Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bye-Bye Lie-berman

Joe Lieberman's political future remains in limbo today after his party held a private meeting to discuss punishing the senator for his vocal opposition to Barack Obama.

Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, said "no decisions have been made" about whether to continue allowing Lieberman to remain a de facto member of Obama's party.

"While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus," Reid said in a statement.

Lieberman became an independent in 2006 but attended most Democratic meetings before this year, when he began campaigning loyally for close friend John McCain.

His enthusiastic criticism of Obama makes Lieberman a top target for conversion by Republicans, although switching parties could alienate his base in the blue state of Connecticut, which he has represented in Washington for 20 years.

More clues to Lieberman's future could come in two weeks, after senators have returned to the Capitol to conclude their annual session, according to Reid. Democrats could decide to oust Lieberman from his cosy perch atop the Senate homeland security committee or even bar him outright from their ranks.

Still, as much as liberals would rejoice at a Lieberman ejection -- viewing it as payback for his embrace of McCain and the Iraq war -- the move could backfire. Because Democrats do not command the 60 Senate votes required to defeat Republican obstruction tactics, Lieberman's cooperation is integral to passing much of their agenda.

Most Democrats say it is not Lieberman's McCain endorsement that most angers them, but rather his dim view of the president-elect. In one Election Day interview, Lieberman sniffed that "having worked with [Obama] in the Senate … he just hasn't done very much".

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