A guest post by Sam Adams
Why let Joe Lieberman stay a chairman? Because it’s not about Joe Lieberman. It’s not about Barack Obama. It’s about the nation and what's good for it.
Let’s start with a few basic propositions: First, Joe Lieberman supported John McCain against Barack Obama not to be churlish or disloyal to the Democratic Party but because he honestly believed his old friend would be the best president and the one this country needed. Second, though the majority of Democrats in Congress shifted (or were elected in over the past few years on a position) against a continued U.S. occupation of Iraq years ago, and this is now a difference that persists between them and Senator Lieberman, on most issues Lieberman continues to vote as a Democrat. Third, the election is over.
This last one is key. A Democratic move to eject Lieberman is based on the proposition that it won't hurt them ... and that it gives them pleasure. First, because if he honestly holds Democratic positions he would continue to hold them even if stripped of a leadership role. Second, Lieberman is no longer a real threat to Democratic leadership in Congress, even if allied to the Republicans. Third, because they feel he stepped over some invisible line; in not only supporting John McCain but it attacking Barack Obama, especially in a prime-time speech at the Republican convention. But to focus on this is short sited and erroneous.
But ejecting Lieberman WILL hurt them. There are many, many individuals that Lieberman represents better then any other person in Congress - foreign policy hawks with a liberal domestic viewpoint - and he remains their man. Many of them also supported McCain but the election is now over, McCain is off the field, and they want to return to their party and focus on the many points of overlap between them and the Democratic majority. Spitting on Lieberman is the same as driving them into the Republican camp. And for what?
A (very) brief discussion of the late King Hussein of Jordan is worth
having and not because he shares a middle name with our President-elect. When Hussein rose to the throne, Jordan was (as now) a weak and small country, fractured internally. The monarchy was weak and many expected Hussein's reign to be brief. But instead he reigned for 46 years. How? By fighting enemies that threatened him. And buying off opponents that could be bought.
If you look at the polling, for all the ability of Barack Obama to electrify so many voters and for all that he has come to represent for many, in the swing states his victory was more due to Republicans staying home then for any great shift in the numbers towards the Democrats. The victory should be cemented, not gloated over.
Gloating was the mistake of the Gingrich led Republican Revolution. It led to arrogance, corruption and blindness to alternative viewpoints. It set the basis for the collapse of the Republican Party we are witnessing now.
Lieberman can be bought. More importantly, the large component he represents ideologically... can also be bought. And the cost is actually quite cheap.
(And its worth noting that a senator, unlike a House representative, can thwart legislation in 1001 ways, acting on his own. Or, when he supports the legislation, hold it up until he gets more of what he wants. Maintaining Lieberman's vested interest in the party prevents him from being a further irritant.)
But I said this was for the good of the nation, when I started, didn't I. And I've only focused on what's good for the Democrats. But having Joe Lieberman there backing the Democratic agenda (except Iraq), reconciled with the Democratic leadership and with close relationships amongst the Republicans is in the interests of the nation. Having honest connections to all representatives benefits all, including the majority. At least if you believe the Democratic agenda is for the good of the country and look forward to years of Democratic control.