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Joe Lieberman (#110 of 3)

The Lieberman Problem

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The Lieberman Problem
The Lieberman Problem

“I don’t think we need it now,” a prominent U.S. senator said in a statement yesterday regarding a public health care option, and it wasn’t a Republican. Once again, “Democrat” Joe Lieberman has gone rogue. Shortly after the 2008 election, I posited a scenario under which Lieberman, who failed at almost every turn to use his chairmanship on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to hold the Bush administration accountable, would become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration. Democrats, led by the new president, refused to strip Lieberman of his title or his seat in the Democratic caucus after the Connecticut senator not only campaigned against his own party during the presidential election, but did so rather unscrupulously.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said then that he trusted Lieberman, but this new development in the seesawing life of the so-called public option should come as no surprise: Lieberman went on record as being against a filibuster-proof majority months ago, and he’s fought against his own party on key issues for years. Until now, it’s been his position on foreign policy that has been most troubling (it’s disturbing, if not downright dangerous, to have a politician who pals around with a hatemonger like John Hagee simply because—even though Hagee’s position on Israel is based on his belief that the preservation of the Jews is integral to the coming Rapture—he supports his Zionist agenda to chair a national security congressional committee), but Lieberman’s maverick-y impulses are now poised to kill what could potentially be a transformative piece of domestic legislation. According to Firedoglake, if Lieberman votes against cloture, the process by which Democrats can prevent a filibuster by Republicans, it will be the first time in American history that a member of a super-majority has joined the opposition to filibuster a bill.

The Real Maverick

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The Real Maverick
The Real Maverick

While Hillary Clinton once again dominates the headlines, this time as Barack Obama’s possible Secretary of State, another one of the President-elect’s former rivals is making waves in Washington. It’s admirable that Obama has recommended that Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman retain both his seat in the Democratic caucus as well as his chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and it certainly jibes with his apparent desire to create a “team of rivals” akin to that of the one described in presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling book of the same name. After all, Democrats won the election and there’s always room in the hearts and minds of the victorious for forgiveness, for letting bygones be bygones. But just as it was with Sarah Palin, all one needs to do is look back on what was said and done, and more importantly, how it was said and done, to understand the lingering bad blood, and in the case of Lieberman, the desire on the part of many in Congress to see him stripped of his title.

When John McCain stumbled over this own made-up multi-syllabic epithet “redistributionist” at a swing-state rally two days before the election, Lieberman could be seen just over the Republican candidate’s right shoulder, where he resided for the entirety of the campaign, chuckling and grinning in agreement with every word that fell from McCain’s mouth, every attack on Obama’s character and patriotism, and every reproach of the Democratic policies on which he sturdily built his career over the last four decades. The one-time vice presidential Democratic candidate’s defection from the party—specifically on issues like the Iraq War, national security and torture (he described disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s position on the Geneva Conventions as “reasonable” and “progressive”)—were such that he lost the Democratic primary in his own state two years ago and was forced to run as a third-party independent. Next to Lieberman, the original Maverick himself looks like a stubborn party stalwart.

Notes on the RNC #3: It’s Wonk-a Vision

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Notes on the RNC #3: It’s Wonk-a Vision
Notes on the RNC #3: It’s Wonk-a Vision

Gustav’s threat seemingly over, day two of the RNC was a return to semi normalcy. For all my grousing Tuesday about the wall-to-wall coverage the hurricane received on the news channels, I was equally taken aback by how quickly things snapped back to business as usual.