Sunday, November 23, 2008

Freedom Rider: Obama and Lieberman: Two of a Kind

November 22nd, 2008

The Greanville Journal

By BLACK AGENDA REPORT (BAR) editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley


Why did Barack Obama save Joe Lieberman from being stripped of his top committee chairmanship? The short answer is, the two men “are equally cynical.” The most rightwing Democrat in the Senate actively campaigned for McCain/Palin, “believes in America’s war of terror, and in the ‘special relationship’ with Israel.” But Lieberman, with his vast financial connections, early on helped Obama “amass the biggest campaign treasury of all time.” Maybe Lieberman “wanted to make sure that the confident black man didn’t forget who was boss.”

“McCain considered choosing Lieberman as a running mate instead of Sarah Palin.”

Connecticut’s Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman is an unrepentant proponent of United States government terror. He was enthusiastically in favor of the occupation of Iraq, advocating for war even before George W. Bush became president. Lieberman is the most vocal cheer leader for war against Iran, telling shameful lies about that nation in hopes of seeing the United States and Israel carry out a military attack. He is openly contemptuous of the rest of the Democratic Party, literally kissing Bush on the lips at the 2006 State of the Union address.

Whatever else may be said about him, Lieberman is not stupid. When he embarked on his plan to endorse John McCain, and disparage Barack Obama, his party’s nominee, he did so believing that he would not pay a price for his actions. So great was Lieberman’s confidence in his untouchability, that McCain considered choosing him as a running mate instead of Sarah Palin.

Despite giving aid and comfort to the Republican party, Lieberman will remain a member of the Democrat Senate caucus that doesn’t even need his votes any more. There will be at least 57 Democratic Senators, more than enough to move any agenda that its members are willing to support. Barack Obama, now de facto party chief, gave the signal that Lieberman be spared the punishment he deserves.

Not only would Democrats be right to toss Lieberman out of their caucus, but his position as Chairman of the Homeland Security committee should also come to an end. The neo-con Democrat hung on to his seat in 2006 after losing a primary and running as an independent. He emerged victorious only because he lied to Connecticut’s voters. He lied about wanting to end the Iraq occupation and he lied when he said he would investigate Bush administration handling of the response to hurricane Katrina.

Lieberman wasted no time in returning to form after he won re-election. He declared that investigating Katrina would be “a waste of Congress’ time.” When even Republicans ran from openly pro-war stances, Lieberman insisted that victory in Iraq was just around the corner. Like any wrong doer who goes unpunished, Lieberman’s behavior grew more brazen over time. He endorsed John McCain and spoke on his behalf at the republican convention.

“Lieberman’s behavior grew more brazen over time.”

Obama’s victory should have been the nail in Lieberman’s coffin. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has the authority to immediately strip Lieberman of his committee chairmanship. Instead of doing what he has the power to do on his own, he told an outright lie, “Joe Lieberman is not some right-wing nutcase, Joe Lieberman is one of the most progressive people ever to come from the state of Connecticut.” After saying those words with a straight face, he punted to the rest of the Democrats in the Senate.

A secret ballot vote will determine Lieberman’s fate as the Homeland Security Chairman. Only two Democrats, Vermonters Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, have publicly stated that they will vote to oust Lieberman. The few who will speak publicly are all suffering from weak spine disease. They concede that Joe did the party wrong, but are unwilling to act against him. If Reid will not do the right thing, his colleagues are unlikely to as well.

It is amusing to watch “progressives” express shock and horror at the sight of Lieberman’s victory over Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats. They rant and rail against the perfidy of their leaders and wonder why Obama lets Lieberman off the hook so easily.

As always, the explanation for seemingly irrational behavior is quite obvious. Lieberman’s supporters have the deepest pockets of all Democratic party supporters. Simply put, there is money behind Lieberman, lots of money.

Barack Obama knows this better than anyone. When he entered the Senate as a freshman in 2005 he chose Joseph Lieberman as his mentor. The following year Obama endorsed Lieberman when he faced his primary challenge. It seemed incongruous for a politician thought of as a progressive to support the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.

“There is money behind Lieberman, lots of money.”

How better to make the case with wealthy Democratic neo-cons than to cozy up to Holy Joe? Anyone serious about becoming president must have their support and the Lieberman stamp of approval surely gave Obama entre to sources of funding he would not have had otherwise.

The two men are equally cynical. Obama got over any hurt feelings he may have had when he remembered how Lieberman helped him amass the biggest campaign treasury of all time. If he acts against him now, he risks the wrath of the same check bundlers he, Reid and the rest of the party still need.

Lieberman’s motives are simple. He believes in America’s war of terror, and in the “special relationship” with Israel. He wanted to make sure that the confident black man didn’t forget who was boss. If McCain won, Lieberman would be in the catbird seat. If McCain lost, he was still in the catbird seat with the full knowledge that the Democrats would be afraid to touch him.

No need to ask why Lieberman is still sitting pretty. If Obama won’t touch him, and Reid won’t touch him, then his gambit will likely pay off. Their mutual cynicism got both men what they wanted. They will now live happily ever after.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.


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