Lieberman's New Tea Party for Grown-ups Caucus
by Matt Stoller, Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 10:55:15 AM EST
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.