Obama: Don't Expel Lieberman - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obama: Don’t Expel Lieberman

Barack Obama has reportedly told Harry Reid that Senate Democrats should keep Joe Lieberman among their ranks:

Obama told Reid in a phone conversation last week that expelling Lieberman from the Democratic caucus would hurt the message of bipartisanship and unity that he wants for his new administration, a Senate Democratic aide said Tuesday. This aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential….

Obama says he won’t get involved in the fight on Capitol Hill over whether Democrats should take away Lieberman’s chairmanship of a key committee to punish him for backing his close friend McCain for president.

“We aren’t going to referee decisions about who should or should not be a committee chair,” Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement Tuesday. “President-elect Obama looks forward to working with anyone to move the country forward. We’d be happy to have Sen. Lieberman caucus with the Democrats. We don’t hold any grudges.”

That seems like a convenient way of offering to do the statesman-like, bipartisan thing while avoiding any responsibility if the Democrats strip Lieberman of his Senate Government Affairs Committee chairmanship. Next year the Democrats will control at least 57 Senate seats instead of the current 51-49 split and Dick Cheney will no longer be president of the Senate. That makes Lieberman a lot less useful to Reid & company.

In case things don’t work out with Reid, Lieberman is now said to be in talks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about caucusing with the Republicans. But it’s hard to see how that would be particularly useful unless Lieberman changes his position on some domestic issues or agrees to sustain GOP filibusters regardless of his personal position. With the economy looming larger than Iraq, Lieberman’s voting record seems likely to return to the Democratic fold even if the Connecticut senator himself is expelled from it.

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