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What’s Joe Worth In A "Not 60" Senate?

January 7th, 2010, 04:01 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

While the Senate sorts through its retirement news (Byron Dorgan and Chris Dodd), the likelihood of the Senate staying at exactly 60 seems less and less real. And as a Connecticut resident, the last 24 hours couldn’t help but remind me about two recent Joe Lieberman columns. This one is snarky dialog between Gail Collins and David Brooks on the popularity of the (soon the be senior) CT senator:

David Brooks: The big theme of holiday conversation is what an atrocity Joe Lieberman is. Everybody agrees apparently. Most people who agree couldn’t even tell you what the Medicare buy-in is or what his position on health care reform is. They just know that in polite society it is imperative to detest old Joe.

Gail Collins: David, excuse me! I have been making this point for several years now. In fact I believe I announced in 2007 that Joe Lieberman was responsible for everything terrible that’s happened to the world since 1999.

and this gem from Jon Chait:

I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn’t actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there’s little evidence that he’s a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform. At one point during the 2000 recount, the Gore campaign explained to Lieberman why lowering standards for military ballots would be totally unfair and illegal, and Lieberman proceeded to go on television and subvert the campaign’s position. Gore loyalists interpreted this as a sellout, but perhaps the more plausible explanation was that Lieberman — who, after all, badly wanted to be vice-President — just didn’t understand the details of the Gore position well enough to defend it. The guy was taken apart by Dick Cheney in the 2000 veep debate.

Now, without 60, health reform doesn’t pass the Senate in any way, shape or form, period. Republicans are too afraid of passing something that reminds people that Democrats at least try to help their fellow citizens when they are in power. But without 60, it also means that Joe Lieberman doesn’t matter the same way he did the last two months.

Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Tuesday he would join a Republican filibuster to block the final vote on any health care bill that has a government-run public health insurance option.

Is Joe Lieberman, RNC Convention speaker and McCain endorser, ready to change parties? If it happens, don’t let him fool you into thinking he was chased out. As Collins notes,

Joe Lieberman is not representing anybody but Joe Lieberman. I’ve thought that ever since his last election, when he got bounced by the Democrats and ran as the nominee of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party. Why wasn’t it Lieberman for Connecticut? Because it’s got to be all about Joe, that’s why.

It’s pretty much conventional wisdom that Joe can’t win [in 2012] as a Democrat in CT – too many bridges burned, cut into pieces, and sold on eBay.

Now that Dick Blumenthal will retain Dodd’s seat, he’s not available to beat Joe like an old rug in the next cycle. But don’t worry –  there’s plenty of people that would relish the thought. To protect himself (remember, it’s always all about Joe), he ran as the Republican against Lamont by making sure there was a weak Republican in that slot. Without Karl Rove’s help, he’ll have to do it on his own this time.

If Joe can’t be belle of the ball as an “independent Democrat” [in 2011 and beyond] , look to see him scramble for whatever suits him best. But after health reform passes, he’ll do it without cover from Senate Democrats, who may have their own bone to pick with him over a few issues here and there.

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