[Cartoon by Bob Englehart]
Dana Bash at CNN reports that Holy Joe is unhappy about his looming and well-earned demotion, and is thinking about joining the Republican caucus:
A Senate Democratic source familiar with the meeting confirms that account and tells CNN that one of options Reid gave Lieberman in a private meeting Thursday is Chairman of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee.
But the aide to Lieberman says the Connecticut senator made clear that was “not acceptable” to him, and reminded Reid that he was one of the Senators who wrote the legislation creating the Homeland Security Department, and that’s where he wants to stay.
Nothing was resolved in the meeting, and the Lieberman aide tells CNN that although he still wants to caucus with the Democrats, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has contacted Lieberman about formally aligning with Republicans, and that Lieberman is “keeping all of his options open.”
An aide to McConnell confirms to CNN that the two men “have been talking.”
As Steve Benen says:
Look, Reid is offering Lieberman a very sweet deal. By some counts, much too sweet. Lieberman betrayed the Democratic Party and broke his word to his own Democratic constituents. Reid is nevertheless willing to a) let him stay in the Democratic caucus; b) keep his seniority; and c) give him the chairmanship of something else. That, by any reasonable measure, is ridiculously gracious of Reid. It's certainly more generosity than Lieberman deserves or has earned.
Joe can threaten all he likes, but fact is: He's irrelevant now. There's no reason for Dems to cave on these threats.
Let's let his Democratic colleagues know. As Josh Orton at MyDD says:
Before, Lieberman was hoping to privately lobby his colleagues to save him. But with the curtain pulled back, we can lobby the same potential Lieberman allies. And now they'll have to choose between personal loyalty to Joe and doing the right thing - with the whole world watching.
If they hear from enough of us, there's no way Joe keeps his position of power.
So let's get to the phones. And the emails.
The number for the Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Start with your own Senator, but call the more conservative members of the Dem caucus too. Ask whether they support Lieberman remaining as Chair of the Homeland Security committee, given his unfair attacks on President-elect Obama. Be polite, and calm. The young people who answer the phones are entry-level staffers.
The key will be making sure the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee holds the line.