Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Not Just Lieberman

Yes, Joe Lieberman may very well be one of the worst human beings on the planet. Even in a US Senate filled with narcissistic corporate whores who only care about the spotlight and enriching the industries that paid for their reelection, Lieberman his has risen to his own special level of asshattery.

But here's the thing: he's not president, he's not speaker of the house and he's not the majority leader. He's only as powerful as the Democratic leadership lets him be. Chris Bowers:
Nothing Lieberman is doing would be possible without the ongoing support of the majority of the Democratic caucus. If Democratic Senators wanted to punish Lieberman for his consistent transgressions against the party, they could. If Democrats wanted to use reconciliation, and just circumvent him altogether, they could do that to. But they are not going to do either.

As such, Lieberman is simply taking the power that is being handed to him by the rest of the caucus. Since he knows that Senate Democrats won't ever punish him, and won't ever circumvent him, he now has free reign to dictate whatever legislation he wants, get tons of face time with the White House and Senate leadership, regularly be the top story on news outlets around the country, receive millions in campaign contributions, and appease his Republican base (at this point, most of Lieberman's supporters are Republicans). It is a great deal for Lieberman, and it would not be possible without the ongoing consent of the majority of the Democratic Senate caucus.

Since we have already defeated Lieberman in a Democratic primary, there is nothing more severe we can do as progressive activists to directly threaten Lieberman. What we need to start doing is taking action against the Democrats who enable Lieberman and his ilk. If other Senate Democrats are not going to do anything about Lieberman taking control of the entire caucus, then really, what is the difference between those other Senators and Joe Lieberman?
Never thought I would echo George W. Bush, but we have reached the point where it is time to stop differentiating between problematic Senators like Joseph Lieberman and the other Senate Democrats who enable them.
Lieberman is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He (like many of us) knows that the majority of the Democrats in the senate a bunch of pussies when it comes to actually fighting for anything that matters. He knows that Harry Reid won't use the leverage he has to strip him of his chairmanship, or that Obama won't threaten him in the slightest. You'd think these people would be tired of getting repeatedly screwed over by this man, but apparently not.

When Lieberman was in the race for his political life in Connecticut against non-antichrist candidate Ned Lamont, Obama used his star power and popularity to endorse him in the primary. Lieberman repaid this favor by endorsing and campaigning for his opponent in the presidential election, which included standing on stage when vile, hateful slurs were used to attack him.

Other than this brief lapse with sanity, Obama returned to his usual bipartians/pragmatic/generic-David-Broder-cliche self upon winning the election, telling senate Democrats not to expel Lieberman from the caucus and to let him retain his chairmanship. And then we have yesterday, where Lieberman repaid him by obstructing Obama's main domestic initiative, vowing to join a filibuster to oppose it.

While most sane people see this finally crossing the uncrossable line, the White House seems to have decided to bend over and wait for his demands:
The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.

But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill, and first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.

"There is a weariness and a lot of frustration that one person is holding up the will of 59 others," the official said. “There is still too much anger and confusion at one particular senator’s reversal.”
To call that a failure of leadership isn't strong enough. He may be a powerful Senator, but no one has done more to keep him in this position then Harry Reid and Barack Obama. They may not be scum of the earth like Lieberman is, but this situation is just as much their fault as it is his.

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