Just for a moment, put aside all the usual concerns about Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Forget about his inexplicable position on the war, his triangulation, his right-wing talking points, his politics of fear, and his inability to stick to basic principles he claims to hold dear. Forget all of that, at least for a moment, and consider his leadership as chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs.
Lieberman, while seeking re-election last year, said this committee was his top priority, and he wanted to be chairman. In the Senate, this is a committee that hasn’t gotten much attention over the last decade, but this used to be the committee that struck fear into the hearts of administration officials. It was, after all, the panel Joe McCarthy used to pursue his witch hunt.
The Connecticut Post’s Hugh Bailey notes today that whatever you think of Lieberman’s politics, the fact remains that he has key Senate responsibilities — which he’s choosing to ignore.
The leader of the House version of Lieberman’s committee is Rep. Henry Waxman of California. Armed with subpoena power, Waxman has already delved into the Pentagon propaganda operation, which fictionalized the stories of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman; he’s investigating the parallel e-mail system that may have allowed White House political staff to avoid laws on preserving communications; and he wants answers from the top about the lies leading up to the Iraq invasion. There is no chance of seeing similar investigations in the Senate committee — Lieberman knows which voters got him back into office last year, and they weren’t Democrats.
But he can take credit for one achievement. He succeeded in getting Republicans and Democrats to alternate seats with one another around the dais when they meet in committee, rather than splitting up on one side or the other. All the better for civility.
If the self-appointed arbiter of all things bipartisan is going to turn his back on doing the job he was elected to do, he can at least make sure everyone is nice to each other.
Instead of a Senate Committee on Government Affairs that functions as it should, Lieberman just treads water, using his gavel as a flotation device. It’s an embarrassing waste.
If Dems increase their majority by even one seat in 2008, the very first order of business has to be taking that committee away from Lieberman. He’s proven that he doesn’t deserve it.