Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Joe Lieberman Fortunate He's Not Lisa Murkowski

"I belong to no organized political party. I'm a Democrat."- Will Rogers

The Republican Party shows how it's done.

No, really. A popular United States Senator loses her bid for renomination- so narrowly it spurs a (futile) recount- and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee reacts as, well, a party leader should:

Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee has issued a clear warning to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), telling her that she risks losing her party leadership role if she goes through with recent plans to run for reelection as a write-in candidate, Politico reports.

"It's hard to see how you stay as part of the Republican leadership if you are no longer running as a Republican," Cornyn said according to Politico. "I think that's pretty much the end of that."

Sen. Murkowski currently serves as the vice chairwoman NRSC and has more than $1 million in funds potentially available to her if she remains on the ballot in November.

On Wednesday, Fox News reported that Murkowski is strongly considering running as a write-in candidate after her shocking loss in the GOP primary to Tea Party-backed Joe Miller. Murkowski had sought to run as a Libertarian third-party candidate, but the Alaska Libertarian Party rejected her candidacy last month, saying that her voting record disqualified her from that party affiliation.

It is not at all clear that a write-in candidacy by Murkowski would help ensure the election of Tea Party favorite and reactionary Joe Miller, suggesting that Cornyn's approach is not grounded in any fear that the incumbent might throw the election to Democrat Scott McAdams. Rather, Miller is the GOP nominee, and that's that.

Compare that to the Democratic Party. In 2006 Ned Lamont defeats incumbent Joe Lieberman in the senatorial primary in Connecticut, defects to run as an Independent and, backed (with a wink of the eye) by Republicans and many prominent Democrats, defeats the hapless GOP nominee and Ned Lamont. Democrats retake the Senate and Lieberman is awarded chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

In April of 2008, asked whether likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama is a "Marxist," Lieberman said

Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question. I know him now for a little more than three years since he came into the Senate and he’s obviously very smart and he’s a good guy. I will tell ya that during this campaign, I’ve learned some things about him, about the kind of environment from which he came ideologically. And I wouldn’t…I’d hesitate to say he’s a Marxist, but he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.

Lieberman went on to endorse John McCain for President, was nearly selected as the vice-presidential running mate, spoke in prime time at the Republican National Convention, and was virtually inseparable from the Arizona senator on the campaign trail. On October 5, he would tell the Fox News Sunday audience "you know, Senator Obama has really been spreading falsehoods about John regularly since then about his tax plans, about his health care plans, which are good for middle-class America." Eighteen days later the Connecticut senator would outdo himself(link from Think Progress to politickernh.com no longer available), commenting

There are ways I suppose you can make an argument that there are some similarities between what Sen. Obama is talking about (‘spreading the wealth’) and classic, what used to be known as socialist theory…[but] I’m not going to use the name calling.

After Senator Obama is elected and Congress is reorganized, there is an a movement to remove from his leadership position the guy who arguably was the most fervent opponent of the fellow who was elected president. Nonetheless, Mr. Beyond Partisanship/Above Partisanship, President-elect Barack Obama, "and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada struck a conciliatory tone in public, allowing Lieberman to remain head of the influential committee. The secret ballot vote was 42 to 13."

Unfortunately (here at least), ye shall repeat what ye sow. Having noticed that Blue Dog Democrats get their way by standing up to President Obama,

Lieberman, who caucuses with Senate Democrats, expressed his "strong" support for the temporary extension of the across-the-board tax cuts in a speech to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce in Connecticut. His support for the Republican position of not raising any taxes in the midst of a recession highlights the intense battle set for Congress as lawmakers return to Washington Monday.

A true Machiavellian might speculate: Barack Obama is pleased when a moderate or conservative Democrat comes out in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts for individuals earning over $200,000, or joint filers earning over $250,000, annually. That way, he can, after posturing as a supporter of the middle class against the wealthy, take the easy way out and support extension of all the cuts. That may be overly cynical, however; the President, who was obsessed during the health care debate to have reform fully paid for, similarly now has stood steadfast against reimposing the the deficit-exploding tax cuts for the wealthy.

Once again, though, Joe Lieberman is there to undercut the Democratic Party, if not Barack Obama.

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