Independent Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman

Independent Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut

Two years ago, despite having been their  Vice Presidential nominee,  Democrat, Connecticut, Senator Joe Lieberman was defeated in his attempt to win the democrat party’s nomination for re-election. A very far left candidate won the nomination instead of him. But Senator Lieberman stayed in the race. He ran as an Independent and ultimately defeated the Republican and Democrat nominees in the general election and held on to his senate seat.

Since then, Senator Lieberman has considered himself an Independent Democrat and aligned himself with Democrats by joining their conference. Because of his caucusing with them, he was given the chairmanship of the senate’s all important homeland security committee.

Over the course of the two past years, Senator Lieberman has voted in line with democrats on most all policy issues. The only exceptions were rooted in our involvement in Iraq and the war on terror.

Beyond policy, Senator Lieberman broke with Democrats and endorsed Senator John McCain for President.  He sees very deep differences with the defense policies of Democrats.  He also sees those differences to be so important and significant, that for the sake of national security, above political loyalty, he endorsed John McCain.  It was a courageous act.  Especially when you consider that electing Republicans to federal office from Liebermans’s home state of Connecticut is a very rare event and not looked upon positively by the elctorate that Lieberman represents.  However, Joe Lieberman put country first and his own politcal fortunes at home, on the line.

Now that the election is over Joe Lieberman, who was not running for anything this time around, might be one of the first victims in the aftermath of Obama’s victory.  As President-Elect, Obama is going to the White House.  His rival, John McCain, is off the hook.  But for supporting John McCain over Barack Obama,  Joe Lieberman finds himself to be a target.

Republicans, in need of any extra warm bodies that they can find on their side, are targeting Joe Lieberman so that they can get what they were denied in the election …a win.

Democrats are targeting Joe Lieberman so that they can achieve something too. Retribution. Retribution for one of their own supporting the opposition.

If Democrats were smart, they would not target Lieberman for retribution. Instead of threatening to strip his committee chairmanship away they should be embracing him. Liberal senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada would actually be better off for doing so.

By keeping Lieberman on, Democrats can send a message which states that their leadership does not put petty, partisan politics above service and the national interests. Democrats claim that they are the big tent and if that is the case, how big is that tent if it actually doesn’t have room for someone who agrees with them on everything except for the extent to which we must be on the offense in the war on terror? Are liberals that fearful of one of their own raising questions about their liberal defense policies?

Ronald Reagan once stated that “my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy” and he was right. For Joe Lieberman to be penalized, for supporting John McCain, would be an act that reveals some fatal flaws in their thinking.

One would be that they are more concerned with the 20 percent of difference that they have with Lieberman than they are with the 80 percent of agreement that they share. Such a view does not help reach compromise nor does it unite people.

The other flaw that would be demonstrated by stripping Lieberman of his post, would be Democrats misguided priorities. It would indicate that they are less concerned with an honest assessment of the issues that allows for all opinions to be properly aired and debated. Essentially they would be showing that, to them, party comes before country. Denying Joe Lieberman his chairmanship would help prove that Democrats are playing games with our security and the war on terror.

On the other hand, if Harry Reid was smart, he would understand that the homeland security committee is quite important and as such it would behoove him to instill some faith in the decisions that come out of that committee by having an independent face leading it.

Reid needs to keep someone like Lieberman on as it’s chairman. The issue of homeland security needs to be tackled by sincere efforts and devoid of partisan politics. As an Independent, Senator Lieberman is just right for that job. On top of that, he is still a member of the Democrat caucus. As such, Harry Reid’s best interests are being served by  having a friendly Joe Lieberman that is as cooperative as possible rather than a disgruntled Joe Lieberman who has an ax to grind.

So if Reid was at all smart, he would sit down with Lieberman and say “you’re gonna keep your committee chairmanship on homeland security, but you owe us”.

On the other side of the coin, leaders of the senate minority, in the Republican senate chambers, have also met with Lieberman and targeted him to make up for some of the multiple losses that they suffered at the ballot box.

That is a smart move on their part.

While being threatened by Democrats and in jeopardy of losing his power, Lieberman could easily become a Republican if they offered him the right incentives.

Democrat Senate majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada

If they made Lieberman the ranking Republican on the homeland security committee, he would become the leading oppositions to Democrats on the committee. That would make any opposition that Joe Lieberman has to Democrat initiatives regarding homeland security even stronger. Each time a report came out on any disagreements, it will begin with “former Democrat Joe Lieberman challenged Democrat’s proposals to…..”.

Having one of their own ,opposing Democrats, will not help to gain support for Democrat positions .

On top of adding more persuasiveness to Republican arguments regarding homeland security, Lieberman’s presence in the senate as a Republican, would help to demonstrate the fact that Republicans are actually the party with the big tent that respects different opinions.

As for Joe Lieberman personally, he is actually in a good position. If Democrats do the right thing, they will allow him to keep his chairmanship. If they do, Lieberman will not experience any less power or influence than he has now.

If liberals show their spitefulness and dump Lieberman, than he will be one of two independents and the only one not caucusing with either of the two parties. That would significantly reduce his staff budget and legislative influence. If that were to happen,   by caucusing with Republicans, Lieberman could make his voice the loudest one in the room on some key issues and maintain a budget provide by the the GOp and all that comes with being it’s ranking member on the homeland security committee.

Such a move would also embarrass Harry Reid and his fellow democrat senators. At a time when democrats have taken total control of Washington, DC, losing one of their own to the other side, at the onset of the party’s rise to power, will not bode well when it comes to the longevity of their majority status




Filed under politics


  1. Pingback: US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » WILL ELECTION RESULTS MAKE DEMOCRATS TURN ON ONE OF THEIR OWN?

  2. In your well written article, you are mistaken in part in ascribing motivations to Democrats that are too limited.

    The anger against Joe Lieberman goes back to 2006. He was not the only Senator who continued to support a forever occupation.

    But even then he was unique as a Democrat in going out of his way to taunt those whose support he demanded.

  3. Ann

    Thank you. You also argue effectively. We shall see what happens. You could be right, but it depends on how much attention the Lieberman issue receives. If it is quickly forgotten, it won’t have much of a long term impact. I suspect that is what will happen, but you never know.

  4. kempite

    Ann, you are right. This is most likely Lieberman’s last term in the senate, probably.

    You are also right about his probably caucusing with the GOP and, that I would have a problem with a Republican opposing our homeland security efforts and being Chairman of that Committee.

    The difference here though, is that, noting for a moment that the H.S. committee does not effect the way the war is being waged abroad, Lieberman’s leadership on the H.S. committee does not differ in any great extent when compared to his fellow, former, Democrats on the committee. That being the case, they are better off keeping him in their caucus than having him help sabotage their efforts outside of their caucus.

    Either way, your arguments were not only correct, in my opinion, but they were delivered well and I appreciate that. However there will be repercussions for stripping Lieberman of his post and it will come back to haunt them.

  5. Ann

    I have a hard time believing that, but okay. I think we’ll agree to disagree. Lieberman will likely lose his Chairmanship and caucus with the GOP, and most Democrats I know don’t really see this as a huge loss. Come 2012, he’ll lose his Senate seat anyway, so the point is kind of moot, anyway. He barely squeaked by in 2006, and the last two years ought to seal his fate.

  6. kempite

    I would be okay with it if such an independent campaigned against the worst of my party’s positions. I would be okay with it if the people of his state affirmed their support of such a candidate by re-electing him.

  7. Ann

    So you’d be okay with an Independent who caucused with the GOP and actively campaigned for the Democratic candidate for President and denounced your candidate at the DNC retaining his Chairmanship of a powerful Senate committee?

  8. kempite

    Ann…..His party turned his back on him two years ago when they chose to elect a different person for his seat. Other democratic elected officioals even refused to help Lieberman get re-elected because they did not want to get in the middle of a primary. they left him. yet he is still a reliable vote for democrats on everything from taxes and education to abortion and social welfare.

    If they are so over confident in their majority numbers that they are willing to sacrifice a person who believes in the principles that the democratic Party has abandoned, then they will be making a mistake and getting what they deserve.

    I thought democrats were the party of tolerance and reconcilliation but if they strip away Liebermans’c I guess they aren’t. If they strip of his chairmanship they demonstrating that thet are intolerant and can’t even reconcile there own differences.

  9. Ann

    The problem with this argument is that Lieberman is not one of ours, and he hasn’t been for awhile. I agree that he has the right to support his choice for President, but to continually denigrate the President-Elect on the campaign trail and actively campaign for other Republicans is turning away from his former party. He made his choice, and now he has to pay the price. He will likely be stripped of his chairmanship, and he probably knew that would happen if Obama won. If the situations were reversed, I’m sure that you would have an issue with letting a guy like this keep a very powerful chairmanship.

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