>> Friday, November 21, 2008
Terence Samuel at TAP has a piece up on why allowing Lieberman to retain his job as head of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is not such a big problem. The heart of the argument is that Lieberman has been boxed in by Obama and the Dems grand gesture of magnanimity,
Where will Lieberman's "independence of mind" lead him next?
My suspicion is nowhere, because whatever vestiges of self-respect Lieberman had left fell away entirely this week. At least standing beside McCain as firmly as he did -- under intensely hostile fire from Democrats -- made him seem, in his own way, courageous and principled. For him to now say, "I didn't mean it," that it was just the "heat of the campaign" seems craven and weak.
Still the narrative that emerged this week was that Lieberman's shape-shifting abilities had saved him yet again. He was the survivor. But while he will chair a powerful and important committee, Lieberman has no margin for error. While Harry Reid and Democrats -- salivating over the potential of having 60 filibuster-busting votes -- made their deal with the devil to preserve the possibility, Lieberman has tied his fate to the whims of a Democratic caucus that will regard him with an unstable mix of caution and suspicion. His days as a free agent are over.
Even if they get it, the 60-vote threshold will not be as critical as Democrats hope. But pretend for a moment that the undecided Senate races in Minnesota and Georgia turn in the Democrats' favor, and they get their 60 votes with Lieberman and Bernie Sanders. How often would Lieberman be allowed to defy the wishes of the party to follow his "independence of mind?"
This is a solid reflection of the conventional wisdom formed around this incident. Of course it totally ignores the fact that lieberman is bad at his job. The man failed as committee chair. All that aside this article lacks something really important when talking about Joe Lieberman, what is going to motivate him to stay in line?
There is repeated mention that Joe has no margin for independence but no justification of why this is so. The implication is that if Joe acts out he gets booted but that is a much more difficult task than it seems. TO boot joe requires a floor vote vulnerable to a filibuster by the GOP and the optics look terrible. The dems try to bounce joe just when he looks like an independent watch dog conducting serious investigations into Obama's administration. Joe owed Obama before when he campaigned for him in 2006. Joe begged Obama to come help him out and he did. Joe repaid that with a big knife in the back.
The dems have no control over what Joe lieberman does despite all their protestations to the contrary. Joe is going to do what he feels like because he has correctly learned that there are no consequences for his actions. All will be forgiven in the name of "bi-partisanship".