:
"I can honestly say Republicans would have had a bill on the President's desk at least two months ago."

Republicans will never send a health care bill to the president unless there is a government subsidy paid to the health care industry. It's time to use reconciliation to get health care passed.

This is a clear example that there are three parties in congress. The democrats happen to have a coalition with the third party at the moment. The third party is the so-called blue dogs. During the cheney/bush administration the blue dogs were in the republican coalition.

Posted by: The-Historian | December 15, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh look, the waPo's Charles Lane is now FOX's new darling:

'Now, with its Republican-inspired “Where are the jobs?” campaign in full swing, Fox has gone “on the job hunt” with a “new” idea for increasing employment: cutting the minimum wage. Jumping off from an op-ed by Washington Post editorial board member Charles Lane, Fox yesterday ran a handful of segments on the same basic premise — cutting the minimum wage may be the answer to the jobs dilemma.

Fox’s anchors seemed very pleased to have stumbled onto this line of thought. Of course, none of the anchors mention that almost all of the economic research on the subject shows that the minimum wage has little to no effect on employment. The most well-known researchers on the subject — David Card and Alan Krueger — examined a minimum wage increase in New Jersey, and found that “employment actually expanded in New Jersey relative to Pennsylvania, where the minimum wage was constant.”

What with him and Sarah Palin as climate scientist, the WaPo is quickly brnging up its creds among the teabag cult.

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Why aren't the more liberal democrats saying, no public opinion, no vote?
Do they not really care about it?

Posted by: edlharris | December 15, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

There is other legislation the Democrats in the Senate may need Lieberman's cloture vote to pursue, plus he'll likely vote with them on most of Obama's judicial nominiations, or at least on cloture.

(Bear in mind that Justice Stevens may retire at the end of the current Supreme Court term, which will kick off another partisan slug-fest where every potential vote is helpful.)

Don't look for any action among Senate Democrats on Lieberman until after the 2010 election results are final, and then only if the Dems have 61+ members in their caucus (or maybe if they fall below 58).

Posted by: Gallenod | December 15, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

though lieberman is probably genuinely against the medicare buy-in, could his surprise opposition also not in some way be personal? i was remembering when obama "dragged Lieberman by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber" last year and gave him a talking to. one wouldn't think that something which happened more than a year ago would still linger and influence such an important policy position. but, it just seems like lieberman wants to back obama against a wall just like obama (literally) backed him against a wall last year.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/04/lieberman-carries-mccains_n_105179.html

Posted by: plathman | December 15, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. LIEberman is nothing but a "beard" for Traitor Joe. She plays the part of a public advocate while Traitor Joe rakes in the dough from the insurance monopoly. She is every bit as much a shill as he is.

Neither of them should ever be welcome again in any public advocacy organization including the US Congress, where Traitor Joe and his ilk should not even be trusted with the role of toilet attendant.

For the republican corporatist handpuppets like the LIEbermans, the goal is not health care reform. Like the vastly failed republican't party, this just another opportunity to profit at public expense.

For those with serious interest in controlling health care injustices and exponential cost escallations, republican'ts have nothing of value to offer. The republican't goal is failure. Failure for our President, our Congress, our economy, our health care system, our energy crisis. In brief, all the things the previous totally incompetent and failed republican't leadership (including Traitor Joe) have already destroyed!

Over two terms of the, "republican reign of error", these failed republican war criminals had no problem spending a TRILLION dollars to kill 1,366,350 Iraqis, mostly innocent non-combatant women and children.

Now they and the LIEbermans are against spending that would save the lives of 45 THOUSAND innocent American infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, women, men, and elderly US Citizens!

The republican'ts and Traitor Joe are now more dangerous to US Citizens than al-Quaeda.

Their war on health care reform is conclusive proof that the republican't party, it's vastly failed leadership, hypocritically moronic media lackeys, demented constituents, and self serving corporatist agenda are not only the sworn enemy of 45 THOUSAND innocent American infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, women, men, and elderly US Citizens.

They are the proven enemy of our Nation, our Constitution, and The American People.

If we can afford an illegitimate pre-emptive republican war without end, we can and must afford to save the lives of 45,000 US Citizens who will die without needed health care insurance.

Failure by ANY Legislator to do so, will never be forgiven or forgotten!

The avoidable DEATHS of 45 THOUSAND US Citizens will be AVENGED at the polls.

Posted by: MrTruth | December 15, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

His only value to the caucus is in voting to break a filibuster on major Democratic priorities. Remember, he doesn't have to vote for the Dem proposal, just to break the filibuster.

If he won't fulfill that one function, I see no reason whatsoever to grant him a chairmanship or keep him in the caucus.

Posted by: nodebris | December 15, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Liebermann is just enjoying his last stay in the limelight before he leaves the senate next election cycle. The Democrats and GOP will both put up real candidates and he will get smoked next election.

On most issues Liebermann votes with the Democrats, especially on spending bills which are the bread and butter of the congress. He will also vote with the Democrats on banking reform and climate change legislation. After that is passed they can kick him out if they want, although I think it is short-sided. Liebermann's opposition of medicare expansion may set up a situation where Olympia Snowe votes for the bill. If that happens than its a win for Reid and the dems.

Posted by: AndyR3 | December 15, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Obviously the Democrats want to be big tent in order to expand their numbers, and they will have to forgive Landrieu, Pryor, Nelson, etc. for breaking with the party from time to time, but why put up with this nonsense from Lieberman? He runs sharply counter to the wishes of his constituents. He hails from a deep blue state. Strip him of his chairmanships and that's even less reason for Connecticut to re-elect him.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 15, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It won't, nodebris. The Dem leadership has to realize that Lieberman is a liar, that he is two-faced, that he does not keep his word, that he is disloyal and they cannot depend on him --and just give up on him. The man is hopeless.

He is more of a republican, and a far right one at that, every day.

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"but that move would almost certainly drive the Connecticut Independent out of the Democratic caucus and eliminate the party's filibuster proof majority."

Yeah, the filibuster-proof majority that allows them to pass healthcare refo...oh, right.

With Lieberman, it's not worth it. He needs to be cut loose.

Posted by: SeanC1 | December 15, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

If Lieberman takes pride in bucking party discipline and claims to vote his conscience (I'm gagging while writing that), then how would driving him out of the Democratic caucus change anything?

Posted by: nodebris | December 15, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman has moved to true independent status. His decision to caucus with the Democrats is no more than a marriage of convenience. The party has the illusion of a filibuster proof majority and he gets the real power of a committee chair. I predict challenges to his status following the 2010 election, if not sooner.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 15, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

If he kills all public options, he's gone. All his toys get taken. There will be no choice for Dem leaders, 8 of 10 Dems already think his chairmainships should have been yanked long ago.

Posted by: drindl | December 15, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Do Democrats really have a fillibuster proof majority? In theory yes, but they can't even get Lieberman to negotiate honestly. What do they lose by kicking him out their caucus? Is he going to vote Republican out of spite? Isn't that what he's doing anyway? I wish Democrats in Congress (the Senate especially) would grow some backbone. I can honestly say Republicans would have had a bill on the President's desk at least two months ago.

Posted by: Solnoir | December 15, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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