Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Traitor Joe

(Cross-posted from guy2k)

The headlines read “Lieberman says he won’t be beholden to Republicans if he wins,” but that’s not really what Joe says.

Lieberman has said (in so many words, usually) that he’ll caucus with the Democrats if returned to the Senate, but here’s what Joe said on Monday about his long journey from Democratic primary loser to Lieberman for Lieberman Party front-runner:

It's taken me as an independent-minded Democrat and really empowered me to be more independent

Just so we understand, since he used to be, nominally, a Democrat, when Joe says he’s going to be more independent, it means he’s going to tilt more often than he already has toward the Republicans. In a Senate filled with Democrats and Republicans, where Lieberman will theoretically owe whatever seniority he has to Democratic leadership, the independence Joe seeks to establish will be independence from Democrats. And unless Joe plans on abstaining from every yea or nay vote, and saying “no comment” in every interview, what will establish Lieberman as independent from Democrats will be votes for or with Republicans, and statements that either support President Bush and his party, or, at the very least, attack Democrats and their positions. (In fact, one very good reason to keep Lieberman out of Washington would be to keep him from clogging up the “Democrat” slot on the Sunday morning talk shows—maybe we could get some real Democratic positions articulated there instead.)

Lieberman is definitely, to my mind, signaling all of that, but I think he’s even hinting at more. I think Lieberman is laying the groundwork for yet another adventure in opportunism. Should the Democrats take five seats from Republicans in today’s elections, the Senate will be split 50-50. But with that divide, all ties will be broken by the Vice President, which means Republicans retain their functional majority for deciding things like committee chairmanships.

Now, it is no secret that, should Lieberman win on Tuesday, and should the Senate split be that close, Republicans will woo Joe Lieberman (who has already received baskets of cash from Republicans), either with a committee chairmanship as a reward for switching parties, or with the promise of the Secretary of Defense slot (should Bush drop his election season charade and move to head off a full-scale revolt by the military). If Lieberman were to take a cabinet post (likely the highest office he could ever hope to attain at this point in his career, and maybe his last shot at it), his vacant Senate seat would be filled by an appointee of the Governor of Connecticut (who, if the polls are correct, will be Republican Jodi Rell*), meaning Joe’s replacement will be an actual Republican.

In sum, if Joe Lieberman is elected to the Senate today, Connecticut, and America, will either get Lieberman acting like a Republican, Lieberman switching to be a Republican, or some other Republican.

Nobody wants that. Instead, if you live in the Nutmeg State, vote for Ned Lamont, the nominee of the Democratic Party. If you have friends or family in Connecticut, give them a call, and urge them to get out and vote for the Democrats—all of them, all of the real ones.

*I don’t want to slight the Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut, John DeStefano. DeStefano is head and shoulders a better choice than Governor Rell, and DeStefano was endorsed by both the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register, but John has had trouble getting his message out because of all the noise generated by Lieberman’s insurgent run at the Senate. So add Jodi Rell to the list of Republicans Lieberman has helped.


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