Lieberman Retains Chairmanship By 42-13 Margin

by: Matt Stoller

Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 12:49

And there we go.  Lieberman loses his subcommittee chairmanship on climate change on the Environment and Public Works Committee.  That subcommittee chairmanship was going to become mostly irrelevant anyway as climate policy moved to committees with real jurisdiction.  So basically 42 Democratic Senators voted for Joe Lieberman, and Lieberman is saying that he kept his slot because of Obama.

I sort of get tired of making this point, but Democratic leaders are often not on our side, they often don't agree with us, and it's foolish to consider them as teammates.  They aren't.

... Via Jane, Cilizza puts it out.

Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: "The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question."

I don't think that's quite right, as a lot of this is simply persuasion and not brute force.  Democratic Senators have not been persuaded to change the way they think about politics, even people like Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer, who constantly act like wankers while voting reasonably well.  But yes, there is an element of telling us to fuck off, and you should get the message.  And that message is from everyone who made this possible.

Matt Stoller :: Lieberman Retains Chairmanship By 42-13 Margin

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What do we do now? (0.00 / 0)
First, this was going to be a hard vote to win.  The Senate protects its own.  Period.  Realize this.

Second, Obama apparently thinks it's easier to deal with Lieberman in his post until he crosses the line more so than before he does so.  That's his call.  (I don't agree with it, but it is his call.)  He apparently is more concerned that Lieberman would be a pain on the talk shows in December than a pain in January when Obama pushes for legislation to move the troops out of Iraq over the next 18 months of so.

Lieberman will cross the line at some point.  Of this there is no doubt.

The best we can do, presently, is gather information and make it visible.  Focus on visibility (getting it out to the MSM and within the blogosphere) when Lieberman crosses the line, and make it clear that he has done so in a way that's unacceptable.

As a backstop plan, find out the specifics of the secret vote and look for links and trends between who voted for Lieberman to keep his Chairmanship of Homeland Security and past/future actions - i.e; the relationship between Bayh and Lieberman as it translates into deeds accomplished or stymied.

One note to consider - given that Homeland Security, from start to finish, has been an unmitigated disaster on so many levels, is there any possibility that the reason Obama didn't get all hot and bothered over this situation is because he plans to phase out or break up Homeland Security back into its original components?  

I've also been wondering… (4.00 / 1)
...about the life of the Department of Homeland Security. Hypothetically, if an Obama administration decides there's a better use for those bureaucratic resources--economic crisis, anyone?--Lieberman could be out of a chairmanship by default.  

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

[ Parent ]
I don't mind the department (0.00 / 0)
Terrorism will be around forever, and as society grows increasingly complex (and probably increasingly fragile) and weapons grow increasingly terrible, we will need to concentrate enough resources on it that a dedicated department is not a bad idea.

But can't they change the frickin name?  "Homeland Security" reeks of the jackboot.  Something a bit more bland, please. . . .

[ Parent ]
Iraq (0.00 / 0)
My understanding is that Obama doesn't need legislation to move troops out of Iraq. The whole point of the fights in Congress in 2007 and 2008 was about limiting funding for the war (which would of necessity end the war), but that was only because Bush was never going to end the war on his own. Congressional action is theoretically required to start a war, but not to end a war.

So I don't think Obama is that concerned that Lieberman is going to be able to block Obama's foreign policy goals. This seems reasonable to me, as after all individual Senators actually don't have that much power to shape foreign policy. Obama apparently is also not concerned about Lieberman potentially using his subpoena power to embarrass the Obama administration. This seems stupid to me, and I strongly disagree with Obama on this one. I hope we don't end up saying "I told you so".

[ Parent ]
The only way... (4.00 / 2)
...Lieberman might have gotten the axe would have been if there were no runoff in Georgia or Franken were 10,000 votes behind.

As long as there was a faint whiff of 60, Joe was in.

BTW, the Dems aren't our teammates but they are the only game in town.  We have to keep the pressure on.  

The supposed 60 is no magic bullet ... (4.00 / 2)
besides .. are Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln guaranteed on cloture for everything?  Ben Nelson?  .. Actually .. I am more interested in the 13 who voted against HoJo .. I know two of them were Leahy and Sanders

[ Parent ]
no silver bullet, but every vote is useful (0.00 / 0)
it's extra margin

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
One of them was Leahy and Sanders. Sanders doesn't get a vote.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
Why doesn't he? ... (0.00 / 0)
so does that mean Lieberman doesn't get a vote either? .. and it sure shows .. the DC Democrats putting friendship over country

[ Parent ]
Sanders DOES get a vote. (0.00 / 0)
Sanders (like Lieberman) caucuses with the Democrats, and this was a meeting and vote of the Democratic Caucus, therefore Sanders would have been allowed to vote on it.

[ Parent ]
carlin quote (4.00 / 5)
"Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They've long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying . . . lobbying, to get what they want . . . Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want . . . they don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that . . . that doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They'll get it . . . they'll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin' place. It's a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in The big club. By the way, it's the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people . . . white collar, blue collar it doesn't matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don't give a fuck about you. They don't give a fuck about you . . . they don't give a fuck about you. They don't care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It's called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . ."

Lieberman (4.00 / 3)
I hope that Obama does get rid of the Homeland Security Department.  I am proudly a big-government radical, but we never needed that department at all.

I hope we get rid of it too... (0.00 / 0)
However, I am a small government person in the sense that I think the Government infrastructure Beuacracy doesn't work... Having worked for the Feds, the various organizations are too bloated for their own good to be truly effective.  

A few things that need to be done...

1) Trim the fat... There are a LOT of unneeded positions.   Move the workers to new positions, provide Early retiremen... but CUT DOWN.  

2)  Create a uniform set of protocols for ALL departments to utilize.  I understand Secret and Higher Clearance will have to be different, but the non clearance positions can EASILY be made uniform.  These protocols need to make getting things done easier... eliminate the bueacracy.

3)  Don't treat Departments like seperate companies...   There needs to be required/forced inter-department communication.   Currently, they act like different Businesses... like Pepsi, Coke, Microsoft, etc.  Instead they need to be seperate departments in the SAME company... like with DISNEY... They have ABC, ESPN, Studios, Theme parks, etc.    There needs to be synergy.

Do some of these things and we'd have a hell of a lot more money availble for Healthcare, social programs and heck, maybe even tax cuts.  

[ Parent ]
Katrina (0.00 / 0)
To his everlasting shame, Holy Joe never investigated Iraq.  Well, he believed in that.  Worse, far worse, he never investigated Katrina.  He didn't want to investigate "the past" that made his neo-con buddies look like the criminals that they are.

When Lautenberg unretired and came back to the Senate, he lost his seniority.  Holy Joe was retired by the voters as a Democrat.  He only kept that the seniority because we needed a 51st seat to organize.  What's the excuse now?  60?  Maybe we can trade him in for the Maine Ladies?

Lieberman is obnoxious.  But that's not the point.  He's undependable and a tad vicious.  No wonder his proteges (the Clintons started out working for Joe's campaign in law school, Obama was mentored by him in a Senate program) passed him by. Lieberman earned the career detour just as he earned this demotion.  Too bad the demotion was not forthcoming.

He's white (0.00 / 0)
and I'll keep saying it. They protect their own while they treat black elected officials like crap (see Cynthia McKinney).  

The man is a bigot but these white senators embrace him. Makes sense to me.

McKinney is nobody to celebrate (4.00 / 1)
She is not anybody most people on this website would support. I think she's as destructive to progressive ideals as Lieberman with her ham-handed knee-jerk self absorbed and optically-clueless antics and tactics.  

This is not because he's white.  Some white politicians get fried.  It's about other things...power politics, favors, payback, fear, leverage, money, strategy....

[ Parent ]
black elected officials (0.00 / 0)
You mean the president?  Isn't it a little early to conclude how executive-legislative relations are going to go?

[ Parent ]
YEs (0.00 / 0)
The white establishment was never behind Obama. Never.

As a black, I am so disgusted right now I could spit.

This is a man who lied about holding hearings on the "lets exterminate the blacks aka Katrina."  He is a bigot and I will not be supporting the white democratic party anymore.

[ Parent ]
It sucks, but good can come of it, and onto bigger things (0.00 / 0)
This is not the end of the world. It has its upsides (if Holyjoe provides one margin vote on one important piece of domestic legis, then this is a win.)  Yes, he's a sanctimonious ass, and it would be just to see him fall.

Yes, progressives will lose battles.  Yes, this is a loss for progressive gut desires.

But dust off and go back in for the next one.  Do not despair.   There are much bigger fish to fry next year...

Time To Move On (0.00 / 0)
Look, I once shook the piece of s**t's hand at a Gore rally.  It's something I have to live with.  

Obama is a street guy, if Lieberman becomes an issue he knows how to deal with him.  

oh (4.00 / 3)
Yes, he'll be tough and give him subpoena power.

[ Parent ]
Maybe... (4.00 / 1)
Then again, Obama might have thought this all through.  THere is a very Machiavellian undercurrent in Obama and his campaign.   Supposedly he made the peace with Joe and McCain...If Joe Fucks him, I have a feeling that there may be some measures in place to take care of him.   Joe owes him now as well, and that favor may come in handy later on.   At this point its done and we will have to wait and see the outcome.

[ Parent ]
no, don't you understand? the guy is dumb (0.00 / 0)
Obama cannot be trusted to possibly be right in this, to any degree.  He clearly doesn't get this whole politics thing.  He's too trusting, too nice, he has no stomach.  

He also never learns from any mistakes, so when this goes wrong, he won't correct course.  

Not to say we can't criticize the guy....but handwringing is just nuts.  

[ Parent ]
Obama clearly isn't dumb (0.00 / 0)
And he is clearly good at politics, to beat the Clinton machine in a bitterly contested primary.

But I agree, just because Obama is smart (possibly brilliant) and a pretty good politician doesn't mean everything he does is automatically right.

He was pretty clearly wrong to the extent that he gave cover for Senate Dems to keep Lieberman. He could have just said something like: 'That is an internal matter for the Senate and I'm not going to comment'.

[ Parent ]
Breaking News!!! (0.00 / 0)
Josh Marshall at TPM reports:

Lieberman expelled from Pilates class in Senate gym.

Now that's restitution we can believe in.


[ Parent ]
time to move on, yes (0.00 / 0)
But let's not pretend that this was some smart move on Obama's part or on the part of the Senate Dem caucus.

While there may be no point now in constantly harping over this, and I'm not about the revoke my support of Obama over the issue (though Reid, maybe), I still think it was a dumb move on his part that sets up his administration for a political attack from Lieberman.

Lieberman is in the club, and being in the club is apparently more important than the wishes of voters. We don't have to like it, and we don't have to assume that this means Obama is never going to do anything progressive, but we sure shouldn't applaud Obama's (and the Senate dems) actions here.

[ Parent ]
This is a 20 year project (4.00 / 2)
These people are not our friends. Pretty much the entire US Senate needs to be replaced, although there are some good voices for us in there right now.

Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Carl Levin ... they all just won re-election by massive margins, were never challenged (or had perfunctory, negligible challengers), and this is what we get. THIS IS WHY WE NEED TERM LIMITS FOR LEGISLATORS.

Harry Reid is up for re-election in 2010. He should be primaried, and hard. The problem is, both Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus are establishment folks who won't want to rock the boat. Can we produce a grassroots progressive in Nevada that is viable in two years?

If we want to shake up the status quo, we need to focus on primarying Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer in 2010. Otherwise, this theater will just continue.  

Um... (4.00 / 1)
Seriously, if you're a progressive in NV, your problem isn't a Senate Majority Leader who sucks at enforcing party discipline.

It's your corrupt Governor, part of a long string of corrupt bastards in NV.

The reality is that while Lieberman is a douchebag who Reid and Obama will regret forgiving, once he knifes them in the back again, there actually are more important things to do than primary every single Democrat in the US Senate who voted the wrong way on this. Pick your battles carefully.

[ Parent ]
The point isn't to primary every Dem (4.00 / 2)
The point is to make it clear that every Dem can be primaried. And the point is to make it clear that politics as usual can't continue.

Do you think that a Senate Democratic caucus led by Harry Reid will be able to maneuver effectively to pass forward-looking, progressive, necessary legislation that moves us towards a zero-carbon energy market? Do you think Harry Reid and this caucus as currently constructed will fight the lobbyists and insiders and establishment folks to pass the best possible health care reform? Will they revisit our privacy protections they helped eviscerate over the past eight (and twenty-eight) years?

Of course they won't. And these ARE our battles.

There are a lot of activists and Democrats that have learned the art of winning grassroots electoral campaigns. If we don't use this toolkit to organize effectively against the establishment, then change will be at best incrementalist. I have faith in Obama, but I don't have faith in the rest of the Democratic insider culture.  

[ Parent ]
Sure, but Reid? Seriously? (0.00 / 0)
Do you think that a Senate Democratic caucus led by Harry Reid will be able to maneuver effectively to pass forward-looking, progressive, necessary legislation that moves us towards a zero-carbon energy market? Do you think Harry Reid and this caucus as currently constructed will fight the lobbyists and insiders and establishment folks to pass the best possible health care reform? Will they revisit our privacy protections they helped eviscerate over the past eight (and twenty-eight) years?

Well, we have two years to see, now, don't we?

A lot of the angst and consternation about Lieberman is reminiscent of the OH NOES of the primary from various Obama/Clinton supporters, I think. Yes, he's a douchebag. Yes, Reid and Obama are being stupid (let's not diminish how Obama's statement backed Lieberman up- I blame him as much for this mess as Reid). Yes, they will regret this- Lieberman just learned there is NO real penalty for fucking over the Dems, so the next time he can do it for the TV cameras, you bet your ass Holy Joe will. At the risk of Godwin'ing this, this is the Democratic Party's equivalent of Munich- utter surrender papered over by people who Don't Get It, and all Reid and Obama have done is postponed the day of reckoning, where they will have NO CHOICE but to deal with Lieberman's backstabbing, because there will be a misericorde sticking out of their back on some important issue with Joe's fingerprints on it.

But in the scheme of things, using intra-party bun fights (which this is) as a way to settle scores has to take a second seat to policy and pragmatism- and yes, I would be more worried about who the NV Governor is than who the US Senate Democratic Majority Leader is in 2010 (census year, BTW)... plus, odds are if you lost Reid, you might easily end up with Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Personally? I thinkk NV progressives should gear up for the governor's race... and let Harry hit up the PACs and whore himself to casinos and mining companies for cash.

[ Parent ]
I don't think we should give them the red meat that they are hoping for (0.00 / 0)
Save the Lieberman hate for the Conn. election and save the Obama hate for the line in the sand issue. imo

Reporters, and I can't exempt myself from this, have been salivating somewhat voyueristically for a round of public fighting between the Left, broadly represented by the Netroots, and the Obama transition entity.


the round of public fighting voyuers may need to (0.00 / 0)
settle for the circular firing squad called "The Republican Party" groping its sorry ass way to be a permanent irrelevant minority.

[ Parent ]
At some point... (4.00 / 1)
Obama and Reid will regret this. I expect Joe to pal around with his BFF John McCain and eventually help to torpedo something important: maybe it will be health care, maybe it will be a Supreme Court justice, maybe it will be some foreign policy initiative.

We'll have to wait until 2012 to be rid of the guy (unless the Ds repent by 2010, not bloody likely), but I think he's toast. There will be an adequate D bench in CT to knock him out by then.

what do (0.00 / 0)
health care and Supreme Court nominations have to do with Lieberman being chair of Homeland Security?

[ Parent ]
Everything is horrible (0.00 / 0)
How long before we have to endure pundits scolding Democrats for being too partisan because they tried to punish Lieberman?

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

One silver lining... (0.00 / 0)
Joementum OWES Obama right now.   That could eventually come in handy.

Riiiiight (4.00 / 2)
Just like he owed the Democrats after they polished his knob when he won re-election in 2006. Your deposits aren't worth shit at the bank of Lieberman.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
well, maybe, maybe not (0.00 / 0)
think about it - what does Lieberman gain by stabbing Obama in the back down the road sometime in, say 2009?   Fame?  More power?  Admiration from the country for taking on a popular president?  A closer embrace from the Republicans, whose power is on the wane?  What does Lieberman gain NOW?  It's easy to see what he might gain in 2007, especially if McCain won.  

[ Parent ]
What did he gain/lose this time? (4.00 / 1)
He got rewarded for stabbing him in the back this time, he's got to expect getting rewarded again.

Conduct your own interview of Sarah Palin!

[ Parent ]
What does HoJo gain from stabbing Obama in the back? .. (0.00 / 0)
more knob polishing from the MSM .. that is what ... more appearances on the Sunday gab fests .. that is what .. that is what HoJo lives for ... we'll see how smart Obama is .. and see what he learned from The Godfather(1 & 2) .. cause remember .. Hyman Roth lost in the end

[ Parent ]
Me too (4.00 / 1)
They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question."

I'm not a me too kinda girl, but I have to say I agree with Matt's analysis this time. The netroots rock at winning campaigns. We suck at influencing legislation. Is it time to revisit the effectiveness of our tactics?

We rock at winning campaigns? (4.00 / 3)
I'm not sure I'd noticed.

I'd say we're average at winning campaigns, damn good at funding them, terrible at influencing legislation, but extremely good at influencing the press narrative.  Josh Marshall is king of that world but Kos and Bowers and twenty or thirty other bloggers all get to play meaningfully in that arena.  It is the single biggest accomplishment of the netroots I'd say, worth more than all the money to Dean and Obama and Lamont.

But yes, a meaningful way to influence legislation has yet to be found.  Legislation just isn't as subject to grassroots pressure as some of these others are.

[ Parent ]
Michigan (4.00 / 1)
Pardon me, Texas. Michigan Dems practically ran the table this election and I'm afraid I probably extrapolated my sunny disposition to the rest of the country. My more somber analysis is:

"The netroots are better than average at helping to win campaigns but we suck at influencing legislation."

[ Parent ]
a really good question (0.00 / 0)
what i'd like to know is, who doesn't suck at influencing legislation? and can we then learn from them?

House members are one thing because of the 2-year cycle, but i feel like calling/faxing/singing-telegraming Senators is something of a waste of time...

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
Lobbyists (0.00 / 0)
....are REALLY good at influencing legislation. What we can learn from them is that money talks.

[ Parent ]
i did think of them (4.00 / 1)
those dear lobbyists - but they can't just wave bags of money and say "this can be yours if you vote X" anymore, right? that may be naive. more subtle versions of that probably do go on - we'll invest in your company, we'll hire you as a consultant, other kinds of untraceable schemes. which is kind of a drag, because it'd be a lot easier in some ways if we could just raise funds to buy them ourselves.

short of bribery, though, there must be specific things that lobbyists do that work. like write the bills for busy Congresspeople and such. if it is about campaign contributions, well we do that too. are we just not sufficiently bundled?

my pessimistic guess is that corporate lobbyists simply like the same things that Congress likes - that they are lobbying for stuff that the Congress is inclined to do anyway, so that it is just about the details. whereas we are trying to get them to act completely out of character, so that it really doesn't matter what we do, because they just don't wanna.

what always strikes me about influence scandals is how cheap it is to rent a vote or two. the fees don't seem out of our reach.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
I like how you're thinking, (4.00 / 1)
but I'll just briefly add re: the cheapness of bribes, that the bribes we see politicians busted for (Stevens' $250k, Jefferson's $40k) are generally going to be 1 or 2% of the bribes they are actually taking, per cycle.  I wouldn't be surprised if Stevens was taking $20 million per six years, or if Jefferson was taking $4 million per cycle.  That might be a little high; maybe I should revise that to 5 or 10%.  But you get the idea.  Jefferson took a lot more over his lifetime than that $40k in his freezer, and Stevens took a lot more than that $250,000 for his house.  Add it all up and it is a number that is well out of reach of the netroots.

OTOH, it may actually be more effective to give honest money to honest politicians (who actually spend it on politics, for instance), than it is to give crooked money to crooked politicians, who spend it on yachts.  If the total small donor contribution to Obama was what, $200 million?,  then five million from the truly plugged-in base should be achievable.  By comparison, the Darcy fundraisers (Burn Bush and the housefire) were in the $100k to $200k range, I think.  So it would take a much broader coalition than just the active readers of blogs.  You'd need an online social-media kind of model to do it.

[ Parent ]
Howard Dean is in the tank on this too (0.00 / 0)
Looks like almost nobody in Washington was willing to get this one right.

BWAHAHAHAHA!!! (0.00 / 1)
Four more years of Liebs!  And six more in 2012 if he wants it.

Man, I'm lovin' this.

speaking of moving on, where were they? (0.00 / 0)
did MoveOn take a position on this? i didn't find anything in the list of current campaigns.

because i can't think of any influence we have beyond being cash machines, which makes turning off any future cash to any Senator who won't fess up to voting against Lieberman the only useful response. and getting the MoveOn masses in on that would make it a bit more visible.

today they told us very explicitly that the country is second fiddle to their little club. you can't count on people like that to vote the right way on anything, i don't think. we have to dis-elect a few.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

We All Know (0.00 / 0)
that we have not heard the last from Lieberman, who is not going to be a good little Democratic trooper; he will do whatever is necessary to keep himself at the center of attention and controversy.  Eventually, we will have to give the repellent little opportunist the heave-ho.


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