Joe Lieberman

Given that the hallowed halls of the US Senate currently hold everyone from Evan Bayh to Jim Inhofe, it’s quite a feat to be the single most contemptible individual in the bunch. But Joe Lieberman really takes the cake, and this latest stunt just proves it.

Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around. There are his defenders in the media, such as Charles Lane, who validate his pathology by mischaracterizing it as a series of brave, noble stands. But Lieberman’s greatest enablers–and therefore the people who really have to answer for this–are the leaders in the Democratic Party who have spent years refusing to exert any sort of pressure on him. These are the people who refused to support their own party’s nominee in 2006. The people who wanted Lieberman to keep all of the perks and prestige of being a ranking member of the caucus in 2008, despite having actively campaigned against the party.

The most prominent members of that group are, of course, Barack Obama* and Harry Reid, the latter of whom has insisted on flagrantly ignoring the party’s Lieberman problem at every available opportunity.

If the health care bill still passes–and I think it will–it will have been significantly weakened thanks to Lieberman. But the silver lining will be if the Democratic Party finally–finally–learns its lesson.

The lesson is this, and it’s a fairly simple, intuitive one: If you’re building a governing political coalition, and there are certain individuals who want to enjoy a significant amount of prestige within this institution, then they should demonstrate their usefulness first. If, however, they actively work to undermine the coalition’s agenda at every available turn, they should be made an example of.

In more concrete terms: When this is over, Lieberman should be stripped of his chairmanship and seniority. But that’s not all. He should be publicly called out by other members of the caucus. The Connecticut Democratic Party should start openly shopping around for someone to run against him. If the DNC’s got anything else like the above video lying around, they should leak it promptly.

In other words, Lieberman should be publicly humiliated, repeatedly and vigorously. And not just because that will provide me with immense satisfaction; it will also send a message to Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, and any other member of the Democratic Party who wants to make a career out of blithely stomping on the Democratic agenda. The message is this: We’ll only be useful to you if you’re useful to us. The only point of having 60 seats is the 60 reliable votes we should be getting as a result. If you’re not going to play ball with us, we can do with 59, and you can try your luck on the other side of the aisle. Although I hear they’re not too “big tent” these days, either.

Let the pundits spend a couple weeks wailing about how the Democrats are “purging” Lieberman from the party. Nobody’s used to seeing the Democrats actually enforce party discipline, but it’s long overdue.

*Obama was nominally a Lamont supporter in 2006, if you consider sending one email out to a few thousand party-line Democrats “support.”

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4 Responses

  1. I second this.
    Besides overtly or passively petitioning the Democratic party, what can *we* (be it average citizens, CT Democrats, or just you, our friends, and I) do to publicly humiliate Joe Lieberman? And is there any way we can take away his Senate seat before 2012?

  2. I wholeheartedly agree – the sooner this man is removed from public ‘disservice’ the better for everyone

  3. I would find deep satisfaction in watching Lieberman lose his chairmanship and then get ousted from the Senate.

    BUT I think it would be the wrong choice. He’s been a strong voice for cap & trade and the caucus is going to need him and his vote when the time comes. Could he keep screwing the Dems? Sure. If he does, definitely strip him of his chair and seniority.

    Either way, he’s gone in 2012 – we might as well take advantage of his alignment on enviro policy.

  4. Could he keep screwing the Dems? Sure. If he does, definitely strip him of his chair and seniority.

    Problem is, we’ve been listening to that song for years. When is enough enough?

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