Thursday, August 28, 2008

Time for Joe to go

Okay Senator Reid, enough is enough. As much as it pains me to say it, it's time for you to strip Senator Joe Lieberman of his seniority and his chairmanship.

First and foremost, let's clear up a misconception. If Lieberman caucuses with the Republicans in the Senate, won't the senate be split 50-50 the way it was in 2001, with Vice President Cheney give the Republicans control? No.

Each two-year congress passes an organizing resolution at the start of its term. Most organizing resolutions (including the one passed in 2007) contain no mechanism for the senate to switch control, even if the majority party actually becomes the minority party. This actually happened in the 83rd congress in 1953-1954. Though the Democrats at times had a majority, LBJ remained minority leader. (Read more about it here.)

The only way that the senate leadership and committee chairmanships can actually change control is if such a mechanism is actually written into the organizing resolution, as it was in 2001, which was subsequently used when then VT. Sen Jim Jeffords switched parties. For the same to happen this year, the new Republican majority would have to pass a new organizing resolution, which of course could be filibustered by the 50 Democratic senators. This may have PR consequences, but it likely will be only for the final few months of this congress' term.

Now - why have I finally given up on Lieberman? I actually like him - I like who he is - I like the fact that there's an observant Jew in congress - I like his positions on most issues. I remember the moment in 2000 when Al Gore picked him - I was never prouder to be an American Jew. Furthermore, I lived in Connecticut for 4 years after that, and thought that Lieberman was all in all an excellent advocate for the state.

Furthermore, in 2006, I had a relatively strong aversion to Ned Lamont. Primarily, I think Lamont's opposition to the war in Iraq came far too late. Unlike Senators Jack Reed and Russ Feingold, or then State Sen. Barack Obama, Lamont waited until it was politically easy to oppose the war. I have a hard time giving him much credit with that. So, had I voted in CT that year, I would have voted for Lieberman in the primary, and likely still voted for him in the general election.

However, now is different. Refusing to endorse a presidential candidate is one thing (a la Sen. Chuck Hagel). Endorsing a candidate from the other party whom you agree with is one thing (a la former Sen. Linc Chaffee). But attacking your own party's candidate is another (a la former Sen. Zell Miller). We'll see what Lieberman's speech is like next week. But if he specifically attacks Senator Obama as unfit to lead this country, Reid should boot him out.

Joementum can carry him somewhere he's wanted.

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