Wheels within wheels

It isn’t just left-wing bloggers who are unhappy with Sen. Joseph Lieberman these days. The Hill newspaper reports that a group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Lieberman’s campaign tactics since he began his run as an independent. According to The Hill:

Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date would bolster terrorists’ planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC’s Today show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.

It must also rankle that Lieberman may soon prove that the Democratic Party’s position on how to fight terrorism is out of the political mainstream even in Connecticut.

The real issue is (to quote Sean Connery) what are the disgruntled Democratic Senators prepared to do. They could threaten to strip Lieberman of his seniority. If the Democrats take control of the Senate (and Lieberman wins) he is slated to take over as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the panel primarily responsible for investigating the executive branch, something the Dems presumably plan to do lots of. In this context, and for what it’s worth, a Democratic Senate staffer says

[Liberman] can’t run against a Democrat and expect to waltz back to the caucus with the same seniority as before. It would give the view that the Senate is a country club rather than representative of a political party and political movement.

Ironically, though, Senator Carper (Delaware), the Democrat likely to assume the chairmanship of the Governmental Affairs Committee if Lieberman does not, is also something of a centrist. Indeed, he has continued to support Lieberman (along with Salazar (Colo.), Pryor (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Inouye (Haw.), according to the Hill.

The reality for Lieberman is that right now he can less afford to alienate Connecticut’s Republican voters than he can afford to alienate liberal Democratic Senators. And I would think that the reality for Senate Democrats is they cannot afford to alienate Lieberman too much, since they may need his support in the next Congress.

Hat tip: Laura Mirengoff.

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