Lieberman Says War Vote Could Prompt Party Switch
Joe Lieberman has told The Politico‘s Carrie Budoff that he may switch to the Republican Party if the Democrats continue on their present course.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico on Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties but suggested that Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind. Lieberman, a self-styled independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has been among the strongest supporters of the war and President Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 combat troops into Iraq to help quell the violence there.
“I have no desire to change parties,” Lieberman said in a telephone interview. “If that ever happens, it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable with.” Asked whether that hasn’t already happened with Iraq, Lieberman said: “We will see how that plays out in the coming months,” specifically how the party approaches the issue of continued funding for the war.
TIME’s Massimo Calabresi reports that there are already signs that Lieberman has left the Democrats, even aside from his designation as an “Independent Democrat” and his alienation from the base on the war.
Early this year he terrified fellow Democrats by skipping several of the weekly caucus lunches that cement party fidelity in the Senate. Recently he was spotted in the Republican cloakroom talking with South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham about reforming Social Security. He even says he might vote Republican for President in 2008, a not-so-veiled hint that he would prefer John McCain, his fellow true believer in the Iraq war, to most, perhaps all, Democratic alternatives.
As I noted in November, while I would have welcomed a Lieberman switch before the election, I’m opposed in principle to a party switch without a concomitant resignation and standing for re-election under one’s new party banner. Lieberman was defeated in the Democratic primary and had every right to thumb his nose at his his former party. He promised repeatedly, though, that he would caucus with the Democrats and people voted for him relying on his word.
David Sirota, conversely, would be temporarily disadvantaged by the switch (which would allow Dick Cheney the right to break a tie, essentially overturning the last election) but would welcome a Lieberman switch because “we have basic gridlock right now” and Democrats “could pass their entire agenda through the House and then blame the Republican Party in the Senate and White House for stopping it” if they didn’t nominally control the Senate.
A whole lot more discussion linked at Memeorandum.