Not like there’s anything more important that Obama could be spending his energies on. From Roll Call (no link, subscription only):
Support for Lieberman appears to have been growing since Obama began making calls to several top Democrats to discuss the Connecticut Senator’s status. Since then, several senior Senators began making statements that seemed to indicate a willingness to let Lieberman retain his gavel.
In addition to telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he would like for Senate Democrats to find a way to keep Lieberman in the Democratic fold, Obama has had similar conversations with other top Democrats – including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Lieberman’s home-state colleague, Dodd, sources said.
Obama is close with all four of those Senators, each of whom endorsed him in his quest to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination this year….
Still, many Democrats are wary of letting Lieberman walk away unscathed, given it could make Reid – and the whole caucus – look weak. Lieberman’s transgressions against the party are multifold, his critics say, including aggressively criticizing Obama’s candidacy while stumping for McCain, campaigning for Senate Republican incumbents and arguing that it would be dangerous for Senate Democrats to reach a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats.
In fact, some Democrats said foes of Lieberman might argue next Tuesday that Lieberman went too far in campaigning against Senate Democrats this cycle – notably, stepping at the last minute to defend moderate Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) from attacks by Democratic challenger Al Franken. That race is now headed to a recount with Franken trailing Coleman by just a few hundred votes.
Here’s what I think is going on. Obama (read: Rahm) has decided that:
1. Magnanimity shows “change” in action.
2. The Senate may very well get 60 Democrats after the races in Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia are decided. That is, if Lieberman caucuses with the Dems, we’ll have 60.
3. 60 Dems helps Obama push his “change” agenda – with 60 votes we can beat a GOP filibuster. If Lieberman owes his political life to President Obama, he’ll be more likely to vote with Dems, vote with Obama.
4. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rahm hasn’t sweetened the deal to promise Lieberman a cabinet post in Obama II, the second term, if Lieberman is a good lap dog during Obama I.
But here are a few problems:
Lieberman is untrustworthy scum. He tried to help Norm Coleman at the last minute in Minnesota. He associated Obama with terrorists, called him a “celebrity,” suggested that an Obama presidency would compromise America’s national security, said that Obama tried to cut off funding to the troops – Lieberman even appeared with McCain at his final campaign rally the night before the election. Lieberman helped perpetuate GOP blood lies against Democrats after he specifically promised not to. So trusting Lieberman now is an interesting prospect.
Short of abducting a small child, it’s not clear what more Lieberman could do to be worthy of some sort of punishment.
Letting Lieberman off the hook not only risks Traitor Joe using his committee chair status, and money and staff, to investigate the Obama administration, and stymie Democratic efforts to fix the problem that is Iraq. But there’s a larger concern here. Letting Lieberman off the hook for endorsing the other guy for president, and speaking at the GOP convention, no less, sends a message that Democrats have no backbone, that there is no price to paid for turning against your own party. It sends a message that no member of Congress need side with Obama, or the Democratic leadership, ever again. How are you going to punish any other Senator for voting the wrong way on any piece of legislation when Joe Lieberman tried to sabotage the entire party and got a committee chair out of it?
Or put it another way: How are you going to get 60 votes when there’s no incentive for 60 Senators to vote your way? When there’s no price to paid for voting against you? When in fact, you’ll be far better off in the long run standing up to the Democrats and publicly shitting on them, only to have them lucratively woo you back into the fold to reconstitute that Magic 60. In fact, every Democratic Senator has just been given license to walk, fast, from every filibuster that ever happens. If you screw the party, if you tell Harry Reid you’re not voting with him, if you publicly denounce Obama the night before the filibuster vote, you will reap a wealth of riches when Obama and the Democratic leadership desperately try to woo you back. Pull a Lieberman and the gates of Heaven are yours. Talk about mixed messages. Talk about killing the 60 vote majority by trying to save it.
There is no discipline. There is no backbone. There are no consequences for your actions. This is your Democratic party.