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Jewish World Review
Nov. 10, 2006
/ 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767
Lloyd M. Green
Last Tuesday the GOP lost big time. But that
still does not mean that politics is any less intriguing and
Already, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been
accurately lampooned on Saturday Night Live ("America has always been a
religious nation my staff tells me"), and House Democrats are toying
with the slogan of "Corruption starts on Day One" as Ms. Pelosi stands
by John Murtha in his bid for House Majority Leader. But the more
interesting story may play out in the United States Senate. There,
would-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been implicated in the
Abramoff lobbying investigation, according to ABC News, while New York
Senator Charles Schumer (who is truly gifted and able give the man
his due) is giving interviews to the New York Observer on how the
Democratic Party can keep and grow its majority, while the New York
Times recounts how Senator Joe Lieberman was dissed by his party, and
now in his electoral triumph, holds the balance of the Senate in his
hands, just like Justice O'Connor. In other words, the Democratic
Senate majority actually hangs by a whim, a thread , or possible
During the campaign, pundits and papers reported
that Democratic staffers, and not just the blogosphere, were talking
about stripping Senator Lieberman of his seniority if Lieberman's
candidacy succeeded. At the time, Senator Harry Reid announced that he
would not discuss committee assignments until after the November
election. Reid's refusal to silence the staffers stands in contrast to
then-Senator Howard Baker's actions the night of the 1980 New York
Republican Primary for U.S. Senate.
The 1980 primary pitted incumbent Jacob Javits
against upstart Al D'Amato. Senator Javits lost the primary. But on
the night of Javits' primary loss, Senator Baker, the then-Senate
Minority Leader, assured Javits that if he won in the general election,
Javits would retain his seniority and keep his seat as ranking
Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the end,
Javits lost and never became Committee Chairman.
For the moment, Lieberman says that he will
caucus as a Democrat. For the moment, Lieberman's Democratic colleagues
realize they messed up. Senior Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd,
who turned on Lieberman after Lieberman lost the Democratic Primary,
yesterday acknowledged that "we all make decisions, and those decisions
have consequences." For his part, Senator Reid, a former boxer,
imagined a desert landscape and intoned "We're all family." All that
was missing was a round of hugs and hand holding.
Yet, the reality is that Senator Lieberman
skipped a meeting of Connecticut's Democratic Congressional delegation,
and, on Meet the Press Senator Lieberman also made clear that he was not
wedded to the Democratic Party. Perhaps, it is worth remembering what
another New England Senator, Jim Jeffords, did back in May 2001.
Jeffords switched from being Vermont's Republican Senator, and instead
became an Independent who caucused with the Democrats.
Jeffords switch gave the Senate Democrats a majority for 18 months. As
a reward, the Democrats allowed Jeffords to keep his chairmanship of the
Environment and Public Works Committee.
History has a way of repeating itself, and of
playing small tricks. If Lieberman switched to the GOP and kept his
seniority he would stand to be Chairman of the Homeland Security and
Government Affairs Committee which would otherwise go to Maine Senator
Susan Collins if the Republicans took control. The irony is that Susan
Collins is an actual friend of Lieberman who crossed party lines to
endorse and campaign for Lieberman.
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Lloyd Green, a native of Brooklyn, served in the campaigns of George H. W. Bush, was a member of the 1988 presidential transition team, and an appointee at the US Department of Justice between 1990 and 1992. He graduated from Columbia University and Cornell Law School. Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, Lloyd Green