Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don’t make him angry. . .

. . . because you won’t. . . oh, never mind.

"I pretty well understand anger," said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid after the vote of the Democratic caucus.

"I would defy anyone to be more angry than I was but I also believe that if you look at the problems we face as a nation, is this a time we walk out of here saying, 'boy, did we get even?'"

By now you know about the vote within the Democratic Caucus that allowed Republican sock-puppet Joe Lieberman to retain his seniority and his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

In a deal that was brokered behind the scenes over the weekend, Lieberman was forced to step down from his seat one the Environment and Public Works Committee. (A tiny slap on the wrist, but I will try to make a little lemonade here by hoping that this might help kill off once and for all the Lieberman-Warner global warming “effort”—which was a faux-solution designed to check off a box on a congressional to-do list without actually doing anywhere near enough.)

Of course, I, and any other honest, caring Democrats, don’t give a damn about how angry Harry Reid might have been. I’ve been angry at Joe Lieberman for a decade now because of so very many things that he has done to betray his party, his state, and his country—but anger has nothing to do with it. Neither does “getting even.”

Nor, honestly, does the possibility that Lieberman will make the 60th vote in a cloture-ific super-majority (congratulations to our latest Democratic Senator-elect, Mark Begich, by the way). That was just another straw man thrown out there by Senate leaders and media elites to distract us from what this was really all about.

Even if Minnesota’s Al Franken and Georgia’s Jim Martin go on to join the other 56 Democrats and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate majority, Joe Lieberman (Party of One-CT) will never be the 60th vote on any matter of importance—and I promise you that will include attempts to end roadblock Republican filibusters. Never.

Remember, Joe was a member of the “Gang of Fourteen,” a group of supposedly “centrist” Senators that undercut Democratic attempts to stop a series of ultra-right Bush nominees from littering the federal bench.

Remember, Joe wouldn’t even vote for cloture on a non-binding resolution to condemn the lawlessness of former AG Alberto Gonzales—when even seven Republicans found the courage to do just that.

Remember, Joe was the guy who just last month warned how dangerous it would be if Democrats controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress. . . and campaigned like crazy to try and prevent that from happening.

(Some talking heads like to tell us that Joe won’t matter because Republicans like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and/or Arlen Specter will be willing to join with Democrats on a whole host of issues; color me unconvinced—I could give numerous examples of all three talking tough and then voting with their party on a litany of important issues.)

No one was seriously arguing that Lieberman should be kicked out of the Democratic caucus (because no one ever asked me), but those that understand the dynamics of power were arguing that Joe needed to be stripped of his committee chairmanship. If Democrats had done that, it would have permanently marginalized Lieberman with little effect on any majorities Dems might amass. Lieberman might have switched parties (though I don’t think that was anywhere near certain, since he had little to gain by doing so), and I expect that he will vote with the Republicans just as often as a nominal “Independent Democrat” because Lieberman has shown time and again that he has no respect for the Democratic Party or, honestly, much of what it stands for. And he has proven that he has no sense of allegiance or gratitude to those that have helped him in the past.

What Joe was never serious about was resigning his seat so that Connecticut Governor Jody Rell, a Republican, could appoint a Republican to replace him. Never would have happened. Not in a million years. I know, and you know, Joe is all about Joe (and practically nothing else), and Joe would never willingly give up the power or the fundraising prowess of his Senate seat. (Seriously, I was amazed resignation was even being discussed on the news shows—it was absurd.)

Now, thanks to Reid’s all-anger-no-action reaction, and similar behavior from a majority of his colleagues, we have the worst of all possible worlds (yes, I said possible—see above). Lieberman will never help his caucus in any meaningful way—I just know this—but he will hurt them, likely repeatedly.

As head of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Joe the Chairman could have used his position to investigate many of the misdeeds of the Bush Administration, but he did nothing of the sort (absolutely nothing). But in that same seat during the Obama Administration, just watch and see if Lieberman suddenly finds the need for scrutiny and oversight (and lo unto the Democrats if they then try to remove or silence him—not only would taking away his gavel mid-session require a Senate vote subject to filibuster, it would unleash the right wing and establishment media hounds).

Watch and see if Joe doesn’t convene some new “gang” of some number—a group of pretend moderates who only exist to thwart Obama Administration or progressive Democratic initiatives—to create for himself a sense of importance and a renewed media interest. I am expecting this, too.

And watch, because you will have no choice but to watch, as the Liar of the Senate goes on news show after news show, filling the designated Democratic seat, and then using the opportunity to bash President Obama or fellow Democrats. He did it throughout the campaign, and, indeed, throughout the last four years (or more), and that was when he supposedly had something to lose; I can pretty much guarantee this will come to pass.

For a generation now, party loyalists and pundits alike have turned with some self-assurance to the pseudo-amusing saw “Democrats never fail to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.” But with the elections of 2006 and 2008, it seemed, if just for a moment, that Democrats might have put that one to bed—but that was before Joe made Harry the Hulk angry. . . . And, I guess Nevada’s answer to Bruce Banner was right—at least for me—I don’t like him when he’s angry.

(With apologies to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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