A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

The Hartford Courant has the details:

Senate Democrats will decide by secret ballot Tuesday whether to take away Sen. Joe Lieberman's chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee -- a post from which he oversees U.S. security issues, as well as the operations of a wide segment of the federal government.

This cuts in one of two directions. On one hand, the secrecy of the ballot could serve to benefit Joe Lieberman. While there is a great deal of discontent -- and rightly so -- with Lieberman's conduct (not only campaigning on behalf of John McCain and in opposition to Barack Obama, but also campaigning on behalf of Senate Republicans in competitive or potentially competitive races against Democratic challengers), if the Democratic base can't figure out which Democratic Senators are voting to support Lieberman, accountability will be difficult to achieve. The Netroots can try to limit this by pushing individual Senators to come clean about how they intend to vote, or after the fact how they voted, though this would be an arduous process, and success wouldn't be assured.

Yet alternatively, and I believe more likely, the secrecy of the ballot hurts Lieberman. The Senate is a collegial place, largely because any one Senator can go to great lengths to hold up virtually any piece of legislation and thus no Senator wants to get on the bad side of another Senator for want of not having their own bills obstructed. It is likely a result of this fundamental aspect of the chamber that just a small handful of Democratic Senators have gone on the record in opposing Lieberman's bid to maintain control over the Senate's oversight panel. But as the vote on his chairmanship will be secret, and thus Lieberman will not know for certain who voted against him, Lieberman's ability to retaliate against individual Senators will be greatly curtailed.

In either case, we shall know very soon whether or not Lieberman will be able to hold on to his chairmanship or, if alternatively, he is given a consolation prize instead.

Tags: 111th Congress, Joe Lieberman, Senate Democrats (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

If Joe Lieberman had any sense of personal integrity and honor he would voluntarily accept the chairmanship of another committee, realizing that he stepped way over the line with his disloyalty.  But he doesn't, so he won't.

by Will Graham 2008-11-17 02:42AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

Should not this vote wait until we have a clear picture of who will be in the Democratic caucus come January?  Begich, Franken, and Martin may yet win.  Should they not have a say if they do win?

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-17 02:59AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

Agreed

by TheUnknown285 2008-11-17 05:28AM | 0 recs
Sad

In both of your well-thought out scenarios, the one common characteristic of the Democratic senators is their COWARDICE.

They are cowards to hide behind a secret ballot, afraid of retaliation from the progressive grassroots who are campaigning against Lieberman, and afraid of retaliation from Lieberman himself, lest he become more of a monster that we know he is.

by Sieglinde 2008-11-17 03:22AM | 0 recs
It's no secret what they think of him...

Holy Joe is likely to get his comeuppance here... at least one would hope so. This is one of the lowest forms of life in the Senate and he deserves to lose his Chairmanships at the very least.

Under The LobsterScope

by btchakir 2008-11-17 03:29AM | 0 recs
the secret ballot helps Joe

They can refuse to hold him accountable while simultaneously not letting their own constituents hold them accountable.

It is beyond ridiculous that this is even a matter for debate in the Democratic caucus. No Republican would let someone keep a committee chair after actively supporting the other party's presidential nominee.

by desmoinesdem 2008-11-17 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: the secret ballot helps Joe

Let us not repeat this point too much because people in the mainstream media are making this out to be some revenge scenario. It is a revenge scenario in a way, but for so many good reasons of which the McCain endorsement was just merely one.

The guy was an unwilling chairperson and he has people like Evan Bayh in his corner. And Evan Bayh just showed in his interview with Maddow that he is a clueless dolt when he says they can easily remove him at anytime. If he isn't a clueless dolt, then he was a flat out liar because he would then be saying things just to shut us up for the time being.

by Pravin 2008-11-17 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: the secret ballot helps Joe

I agree.  It's one part revenge, but also one part self-protection.  Protection from having a hostile committee chairman fucking up Obama's agenda and from having a mole within the caucus who's always there to give "bi-partisan" cover to Republican talking points and policies.

by TheUnknown285 2008-11-17 05:35AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

We already know who to hold accountable based on past practices and current silence.

If Lieberman wins, you can bet so called progressive stalwarts like Barbara Boxer were in the tank for Lieberman. This woman had no problem acting all outraged at the Bushies for the Iraq War and other War on Terror abuses and Katrina, yet what has she done to attack Lieberman who is on the same side of Bush on the War oni Terror strategy and has given Bush a free pass on Katrina? Has Boxer really made a difference on these issues? ANy good she has done in bringing her outrage on those issue can be construed as mere partisan attacks.

Boxer is just a freaking California Democrat. Better than the Dianne Feinstein but still unwilling to do the hard and dirty work to make a freaking difference to the nation. With her constituency, it is no big courageous task to go after Bush. What I want to see from Boxer is courage now to go after someone who is interfering with the DEmocratic agenda on some crucial issues.

If Lieberman wins, donate to Leahy, Sander, Dagron.

Do not donate to Dodd, Bayh and anyone Lanny Davis is in the tank for.

Use your judgement on the silent senators.

by Pravin 2008-11-17 05:15AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

The Lieberpunk must go.  

He can go ahead and vote whatever way he pleases, but should have no place at a Democratic table, especially a place of honor near the head of the table.

If he chooses to throw in with McConnell and the Minority party of racists and corrupt corporatist scum until he loses his seat in 2012, let him go.

And please let the door hit him on the way out.

AND if he comes crawling on his hands and knees begging for a little influence and relevance, maybe we'll think about it.  It will depend on his actions from now on.

by dembluestates 2008-11-17 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

I personally like the "transparency in government" thingy. Do we not all pay these guys a decent wage and give them killer medical benefits? Why would these boys be afraid to tell their constituents what they think? Are they deceitful? or just politicians?

by wjbill 2008-11-17 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

Might as well reply here, the same reply could be to several other posts as well:  the Senate is not just a "job."  It's an extremely small, intimate village where today's ally is tomorrow's adversary and vice-versa.  The person you're pissed at today you will vitally need tomorrow.   In this environment, you choose carefully which bridges you want to burn.

I agree with Jonathan that the secret ballot cuts both ways.  In fact, I noted that in a diary just yesterday.  I'm just not as sure as Jonathan that this hurts Lieberman more than it helps him; from where I sit, it's a virtual certainty that there will be some Senators in each camp, voting to strip Lieberman's chairmanship and voting to let him retain it, under cover of secret ballot.

by InigoMontoya 2008-11-17 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

I think the silent ballot will help the junior senators who may feel obligated to vote the same way as the senior senators who are the cowardly faction of the party. This whole seniority thing in the senate is outdated. We got pressing issues and mediocre Democrats can get precedence over a hotshot young Democrat just because the old fart served more years in the Senate?

by Pravin 2008-11-17 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

I mean, the silent ballot may help the younger senators who do not like Lieberman vote their conscience. They won't have the pressure from the Dodds of the party to help out their "buddy".

by Pravin 2008-11-17 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: A Secret Ballot Awaits Lieberman

I'm starting to think that the caucus will strip Lieberman of his chairmanship.  Offering him a different chairmanship where he won't get in the way is an acceptable solution to me.

Remember the Peter Principle?  In the corporate world when an executive or manager has seniority but is not able to do the job (promoted to his Level of Incompetency), the company moves that person to another job with a fancy title that has no important function...a Lateral Arabesque.

by GFORD 2008-11-17 05:39AM | 0 recs
Here's how I would play it

Ask Joe Lieberman if he wants to caucus with the Democrats.

If he gives a conditional answer then there's nothing to debate.

If Lieberman says he will caucus with the Democrats if he gets the plum chairmanship then it's pretty clear he doesn't want to be a Democrat.

If Lieberman says he's wants to caucus with the Democrats unconditionally then he has to make this statement publicly. If he's a loyal Democrat he will be eligible to have his seniority restored after the 2010 elections.

by Carl Nyberg 2008-11-17 05:41AM | 0 recs

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