Lieberman's Campaign Chair: There Must Be Consequences

A stunning rebuke of Joe Lieberman from the man who chaired his 2004 Presidential campaign:

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a close ally of Sen. Joe Lieberman, said the Connecticut Independent should pay a price for his campaign attacks against President-elect Barack Obama.

"There need to be consequences, and they cannot be insignificant," Carper said in a Monday interview with The Hill.

Carper, a fellow centrist who was Delaware campaign chairman for Lieberman's  failed bid for president in 2004, said he and many other Senate Democrats are disappointed and even angered by their colleague's sometimes-inflammatory rhetoric during this year's presidential campaign.


Carper did not rule out stripping Lieberman of his coveted gavel running the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, or imposing other sanctions like taking away seniority on other committees or a subcommittee on Armed Services.


"I'm very disappointed as a friend and a colleague," Carper said.

Carper is exactly the type of Senator I expected to at least silently vote for Lieberman maintaining his chairmanship tomorrow, if not additionally speak out on Lieberman's behalf. After all, Carper, like Lieberman, has been closely associated with the Democratic Leadership Council and, as noted above, Carper served as Lieberman's campaign chairman just four years ago. Moreover, Carper even backed Lieberman after the he had lost his Democratic primary and had decided to run as an Independent back in August 2006.

If the Carpers of the Senate aren't in Lieberman's camp, how is he expecting to get a majority of the caucus on his side to keep his chairmanship?

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House Republicans Prepare to Offer More of the Same

Eric Cantor, who is soon to be the number two Republican in the House of Representatives, has some tough words for his party.

Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, poised to ascend to House Republicans' No. 2 leader this week, said the Republican Party in Washington is no longer "relevant" to voters and must stop simply espousing principles. Instead, it must craft real solutions to health care and the economy.

The problem is, for all of the talk from Cantor, in reality all he and the House Republicans are offering is more of the same.

Mr. Cantor said Republicans should "be very wise about the battles we fight," but that they should fight every time there's a principle involved. For example, he disagrees with pundits who say Republicans should forgo issues such as immigration.

"It's not a dead issue. It's about how do we go about finally enforcing the law, and that's both in the interior as well as at the border," he said, adding that Democrats are likely to overreach if they go for a bill that offers citizenship to illegal immigrants, which he said is "amnesty."

Fine by me. If House Republicans want to hew to the type of knee-jerk conservatism that has lost them close to 60 seats during the last two election cycles, then they very well may find out that 60 isn't the limit on the number of seats they can lose. And specifically on the issue of immigration, if the Republicans want to write off Hispanic voters for a generation -- in effect doing to the entire Southwest (and in fact also large swaths of the rest of the country, too, including states like Virginia, Florida and Iowa) what they did to California, changing what was once a swing state into a deep blue one -- I say go ahead; a Democratic House majority with 270 or 280 or 290 members wouldn't be a terrible thing for the country.

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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.

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Dems & Lieberman: Enabling your abuser

This may may strike a raw nerve for some people, and I really apologize for that, but I have to say it.  In 2004 and 05, I was a lobbyist on domestic violence for a non-profit women's group.  If you're in that community, you know that there are certain traits and histories that are common among victims of domestic violence.  For example, having been abused as a child, and thus not really knowing what was right, or what you deserved, or when or how to stand up for yourself.  Abuse someone for their first 18 years, and they think that's what their life is supposed to be like.  They often have their self-importance and self-concept literally beaten out of them.  People often, idiotically, ask why the woman doesn't leave her batterer.  (The question they should ask is why men commit violence against those they love to begin with)  The answer to that question is complicated and multifaceted, but I think part of it is that the victims A) don't know any better, and B) enable it, knowingly or unknowingly (which is hardly to put them at fault).

Soon after the 2004 election, a piece circulated in the DV community that really seemed to be on the money.  It argued basically that Democrats acted like DV victims.  The Republicans hit them, but they didn't really do anything about it, so Republicans were emboldened to hit them again--with more frequency and intensity (I'm reminded of Al Franken's deconstruction in The Truth With Jokes of the 2004 campaign).  What we tend to think of as being nice or fair or decent sometimes resembled enabling the Republicans to defeat us.  Thus, until we collectively got some therapy and strength/confidence/support/certainty, the GOP would keep beating us.  If you act like a doormat, you will get walked on.

Four years later, things look very different.  I don't think Democrats look much like that anymore.  Except for Lieberman apologists.  On a practical level, even if you don't believe in punishing Lieberman for the MANY ridiculous things he's done, the reality is that as long as he gets away without paying a price for them, he will keep doing it!  Lieberman is like a bully who keeps attacking everyone else in his party, many of his "friends", and every time he sees that he can commit a transgression against us without repercussion, he is only emboldened to commit more and bigger ones!  Appeasement, like Jean Carnahan and Max Cleland voting for the war only to lose their seats anyway, does not work.  So far Holy Joe has merely had to run for reelection as a sort of independent.  He won a fourth term in 2006, he was credited with all of his Senate seniority as a Democrat, and he was allowed to chair a committee even after announcing that he'd just ignore Katrina and "let bygones be bygones"--damn those killed or sick from formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailers.  Lieberman is a bigger asshole every year, but he has yet to pay any price for it at all.  Indeed, any backlash he does face (a credible primary opponent) just feeds his martyr complex and drive for attention.  The media play jujitsu and portray Lieberman as the victim and those horrible left-wing bloggers as bullies (because it's fine for Pat Toomey to challenge Arlen Specter, but not for Ned Lamont to beat Lieberman).

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An Even Weaker House Republican Leader?

John Boehner has been more or less an abject failure as House Republican Leader, overseeing the loss of between 50 and 60 seats over the last two cycles and generally being ineffective in marshaling his caucus to do much of anything productive or positive for the American people. But might the House GOP move to pick an even weaker leader? Here's Patrick O'Connor:

GOP Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.) may challenge House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) for the top spot in the Republican Conference, GOP insiders said.

Lungren's office would not comment on Thursday other than to say that he will have an announcement today.

Lungren would be a long shot to defeat Boehner, or win any other leadership post. Lungren served in Congress for a decade starting in 1978 before leaving Capitol Hill to become California attorney general. After eight years in that post, he unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1998. Lungren was then re-elected to the House in 2004.

What do we know about Dan Lungren? O'Connor mentions that Lungren "unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1998." That's an understatement. That fall Lungren pulled in just 38.38 percent of the vote against as the Republican nominee in an open seat election against the not exactly charismatic Democrat Gray Davis. To put that in perspective, that's the worst showing of any major party gubernatorial candidate running in a general election in the state in the last 20 years. To put it in even more perspective, it's the worst showing of a major party gubernatorial candidate running in an open seat general election in the state since Upton Sinclain garnered 37.75 percent of the vote in the 1934 election -- but even then Sinclair could blame at least part of his poor showing on the presence of a Progressive candidate pulling in about 13 percent of the vote.

Lungren's record of weakness doesn't stop there. Just this month, Lungren nearly pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory -- an move usually reserved for Democrats -- when he only narrowly won reelection against a relatively unknown challenger in a district that had tended to lean about 7 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections.

So if that's the direction House Republicans want to go -- someone defined by their own electoral weakness rather than by having shepherded his caucus to defeat in two straight elections --  fine by me.

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