At this point, Democrats everywhere are pretty familiar with the Senate caucus’ “Lieberman Problem.” Aside from his problematic votes and rhetoric, Joe Lieberman wants, apparently more than just about everything, to be the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. If Harry Reid denied him the gavel, Lieberman would leave the party, and create a 50-50 split in the chamber.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s friends are certain that if Democrats expand their one-vote Senate edge in this year’s elections, they will kick him out of the Senate Democratic caucus and, therefore, oust him as Homeland Security Committee chairman.
Lieberman risked the usual punishment of ejection from the party caucus when he endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain for president and actively campaigned for him. But with Democrats in a Senate majority of only 51 to 49, they would lose control if Lieberman defected to the Republicans.
I’ve heard competing stories about this, but I haven’t heard that Dems would kick Lieberman out of the caucus altogether. It seems far more likely that Reid would stop by Lieberman’s office and say, “Joe, I’m afraid this committee is too important; I’ve decided to put a Democrat in the chairman’s seat.” If Lieberman threatens to bolt, and Reid has a comfortable majority, the ultimatums probably won’t carry much weight.
But there’s always been one thing I don’t understand about Lieberman’s motivations: why does he want that chairmanship so much? It’s not like he actually tries to do any work with the committee anyway.