Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kossacks' Tantrum over Lieberman Shows Democrats' Fundamental Weakness

The Kossacks have been writing furiously yesterday and today about the Senate Democratic leadership's handling of Senator Joe Lieberman. This anger-fest is particularly amusing because of yesterday's post by Jed L (author of the Jed Report) on the so-called Republican "circular firing squad". To borrow (a revised version of) Jed's opening line, "Ah, don't you love Democratic infighting?"

The coverage on DK began in earnest yesterday with posts by Kos himself. Kos clearly wanted Lieberman drawn and quartered for supporting McCain's Presidential campaign. He was delighted when Lieberman's allies turned on him, calling for "significant consequences" (namely, stripping him of powerful committee leadership appointments). Noting that there was nevertheless a movement afoot to minimize these "consequences", Kos wrote:

The American people voted overwhelmingly, in landslide numbers, for change. Lieberman is George Bush's most faithful ally on Iraq, and his continued chairmanship of the committee tasked with national security would be spitting in the face of the American electorate.

It's looking like maybe, just maybe, the caucus truly does realize it and plans to act accordingly.

In a subsequent Monday post, Kos complained that the Senate Democrats planned to vote on the Lieberman issue using a secret ballot process:
Now these senators may not care what their constituents think. But given the American people voted overwhelmingly for change, keeping George Bush's best friend on Iraq in his committee, removing him in favor of someone in tune with popular sentiment (and the incoming administration) should be a no-brainer. And if the Senate spits in the face of this desire for change, then at the very least they should have the balls to own up to it.

Interesting, isn't it, that what Senate Democratic leaders feel is best for American workers (namely, Card Check, which is an Obama priority), is not good enough for them? Unions should be able to harass workers publicly into joining a union, but Senate Democrats do not have to reveal to each other or their constituents whether they supported or opposed Lieberman.

Next, Kagro X argued that the District of Columbia should not be represented by Lieberman because Obama carried DC by a 93% margin. "Wait a minute," you say, "doesn't Lieberman represent Connecticut, not DC? DC doesn't have a Senator!" Here's how it works:

And as you're no doubt aware, the District's affairs are fairly closely overseen by Congress. It's not a state, and as a federal district, Congress has a pretty big say in how it gets run and who runs it.

So who handles that on the Senate side? That's right, the "Governmental Affairs" side of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. And that means Lieberman -- the guy who must think 93% of DC pals around with terrorists.

It's true. According to the committee's web site, Senate Rule XXV(k)(1) gives them jurisdiction over the "municipal affairs of the District of Columbia, except appropriations therefor." Which is why this afternoon, Joe Lieberman's committee will be holding confirmation hearings for two DC judicial nominees. Right. Not the Judiciary Committee -- that's for federal judicial appointments. DC municipal court nominations are in the hands of... Joe Lieberman.

Actually, Sarah Palin must think that 93% of DC pals around with terrorists. Having lived there for five years, I'd have to agree.

But, I digress. Yesterday afternoon, Roll Call reported that a deal was brokered in which Senator Lieberman would lose only a subcommittee chairmanship. This drove Kos into a curse-laden tizzy:

Um, what idiot would think that taking away a subcommittee from Lieberman would be seen as a "stinging rebuke"? In whose DC-Beltway-addled mind is that even remotely punishment?

Let Lieberman keep that subcommittee. No one gives a shit about it. The only thing that matters, the only thing that Lieberman wants, and the only thing we don't want him to have -- is the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

If this is the "starting point", and given the Senate Democrats' history of capitulations, expect Lieberman to come out of that meeting as majority leader.

In fact, today Lieberman lost "only . . . his spot on the Environment and Public Works Committee", according to Roll Call. Apparently at President-Elect Obama's direction, Senate Democrats did take Margaret Hoover's "bad advice", Jed L. Kos responded, "There isn't a more tone-deaf group of people anywhere in this country than inside the U.S. Senate." I guess the Senate Democrats aren't giving that "seat at the table" to the Daily Kos after all. In a subsequent post, Kos added, "the Senate Democratic caucus are a bunch of spineless asses utterly unwilling and unable to deliver the change the American people requested."

The reality of the Lieberman situation is that Senate Democrats believe that they need him to caucus (and, more importantly, to vote) with them. As the Democrats' very own "maverick" (who used to be a "DINO" before he went "independent"), he could have been a great thorn in their side if they had spanked him too hard. In exchange for the leniency, Lieberman promised to be a good boy:

More importantly, though: the Daily Kos' coverage of the Lieberman debacle is a preview of the tantrums that the left wing of the Democratic Party will throw whenever soon-to-be inaugurated President Obama appears to be straying from their radical political path. All moderates and other traitors must be thrown under the bus! For Kos, this includes the left-wing leaders themselves: "I'm done with Reid as Senate leader."

This internal divisiveness, which is coming to light even before Obama has been inaugurated, points to potentially serious problems in the Democrats' ability to govern, "given the Senate Democrats' history of capitulations." If Kos wants to go on thinking that having Joe Lieberman in the Senate is equivalent to having President Bush in the White House, that's OK with me. Here's the kind of dialogue that this mindset creates:
Jane Hamsher: With all due respect Governor Dean, we were just told to go screw ourselves, that our concerns for Barack Obama and our concern about the war and everything else that we fought so hard for within the Democratic party is meaningless and that Joe being happy and giving in to his threats--and he did threaten Democrats in his press conference--is more important than we are. And so I don't think it was a matter of reconciliation. I think we were told to go Cheney ourselves.

[Howard] Dean: I haven't seen the blogs about this because this just happened but I'm sure the sentiment online is one of outrage. But I would line up with Barack. I don't think you were told to go screw yourselves at all. I think he has got to now practice what he preaches during two years of campaigns if he wants to bring America together and as objectionable as Joe's behavior was, and frankly unprincipled, I don't think that this is the thing that should divide us. And I don't think it's about his votes for FISA or anything else. I think it's about what kind of a tone do we want to send. Do we want a purge as the first thing we do? I don't think so.

Meanwhile, many Republicans are attempting to return the GOP to classic conservative ideas, values and policy goals. Let's hope the Democrats keep on fighting amongst themselves while the GOP rebuilds and retools (pace BarbinMD). This is the stuff of which the Republican resurgence in 2010 will be made.

In Response To: Dean on Obama, Lieberman, and Us


Fundy said...

Awesome post!

Mundy said...

This is the best post here in a long time. Good lay out of them melting down over Libermann. Just wait until Obama has to bomb somebody, code pink will revolt.

Fundy said...

Can you say .... Green Party?