Saturday, November 15, 2008

'Keep Lieberman in the Caucus (For Now)'

This also from The Nation.

Lieberman's ridiculous appearance at last summer's Republican National Convention should have been sufficient punishment for the senator from Connecticut. After all, the man who was himself the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 had to try and find nice things to say about McCain's veep pick, the absurdly unqualified Sarah Palin.

But there are many Democrats who now propose to purge Lieberman from the party's Senate caucus -- a move that would strip him of committee assignments and the advantages that accrue to a senior senator serving with the protection of the majority party. The issue will come to a head in short order, as the new Senate majority determines whether to kick this particular senator out of the club.

Were I a senator, I'd oppose the purge.

It is not that I have any particular taste for Lieberman or his policies. I have interviewed the man a number of times and covered him in many settings and, frankly, he has always impressed me as a self-serving petty moralist who is a bit too bemused by himself . . . .

But it strikes me that purging members from caucuses never looks very good and never has the desired effect of achieving the ever-illusive goal of ideological purity. . . .

My sense is that Democrats would be wiser to keep Lieberman in the Democratic circle for so long as he sides with the caucus on cloture votes. After all, if Al Franken prevails in the Minnesota recount and Jim Martin wins the Georgia run-off -- both serious prospects -- a Democratic caucus that includes Lieberman will have 59 Senate seats. And if Alaska's Nick Begich comes from behind as that state counts the last of its ballots -- a more remote prospect -- a Democratic caucus that includes Lieberman will have the 60 seats needed to block a Republican filibuster. . . .

If Democrats did somehow get to 60 in the Senate, and if Lieberman then betrayed the party on a critical vote, that would be the point at which to debate expelling him from the caucus.

At this point, the discussion sounds more like venting than smart, or serious, politics.

So there, Rachel Maddow!! (And this is ridiculous.)

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