Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

I've been confused since the election about Lieberman.  Why isn't he making a bigger deal out of his victory and his supposed power to control the Senate?  Is it because the idea that he has some power to swing the balance of power is nonsense?  Did his power originate from his status as a Democrat who bashes Democrats, with his loss in the primary conferring what amounts to a neutering?  I'm not sure, but Josh Marshall has a blog post about some really weird intra-centrist politics in the Senate.  Via Roll Call we learn that all is not well in centrist grown-up land.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) has relinquished his position as co-chairman of the Senate Centrist Coalition, halting talks with co-chairwoman Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) over the future of the organization in favor of creating his own bipartisan group with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

Snowe, meanwhile, has begun working with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to refashion the Centrist Coalition into a group that includes more than just ideological centrists and which they hope will appeal to Senators from all over the political spectrum.

As recently as early December, Snowe and Lieberman had said that they and their staffs were in talks over how to refashion the Centrist Coalition into a broader alliance of Republicans and Democrats who would work to end the vitriolic partisanship that has characterized Capitol Hill the past few years.

More recently, Lieberman suggested to Snowe that she work instead with Landrieu, Snowe spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier confirmed.

Josh quotes more of the article on the new group.

While still in the preliminary stages of development, the goal for Lieberman and Alexander is to create a group of Republicans and Democrats that primarily get together to socialize.

Oh, so it's a tea party, apparently.  I've always suspected that Lieberman's politics were more about aesthetics than reality, based more on a general hatred of Democrats who are honest and liberal than anything else.  He has a history of putting together extremely smart people who are proficient at a kind of incrementalist technocratic elitism.  Lieberman works from within, and considers that the 'nobility of compromise'.  He genuinely sees in bipartisanship and compromise a moral goodness, no matter what the outcome.  And so as the Senate drifted to the right, he drifted with it, and continued his exceptionally bright and arrogant technical proficiency and admiration of the social scene of DC elites.  Of course, the new liberalism is neither elitist in social structure nor particularly respectful of existing institutions, which is why he hates it so much.  

Given that Bush has crushed the comfy bipartisan Beltway atmosphere for Republicans, it's becoming more difficult for someone like Lieberman to get along with people like Olympia Snowe on policy and political grounds.  It makes sense that he sets up his own little circle of friends that aren't going to be so mean as to consider that the country has gone in the wrong direction.  Since the Democratic caucus is generally unified that we are off the rails, and the Republicans are split on the matter, Lieberman is way out on his own, for real.

And that's my best guess as to why he's been silent for so long.  He just doesn't look particularly relevant anymore.  

Tags: Connecticut, CT-Sen, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party

If there is one thing I regret about this election, the one blemish on our otherwise amazing year, it's that motherf*cker Lieberman.  I can't even look at a picture of him without getting pissed off.  That holier-than-thou way of nasal speak he has.  ARGH!   I need to stop.

I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if Lamont hadn't have won the primary.  After that amazing moment, I really, really thought Lamont was going to win and that Liebeman was over.  Now he gets to be a thorn in our side for the next six years.  Lamont was such a great individual that it actually hurt when he lost.  I got so attached to the guy.  Does anyone know if he has any plans for running for any office again?  I'm sure that being abandoned by the Democratic establishment AFTER winning the primary can't have left him wanting to run again.  

by IsThisOverYet 2006-12-20 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party

Sorry for the rant by the way, but reading all this stuff today about him and the "hacking" has just pissed me off all over again!

by IsThisOverYet 2006-12-20 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party

I haven't heard anything about Lamont's future plans.  But if you think it's frustrating revisiting the Lieberman nonsense, imagine how it feels to be a Democrat in CT.  

I don't think Lieberman (I-CT) has been particularly lowkey about anything--he's certainly out there hawking the war with McCain.  And maybe he genuinely believes he's going to be part of McCain's ticket, and that's why he's burnishing his "bipartisan" bona fides with the likes of Lamar Alexander.

by CTvoter 2006-12-20 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party

I feel the same way - I've tried to block it out since the election because it was genuinely painful.

Received an email from Ned today for a get together with the campaign workers next month so it will be nice to see some people again.

by Karatist Preacher 2006-12-20 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party

Interesting.  Does he have plans for running for any other office?

by CTvoter 2006-12-20 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

Apparently Olympia Snowe isn't moderate enough for Joe.  He has to go to Alexander, a true-blue conservative, in order to make his "moderate" schtick work any more.

by Nonpartisan 2006-12-20 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

The reason why Lieberman isn't going to be particularly relevant is that the Republicans are very unlikely to hew 100% to the party line any more.

The policies coming down from the White House are tremendously unpopular, and Republicans no longer have the solace of knowing "as long as we stick together 100%, we get to set the agenda."

It's going to be a lot easier to pick off R's this time around, and Lieberman only holds the cards if it's a straight party-line vote.  Or if he changes parties, of course, but there's no indication anyone views that as a serious possibility, which it isn't.

Of course, you can always count on Joe to bloviate as if his opinion is the most relevant one, but I'm not sure that's a unique quality in the Senate.

by Steve M 2006-12-20 11:41AM | 0 recs
Bush will draft Lieberman for a cabinet post

or so the progressive comment threads theorized pre-Nov. 7.

Those were impassioned prayers disguised as a hunches. He is insufferable, and thanks to Matt for describing his political narcissism so nimbly.

As a Connecticut resident married into a liberal Jewish family, I have a) the misery of this guy representing my and b) the solace of hearing people of all faiths, including Joe's own, bury him in scorn at the first opportunity.

by ShagBark 2006-12-20 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

I think it's partly the national climate shutting him up. Although he can claim the election was a rejection of partisanship, relying on the MSM line that 2006 was a victory for 'conservative Democrats', that gets shot down when you consider that no Democrats lost their seats and we won the popular vote by a large margin, so portraying it as anything but a rejection of the Republicans is more or less impossible.

Plus, although the new Democrats come from across the party's ideological spectrum, most of them are tied together by a willingness to play hardball, and  that applies even more so for groups like the blogosphere.

Lieberman could try to make the case that bipartisanship is the answer, but he would have lost the Senate race without incumbency, so he can hardly win the debate in all 50 states. He's not going to provoke a confrontation unless he feels he can win it.

by Englishlefty 2006-12-20 01:46PM | 0 recs
Nice post, Matt, but...

 ..."incrementalist technocratic elitism"???

 I'm sorry, I couldn't let fruit THAT low-hanging go unpicked...  :)

by Master Jack 2006-12-20 02:10PM | 0 recs
You're Right!

It should have been "technocratic incrementalist elitism."

How could Matt have been so foolish?

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-20 02:33PM | 0 recs
I can see the attack ads now


  (low, serious baritone voice)

  "Can we trust Susan Collins?

  She says she's a moderate.

  She says she's for Maine.

  But she really is an incremental technocratic elitist... (flashing big red text graphic on the screen).

  Can Maine afford that?"

by Master Jack 2006-12-20 02:46PM | 0 recs
No, No, No, No!

It's got to be snarled, like invective:

    You incremental technocratic elitist!

Of course, you can add all the pre-fab culture war do-dads your heart desires:

    You latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, Nascar-bashing, incremental technocratic elitist!

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-20 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: You're Right!

I hang my head in shame.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-21 04:49AM | 0 recs
Reality Bites

My best guess: With vulnerable GOP Senators already bailing on Iraq, Lieberman suddenly discovers that all the punditocracy ass-kissing in the world doesn't mean jack in cloakroom anymore.

Who knew that "devil take the hindmost" could be so, so cruel.

It was supposed to keep the great unwashed in line.  It wasn't supposed to wreck havoc with the pecking order of the most exclusive club in the world.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-20 02:38PM | 0 recs
That's some kind of sex!

Apparently members of the "Bipartisan Members Group" ... "would not necessarily come into the group to come to agreement on issues."

So now we've got 'bipartisanship' without 'agreements on issues'???

Joe Lieberman is now officially as weird as Space Ghost:

Moltar: You're insane! You never even took your clothes off!

Space Ghost: Of course I didn't! It was sex!

Moltar: That's some kind of sex!

by CranesAreFlying 2006-12-20 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

"He just doesn't look particularly relevant anymore."

Really?
I thought his 2004 presidential campaign had already proven that and then cemented by facing a primary challenge as a 3-term incumbent.

by v2aggie2 2006-12-20 05:29PM | 0 recs
Grey Poupon

Oh, so it's a tea party, apparently.  I've always suspected that Lieberman's politics were more about aesthetics than reality, based more on a general hatred of Democrats who are honest and liberal than anything else.  He has a history of putting together extremely smart people who are proficient at a kind of incrementalist technocratic elitism.  Lieberman works from within, and considers that the 'nobility of compromise'.  He genuinely sees in bipartisanship and compromise a moral goodness, no matter what the outcome.  And so as the Senate drifted to the right, he drifted with it, and continued his exceptionally bright and arrogant technical proficiency and admiration of the social scene of DC elites.

Shorter Lieberman: Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?

--Matt Browner Hamlin

by PhiloTBG 2006-12-20 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

I was really, really disppointed that Obama refused to campaign for Ned, especially after endorsing Lieberman in the primary.  Tough autumn in CT.

by justinh 2006-12-21 05:10AM | 0 recs
Re: and how....

Tough autumn, and tough election results.  Thanks to all you Republican and "Independent" voters, and thanks to all you elected Democrats who chose to give the Democratic voters of CT a big "screw you"...On the other hand, would we be having so much discussion about Iraq if Joe had won the primary?  No.  So some good did come out of this.

by CTvoter 2006-12-21 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus

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by manuelz 2007-03-09 12:31AM | 0 recs

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