What should Lieberman do?

June 5, 2008

Why Lieberman needs to come out with guns firing

The people at Daily Kos are crowing over an alleged altercation between Obama and Lieberman. There are several different versions but apparently Obama gave Lieberman a strong talking to on the Senate floor. This has led people to specualte that Lieberman has been given an ultimatum to either stop supporting McCain, or to lose his committee assignments (or worse). However, Lieberman clearly passed the point of no return in December and he is living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks that there is any way he will keep his committee chairmanship under President Obama. In any case, the recklessness of Obama’s foreign policy would make such a chairmanship not worth having under an Obama presidency. Even if this were not so, a capitulation to Obama would be to surrender his self respect to someone who is young enough to be his son.

My view is that Lieberman should call Obama’s bluff and continue his role as a McCain surrogate, only he should stop pulling his punches and really go after Obama. Lieberman’s civil rights background gives him the necessary cover against any criticism he will garner for attacking Obama’s inexperience, insincerity and misguided views on foreign policy. Just as Bill Clinton proved that hitting below the belt will (rightly) ailenate people, his wife proved that if Obama is engaged on the issues he will fold. Indeed, Hillary Clinton’s failure to get the nomination also shows that failing to engage Obama is a path to sure defeat. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Lieberman is an effective attack dog, as he showed in his criticsim of Mitt Romney in Florida. The only thing Lieberman should not do is overly complicate things or attempt to hedge his bets.



  1. Even Scott McClellan knows that to remain loyal to the Republicans is to be unemployed in 2009. If Obama makes it clear that his political career will be over unless he backs him, I think he’ll fall rank-and-file behind him.

  2. The worst that Obama can do is to strip him of his committee assignments, which is going to happen anyway, irrespective of what Lieberman does now.

  3. Sen. Obama can’t strip Lieberman of anything; only Harry Reid can and he already said that he won’t. (However, come 2009, Lieberman will be sacked and we all know it.)

  4. I think Lieberman should leave the Democratic caucus and give Republicans back to majority for these next couple of months. We all know that the Dem’s do not need him after Jan 2009 and he will be given really bad committee assignments. If he switches the Republicans should guarantee to him that he can keep his chairmanship and that when the Republicans go back into the minority he would stay on as ranking member of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. This is a better deal than he would get with the Dem’s in the new congress.

  5. I don’t think it’ll happen. Lieberman knows that Independents will rally against him if he swings Congress back to the Republicans. He’s a man of presidential ambitions. What he wants is a cabinet position.

    Source: anybody from Connecticut.

  6. In response to 3. I know that Harry Reid, rather than Obama, is in control of the party whip, but Obama is now the de facto leader of the Democratic party (although the Democrats might be constrained by the operating agreement in any case).

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