The Case Against Lieberman's Chair

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The Case Against Lieberman's Chair

Postby Charles Kozierok on Sat Nov 08, 2008 9:36 am

Can't disagree with much here.

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezra ... bermans_ch

THE CASE AGAINST LIEBERMAN'S CHAIR.

"If you wield a congressional oversight gavel, and your buddy's in the White House, you might just conduct exactly zero investigations into presidential wrongdoing," says Brian Beutler. "But when the election comes, and your other buddy loses to a guy you don't really like, you might think about becoming a real pest to the new administration."

"You," in this case, refers to Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Steve Benen says:
This seems to be routinely overlooked, but take a moment to consider what the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs actually does: it's the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It's an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president's administration.

As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman's House counterpart -- Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee -- was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress.

And yet, now Lieberman acts as if keeping this chairmanship is the single most important part of his public life. Why would he be so desperate to keep the gavel of a committee he hasn't used? I'll let you in on a secret: he wants to start using the power of this committee against Obama.

I don't think that's quite right. Rather, Lieberman wants to keep his committee as a hedge against retribution. So long as he controls Governmental Affairs, he's not the sort of guy Democrats want on a warpath against them. Elsewhere, they can take him seriously, or screw him over, largely as they please, which most would probably find a preferable alternative. But I basically side with the "kick him out" folks. Unlike Arlen Specter, whose minor heterodoxies ended with a pathetic show of groveling and a solemn promise to never, ever, in a million years, ever say an unkind word about one of Bush's judicial nominees, Lieberman's major betrayal of the Democratic Party has been accompanied by a promise to bolt to the Republicans Party if he's not sufficiently stroked. That's not the sort of guy you want in a position of oversight.
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