Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Eating Joe Crow

Here’s something I hadn’t thought of before, from the DLC’s New Donkey:
The other irony, of course, is that Democratic control of the Senate now depends on Joe Lieberman. Nobody has any reason to think he won't do what he promised and caucus with Democrats, but there may be a little bit of uncomfortable crow-eating among those who have spent months arguing that Lieberman's not a Democrat anymore, and should be stripped of his seniority.

Although I never said anything, I always thought it was a bit silly for folks to demand that the Democratic leadership punish Lieberman.  Sure, I understood the reasoning behind it, but I’ve never been a burn your bridges kind of guy, and Joe could still come in handy for us.  Even worse were the folks who continued to attack my hero, Harry Reid, for not punishing Lieberman.  Because that was entirely misguided and stupid.  And it makes us look as vengefully extremist as the wingnuts we denounce so regularly.  Sure, I like to win; but we should leave punishing disloyalty to jerks like Rove.

And now it certainly looks like we need Joe on our side.  Sure, he’s a putz, and probably worse.  And sure, he’s really a Republican in Dem clothing.  But for me, the individual players were never as important as the institutions they work for.  That’s why I always vote straight ticket, even when I have no idea who the lower-ticket Dems are.  Because the individuals aren’t as important as the letter that follows their name.  I’m not saying I’d vote for Hitler if he was the Dem nominee in a Congressional race; but I’m not saying I wouldn’t.

And in this case, if this means the difference between us having the leadership of the Senate or the dangerous Republicans having it, I’m willing to accept a dangerous putz like Lieberman.  Hell, I’d be willing to take any Republican Senator switching sides to help us.  I mean any.  That’s how important this is.  This isn’t about how any of them will vote.  This is about what bills are allowed to come to a vote, and what is and isn’t added to those bills after they leave their respective houses.  And which judges are nominated.  And who gets to subpoena whom.  And all sorts of other good stuff that goes to the winning team.

Overall, I certainly understand the importance of good policies and good politicians and whatnot, but there is such a thing as strategy.  And sometimes strategy makes you do things that aren’t so good in the short-term, but are in the long run.  I don’t at all agree with the DLC’s ideas that always push political strategy over policy, particularly as their strategies are almost always wrong too.  But there’s a fine-line to walk, and it’s usually best to leave your options open as long as possible.  And it’s never a good idea to punish people that you might still need to rely on.  Maybe we’ll beat Joe next time around, but I’ll happily use him in the meantime if it helps us get what we need.

2 comments:

John of the Dead said...

There's an oooold phrase that has fallen out of favor, and I'd like to see it make a come-back. It succinctly describes your feelings, Doc. It's the phrase "Yellow Dog Democrat," referring to someone who would vote for a damned yellow dog, if he's running as a Democrat.

It also reminds me of an old joke:
A man faithfully voted Democrat for years and years. A friend of his teased him about it one day.
"You'd vote for Satan himself if he ran as a Democrat."
The man thought about it for a second and replied, "Well, not in the primary."

Dan said...

The complaint is, that by taking Joe's side, the incumbent senate democrats made his victory all the more likely.

If Lamont had seen some DSCC funding, and more than just Kerry stumping for him, CT voters might have understood who the "good" guy was in the general.

Sure it was politic in not burning a bridge with Lieberman, thus upping the chances he stays with them, but it still costs them as now they need to give this turn-coat seniority and he can blackball them. They could have had a loyal Democratic Senator in Ned Lamont had they tried. Getting 40% when both major parties were supporting your opponent is actually pretty good.

The upside is, he's got at best 2 years of this. 2008 looks very good for the democrats in the senate, with far more republicans up for re-election (and potentially retiring given the map being loaded against them). Lieberman will need to be a little humble or he will be booted from caucus in 2008 when the Democrats have a 55 seat (or more) caucus and maybe even a Democratic vice-president.