Thursday, November 13, 2008

What to do about Joe Lieberman? (update 2)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, it now seems that both Obama and Durbin want Lieberman to remain as chair of the Homeland Security Committee, at least according to Newsweek's Howard Fineman.

It has been reported that Obama wants Lieberman to remain in the Democratic caucus, but it hasn't been clear whether or not he wants him to keep his chairmanship. It has also been reported that Durbin wanted him to be stripped of his chairmanship.

Meanwhile, the Politico is reporting that some Democratic senators -- including Dodd, Salazar, Carper, and Nelson -- "have launched a behind-the-scenes effort to save... Lieberman's chairmanship."

As I have written before, I trust Obama's judgement and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I have a great deal of respect for Durbin and Dodd.

The thing it, while Obama and Lieberman's backers may not hold grudges, many of us do. And rightly so. He's proven time and again over the past several years that he isn't much of a Democrat, if one at all. And after all he did to attack Obama and the Democrats during the recent campaign, why should he be forgiven and allowed to remain as if nothing happened?

And I'm not so sure it's such a great idea to let him keep such an important chairmanship. For more on this, see Jane Hamsher: "Allowing Lieberman to retain control of a committee where he has done nothing but suppress meaningful oversight is going to be an awfully bitter pill to swallow when we're told that the price of 'change' we all thought we were voting for is going to be too high."

The Senate Democrats are "making a mistake they're likely to regret," argues Steve Benen, and I tend to agree.

I must stress, again, that I have been sympathetic to Lieberman in the past and have argued that the Democratic Party should be inclusive enough even for Lieberman to have a place in it. But that was then, this is post-election 2008. The party should still be inclusive, and perhaps Lieberman should be allowed to remain in caucus, at least for the time being, and perhaps even forgiven, with a massive generosity of spirit, but that is all.

A chairmanship, particularly such a key one? Absolutely not.

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