It looks like Joe Lieberman will not lose his committee chairmanship after all:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Democrats appear willing to let Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, keep his powerful Homeland Security Committee chairmanship, even though he campaigned vigorously for Sen. John McCain’s White House bid, two sources told CNN Monday.
But the veteran lawmaker will, according to the sources, lose a less prominent chairmanship of a subcommittee on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“He’s not happy about it, but he accepts it,” one of the sources said.
Several lawmakers involved in the discussions over Lieberman’s fate credited President-elect Barack Obama’s desire to keep Lieberman in the Democratic caucus and let bygones be bygones as being a key reason Democratic leaders have agreed to support allowing Lieberman to keep his committee chair.
Democrats will meet behind closed doors in the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol Tuesday morning. The Lieberman matter will be the first item on the agenda and a vote will be cast by secret ballot.
Lieberman and several other senators are expected to make presentations about Lieberman’s behavior during the campaign. Several senators who are angry with Lieberman told CNN they would question Lieberman in detail about what he said and why when he was campaigning for Republican nominee McCain.
Not surprisingly, this has the blogospheric left rather upset. Daily Kos calls the apparent deal with Lieberman “not acceptable”, and Firedoglake says that Senate Democrats intended to rebuke not Lieberman, but the online movement that sought to kick him out of the Senate two years ago:
The Senate Democratic caucus don’t hate Lieberman, they hate you. They hate you for having the temerity to think you could take down a sitting US Senator, or hold him accountable for his actions.
Take that, you…you…plebe.
The reality, I think, is somewhat different.
Joe Lieberman’s relatively light punishment was sealed, I think, once Barack Obama made it clear that he wanted Joe Lieberman to remain in the Senate Democratic Caucus.
After that, it was all over.
Obama didn’t publicly address the question of Lieberman’s Committee Chairmanship, but by saying that he wanted Lieberman to stay in the caucus and “put the campaign behind us,” Obama made clear to Reid and the Senate leadership that they would be better making a deal with Lieberman than publicly rebuking him.
While we can’t know what Obama’s logic behind this was, one can imagine that he would rather have Lieberman on his side than antagonized, especially on an issue like homeland security. Politically, it may turn out to be yet another smart move on the part of the President-Elect.