One drawback of the Democrats' having won two election cycles fairly convincingly is that it gets harder and harder to accuse our dear leaders of being pathetic and hopeless. But letting Joe Lieberman remain the chairman of an important committee in the 111th Congress... that really smarts.
I don't think it's purely the absence of sweet, sweet retribution that has me so disappointed, either, although it could be 70% of it. It's that I can't believe it isn't a net negative to let your party's nominee and your party get so thoroughly slimed by somebody, and then pass up the opportunity to inflict as much damage as possible on that person's political career. More than that, actually. They're letting him retain authority that a) he hasn't made any use of so far, and b) could so easily be transferred to an actual Democrat.
If Reid et al could make a convincing case for the move on political/agenda-enacting grounds, I'd love to hear it. But they aren't going to be able to make that case in public (it has to be about not seeking "retribution" and "looking forward") and I don't even know what it would be in private. Nobody that follows senate committee assignments is going to switch parties over one. The people who don't follow committee assignments probably wouldn't be shocked to hear that a guy got demoted by the party that he said was essentially traitorous. And what's he going to do? Vote against Obama's domestic agenda out of spite? Everybody would know was his rationale, if he did it, and it would probably be the definitive end of him in 2012 (hopefully he'll be out anyway).
I just don't think you have to assign a huge amount of weight to the ultimately ephemeral notion of self-respect to think the need for its preservation outweighs the political downside of treating Joe Lieberman like the Republican mole he is. In fact, you'd think there'd be some downside in legitimizing the Republican mole by publicly declaring him a Democrat in good standing... when he's literally no longer a Democrat.
Again, they probably know what they're doing. But it's just staggering.
I'm going to have to stop reading the MSM accounts of this. Time's Jay Newton-Small:
In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, [Obama] may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal — and now he owes Obama a big one.
Would that be bigger than the "big one" Lieberman owed Obama for endorsing him in his competitive 2006 race against the duly nominated Democrat? Because that little chip was already cashed in, in exchange for Lieberman's endorsing John McCain, and asking Americans to consider just why Obama was favored by Hamas. Joe Lieberman is nothing if not loyal!
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