Harry Reid, not unreasonably, is strongly considering stripping Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship after he campaigned vigorously for the Republican nominee for president.
Reid, in a sternly worded statement after the 45-minute meeting, said no official decisions have been made. But an aide to the Nevada Democrat said Reid was leaning toward removing Lieberman as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential. “While I understand that Sen. 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.
“I want to spend some time in the next few days thinking about what Sen. Reid and I discussed what my options are at this point,” Lieberman said. “He promised me that he would do the same and we would continue these conversations.”
Republicans have said they would welcome Lieberman to their caucus.
Democrats in the past had tolerated Lieberman’s political straddling because he held their slim 51-49 majority in his hands. Now that Democrats have strengthened their hold in the Senate to at least 55 seats as a result of Tuesday’s election, Lieberman no longer is vital to their majority control. Despite splitting with most Democrats on the war in Iraq, Lieberman tends to vote with them on domestic issues such as health care, education and the environment.
One suspects that, in the incredibly unlikely event the Minnesota recount, Georgia run-off, and Alaska inquiry all go the Democrats’ way, Reid will see fit to keep Lieberman around and, otherwise, won’t.
The irony is that the Iraq War, the issue which most divides Lieberman from the Democrats, is going to wind down. It would have even under a President McCain but it’ll happen slightly faster under President Obama and a solid Democratic majority in both Houses.
Lieberman is simply in the uncomfortable spot of being a bad fit for either party. He’s a liberal on social issues but a hawk on foreign policy. He’s every Republicans’ favorite Democrat but, if he switched parties, he’d soon be about as beloved as Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe, widely dismissed as a RINO.