MN-Sen: Lieberman defends Norm 'New Suit' Coleman
by Dracomicron, Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 09:24:02 AM EDT
In my diaries, I've been following the Minnesota Senate race between Democratic humorist and friend of the late Paul Wellstone, Al Franken, and incumbant Republican beneficiary of relaxed lobbying rules Norm Coleman, but recently things just got weird.
Joe Lieberman (Himself-CT), former Democrat and McCain supporter, wrote an op-ed for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in which he extolled the virtues of Norm Coleman's position on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI).
Let's have a look at what he said and try to figure out what he's really saying, shall we?
As a result of Coleman's leadership, PSI has exposed more than $80 billion in fraud, waste and abuse in government operations. He identified multiple vulnerabilities in the Medicare system, which recently led to sweeping changes in Medicare to prevent scam artists from ripping off taxpayer dollars.
Lieberman is a bit more generous than the humble Norm Coleman campaign, who only admits to $70 million in fraud, waste, and abuse., unless they scrounged up another $10 million in savings since September 22. Regardless, it remains the fact that Coleman spent more time investigating music piracy and sending the Spanish Inquisition to pick over the United Nations while entire pallets full of money both literally and figureatively disappeared in Iraq.
Furthermore, any suggestion Sen. Coleman stymied Democrats' investigations into Iraq-related matters is unfair and unfounded. Under the subcommittee's rules, the Republican and Democratic leaders have the right to initiate an inquiry at any time. Neither party leader did that. In short, the fact remains: at no time did Coleman hinder, reject or refuse an inquiry into Iraq-related matters.
In late 2003, my friend, former Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton, who also served on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, suggested that PSI investigate certain allegations of abuse by U.S. contractors in Iraq. Coleman responded to him that he shared his concern about the allegations and noted there were several different nonpartisan, independent auditors already examining these contracts.
You know, it's funny that Lieberman would go this route, that other agencies were looking into it, because that sure didn't stop Coleman from harassing the UN on the oil-for-food abuses when Paul Volcker was already investigating on behalf of the U.N. Let's ask the Minneapolis Star-Tribune what they think about this claim (emphasis mine):
At the end of 2003, Coleman's fellow Minnesota senator, Democrat Mark Dayton, sent Coleman a letter asking him to further investigate a New York Times report that Halliburton was overcharging the U.S. government for gasoline imported to Iraq. Coleman responded by saying he'd started a preliminary investigation but that other entities were already looking into the claim.
Dayton, who was also a member of PSI at the time, said that by the end of 2003 and early 2004, Democratic senators "ran into one stone wall after the other" in demanding oversight from their Republican colleagues.
In fact, Democrats eventually had to investigate via an internal party entity, the Democratic Policy Committee, which found billions of dollars in fraud and unfinished contractor work in Iraq, all relatively ignored not just by Coleman but all Republican oversight. Coleman could have been a true leader, but chose to be a shill for Bush & Cheney instead.
To assert that Norm Coleman did anything less than a first-rate job on PSI demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the subcommittee and ignores the substantial positive changes that his investigations have caused.
To assert that Joe Lieberman has any stake in the matter aside from the growing fear that the Democrats are on their way to a filibuster-proof majority and may not need to humor him or his committee assignments any longer demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Senator and ignores the substantial level of self-interest that his actions and intentions betray.