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February 28, 2005

Turncoat Joe

Hate to say it, but I think we're remarkably close to getting screwed by Bush and Holy Joe, and we're not even thinking about why. Lieberman found himself ignominiously rejected during the 2004 primaries, basically ignored during the election, branded a traitor during the Gonzales vote, and then viewed as an enemy on Social Security. The sum total of all that has been a marked uptick of interest among Democrats in finding and funding a primary challenge against him. Worse, Joe's got nowhere left to go, it's unlikely that Democrats are going to retake the Senate anytime in the near future (which would give him a committee chairmanship) and it's damn near impossible that he'll be on another presidential ticket or in a hypothetical Democratic cabinet.

With all that in mind, I see no real reason he'd want to languish in the Senate, condemned to a future of intraparty battles and partisan marginalization. Cutting a deal on Social Security might be his way out, because it might bring with it a new position for Joe: Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration. There's little doubt that he's more interested in war and peace than Medicare reform, and by this point his only chance at respect is being the very embodiment of bipartisanship. Taking credit for shattering the partisan impasse blocking Social Security reform and then ascending to a top cabinet position seems like a pretty attractive path for the otherwise marginal fence-straddler...

Update: I should clarify that I find it entirely possible, given Bush's history, that the deal will be stuck, Joe will will vote against SS, and then he'll be left twisting in the wind. My point in the post is not what Bush will or won't do, but what Lieberman thinks he will or won't do.

February 28, 2005 in Democrats | Permalink

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» So THIS is what it's come to, for Joe Lieberman from E Pluribus Unum
Ezra Klein is pretty sure the Dems are about to get screwed by Joe Lieberman. Here's why.... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 6:25:04 PM

» Lieberman's Prospects from CommonSenseDesk
Ezra on Senator Lieberman's future prospects. [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 6:39:18 PM

» What is truth anymore? from Doubly Sure
The dirty kind of politics practiced by USA Next is one step along a continuum that starts with losing sight of the ends of politics, moves through distortion, and ends who knows where. The Democrats - and they need to realize this - are on the same ... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 28, 2005 8:51:20 PM

Comments

Honestly, this meanding bullshit is the last straw. I don't care if he eventually votes against SS "reform". Screw him.

Posted by: Sandals | Feb 28, 2005 6:15:11 PM

Interesting, but I don't think so. I happen to know that Joe really really wanted the Secretary of Homeland Security position; he didn't get it, and proceeded to tell everyone who would believe his bullshit that he turned down the job. I don't know why Bush would make him Secretary of Defense after Social Security--Bush doesn't gain anything in so-called bipartisanship that Lieberman didn't already have to offer, though I suppose if Lieberman could actually hand Bush victory on this it would give him (Lieberman) major leverage. I just don't see it happening. It's possible that Lieberman would be given some piddling position if he really looks to be in danger from a primary.

Posted by: Marshall | Feb 28, 2005 6:35:27 PM

Well said, Marshall. We must also remember that Bushco never rewards people for cooperating - that is seen as weakness.

What is far more likely is that Ezra wrote what Rove is telling Lieberman - only that once Lieberman is fully bought and paid for, he'll be left to twist in the wind. After all, why would Rove want to alleviate a possibly damaging intra-party fight?

I can't believe how, after four years of amazingly consistent behavior on the part of this administration, people seem to think that it will be different this time. Bush's good ole boy back-slapping routine is only a way to hide the dagger in his hand.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 28, 2005 6:59:12 PM

Wow. I never looked at it that way... now this is why I keep you around!

Posted by: Kate | Feb 28, 2005 7:32:39 PM

I don't disagree with you, Ezra, but I think it still reflects badly on Joementum.

Look--sure, Lieberman would like to be SecDef, and heck, I'd like him to be, too; no matter what his faults, he's a significant upgrade from Rummy. And sure, the Democrats haven't tripped overthemselves for Joe--though I wouldn't be stunned to see Lieberman get a nod at State and/or Defense from President H.R. Clinton.

All this is true, and fine. But Lieberman is hardly the first politician to fail to get love from his party faithful. He's just one of the few to take it personally.

In the end, if you're a politician, you don't choose your constituents, they choose you. Lieberman can be as ambitious as he wants to be, but he chose to run as a Democrat, and he owes the Democratic party not because they're helping him, but because as an elected representative he owes the party for his very existence on the stage. If Lieberman sells out the most core of Democratic core principles, then no, he does not deserve sympathy from our side. As slim as our positon is, he still deserves to be summarily dismissed from the caucus, challenged for his seat, and generally hounded. If his constituents--the good citizens of Connecticut--still see fit to reelect him, then fine. But until then, the Democratic party does not owe support to those who would hand the opposition a rope when they should be handing them anchors.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke | Feb 28, 2005 8:59:17 PM

If he cuts a deal, then I say, sink the bastard. I mean really. He loses on two points: first, he sells out his own party (no matter what he thinks he's doing) and does dirty to his country; and second, he sells out himself. If I were Bush, I'd take Joe's vote (promising him anything he wanted in return), then welsh on the deal. What's Joe going to say? "I only voted to gut Social Security because I thought I would get X, Y or Z, and now I've been double-crossed?" No. Joe would shut up and take it, waiting for the primary challenge he knows his coming.

Jerk.

Posted by: Charlie Robb | Feb 28, 2005 10:02:58 PM

When is he going to switch to the Repub party and will they take him?

Posted by: merlallen | Feb 28, 2005 10:34:23 PM

Only one problem with your hypothesis, Jeff: What happens to Dumsfeld? It's a bit late to reshuffle the Cabinet again, and given his record of "catastrophic success" in Iraq I can't imagine people are going to be falling all over themselves to get him on their boards--unless the position is purely ceremonial, which I can't imagine he'll be happy with.

Posted by: Musing Michael | Feb 28, 2005 10:56:17 PM

Oh, don't worry, Michael: I'm under no illusion that Rummy is going anywhere but to a nice dinner out before returning to his Georgetown apartment. Would I rather have Lieberman than Rumsfeld? Sure. Do I believe that's likely? No. I think SecDef Perle is far more likely. One thing this administration has proven thus far is that you really shouldn't root for people to step aside, because the next person in line is actually worse.

Boy, can't wait to see who they pick to replace unCurious George.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke | Mar 1, 2005 1:48:27 AM

Why does everyone think Lieberman is trying to get something for his cooperation, or trying to find a new career ladder after flaming out in the primaries? Look, this is his nature. He just likes to bash fellow Democrats. He's not looking for anything in return. He's been like this for years.

Posted by: Steve M. | Mar 1, 2005 7:53:48 AM

Imagine my surprise this morning, Jeff, when I woke up to the news that Wolfowitz was being considered as the next head of the World Bank. What the hell? What that man knows about international finance could probably be printed in 300-point type on the head of a pin. On the other hand, maybe it would mean we could finally start talking about a reasonable exit strategy from Iraq...

Posted by: Musing Michael | Mar 1, 2005 11:30:39 AM

Why don't you call Joey and let him know what you think?

202-224-4041

I told him that'd I'd be supporting his Primary opponent with my campaign contributions if he went with Bush on SS.

Maybe a couple thousand calls will wake his sorry ass up. You can be real glad if you didn't support this bozo in the Democratic Presidential primaries. I'm pretty sure his sorry-ass cost Gore the Presidency.

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