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November 11, 2008



I think Josh Marshall summed this up the best when he said "It's not a negotiation". Lieberman has essentially no leverage. If the Democrats offer Lieberman a choice between losing all seniority and getting the chairmanship of some minor subcommittee that rarely meets, then he will take that. There's no way Lieberman would caucus with the Republicans - for one, it would reduce his chances of winning reelection in 2012 from low to zero. An he would have no seniority with them, either. His only negotiating leverage is his ability to complain publicly or act grateful publicly.

In Markos's defense, he has talked before about how there's nothing wrong with leaving Lieberman in the caucus as a powerless back-bencher. His mistake, if you think it's a mistake, is reading a lot into the statement from the Obama camp. I hope it's a mistake.

It's entirely possible (likely?) that this is a smokescreen by Obama and some senate Democrats to shield themselves from criticism. So they come out of the private meeting, and say they're offering Lieberman the Crime and Drugs subcommittee or something, and not only is Obama insulated from criticism, but they can whitewash the whole thing by saying, "well, we had to shuffle things around with all the new senators, so Lieberman just got moved to a different committee". Of course everyone would know that's bullshit, but it doesn't matter.

Then again, maybe I'm just deluding myself, and the Senate Democrats really are about to roll over on this one. In the end, it comes down to the views of the other members of the caucus, or the organizing group, which is smaller. And Senators are famously independent on these things. I'm not sure Obama's statement is anything more than an attempt to insulate Obama from any political fallout.


This just in: the Obama folks make it more explicit.

Executive summary: We're OK with Joe, but the whole committee thing is up to Harry Reid. This is in line with the "insulate Obama from impending political fallout" theory, so I remain hopeful.


I say Ol' Joe needs some Old School schooling: Deny Lieberman seniority on committees of his preference. If he bolts the Democratic Party and becomes a Republican, his political career is over. The GOP candidate in Conneticut will crush him in his next primary. I say call his ff-ing bluff.

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