Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Lieberman Kept His Chairmanship

By now, you've probably heard that the Senate Democrats are going to allow Joe Lieberman to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. Here's Marc Ambinder's take on why events unfolded the way they did:
...were Senate Democrats in a retributive mood, it's easy to imagine how these sins would become venal and prohibitively grave, and bye-bye- Joe. Kicking Lieberman out of his job would have made Democrats feel good about being Democrats. It would encourage party loyalty, and what political scientists call the solidary benefits of political party membership. It would discourage those who bucked the party line.

But Senate Democrats are in a governing mood. Winning by seven points nationally and having large majorities in both chambers can do that to a party. It's going to be easier, relative to punishing Lieberman (and therefore pushing him to the Republican Party), to send progressive legislation to the President. They'll need him on filibuster breaking votes. His impact on foreign policy will be minimal. Some Senators have taken to the microphones to brag about the spirit of reconciliation that pervades the party. Maybe. But the Democrats today have sent the message that they favor convenience over party; expediency over parochialism. Make no mistake: keeping Lieberman where he was the expedient decision here.

In my judgement, they made the right call. Pick your battles. A bloody fight over Lieberman isn't worth it. Save it for Social Security, or climate change, or something that is going to affect most Americans' lives.

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