Wednesday :: Nov 12, 2008

Bring Your Enemies Closer


by Deacon Blues

I'd like to thank Mary, Steve, Paradox, and the other editors for the chance to post here at TLC. I'm looking forward to becoming part of the team here, and hope to share the load. And yes, Steely Dan may be a topic from time to time.

Let me weigh in with a short initial post on something that seems to be a matter of great angst within the center-left blog community: Joe Lieberman. A truce appears to be forming between Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Lieberman due to political necessity. Obama needs as close to 60 votes as he can get, and he knows that on 70-80% of the Democratic agenda, he can count on Lieberman's support. More importantly, and less said, he also knows he needs to avoid the same derailments that afflicted Clinton at the beginning of his term, on issues that are really small-ball, within-the-Beltway landmines planted by the opposition and opportunistic political hacks.

I don't see Obama spending a great deal of political capital on Capitol Hill matters, even though the Democratic caucus and his own team would really rather send Lieberman into a Connecticut landfill. Obama would be wise to spend the majority of his time in early 2009 on the economy, energy independence, and a bipartisan foreign policy. Getting in the middle of a major payback effort against Lieberman only pleases the GOP and brings about unnecessary drama that would make Obama seem like just another politician.

As Evan Bayh said tonight on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show, the Democratic caucus can pull Lieberman's committee chairmanship anytime it wants to if Joe doesn't play ball from his chairmanship of his committee. Lieberman himself knows he is nothing more than a 2-3 seat additional Democratic pickup in 2010 from becoming irrelevant for the remainder of his days.

There will be plenty of chances for Obama to get things done across the aisle in early 2009 to neuter those in the opposition aiming to sap his political capital. For example, Obama should immediately reach out to McCain and revive the McCain/Kennedy immigration reform bill and push this through the Congress while Kennedy is still alive, well before the 2010 midterms.

Why not reach out to Lieberman, McCain, Boxer, and Feinstein and see if they can cobble together a meaningful global warming bill built upon their collective work and interest in the subject, going back a decade?

Why not reach out to McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the JAG community to fix the military tribunal and torture mess left behind by Bush?

I'm sure Arlen Specter would welcome a chance to undo the assault upon the Constitution by this administration.

Why not let Max Baucus seek out bipartisan support for a significant health care reform bill in early 2009?

As for the Cabinet, I see no reason to keep around Bob Gates at Defense when someone like Chuck Hagel can come in now with bipartisan support (and cover) as a fresh face.

The point is to cement into place a bipartisan coalition on as many issues as possible so that a functioning GOP center is invested in working with the new administration towards success, marginalizing their far-right peers in the GOP caucus. Lieberman should be part of that effort. He'll be a man without a country soon enough.

Deacon Blues :: 8:44 PM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!