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Here's a chair, there's the door

Some Gentle Readers will be aware that YHB lives in the Elm State, and thus is represented in the United States Senate by the interesting Chris Dodd and the …even more interesting… Joe Lieberman. OK, he’s an asshole. Not Senator Dodd. The other one. You know, the one that couldn’t win his primary as an incumbent.

Well, and it seems as if my Party has decided to make him chair of the Homeland Security Committee, because he was already there, and it would be a lot of work to put somebody else in charge. Or something. Because he is the best possible person to head up a Senate Committee on Homeland Security. Because he has shown terrific judgment on all those issues. No, wait, he hasn’t shown good judgment. And he’s an asshole.

I know some GRs think of me as a process-obsessed old centrist party hack because I occasionally break into singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” and am all in favor of letting the Senate be the Senate. But seriously, it’s people like me, who call themselves Democrats and want to be part of our Party that should be the most outraged by this. Here I am, trying to convince y’all that there is value to thinking of yourself as part of a Party, as part of a Party that stands for something and has a history and is on the right side of policy questions. And then you get to put that shit-eating grin on your face and ask me is that the party that put Joe Lieberman in charge of Homeland Security and left him there? And I have to admit that yes, it is.

Of course this is obnoxious because after all he is in the Senate because he ran against the Democratic Party and its choice. Then he chose to support the person who ran against the Democratic Party and its choice for President. And in doing so, he not only supported that candidate but other people who were running against Democratic Party candidates for other office. And did so while, as Colin McEnroe puts it, acting like a snake. For all of those reasons, our Party should have repudiated him and taken away his toys purely as a punitive measure.

Aside from the whole election campaign, though, the man has shown shockingly bad judgment on Homeland Security issues for years and years. He has consistently backed terrible laws; he has supported the worst excesses of Our Only President and his secretive cadre of crooks and incompetents; he has shown in the committee, on the floor, on television and on the stump that his ideas about Homeland Security are not just opposed to the Party Platform (which, again, he has repudiated in the context of the campaign) but utterly without merit of any kind. And then on top of that to support John McCain for President on the grounds that his Homeland Security policies and abilities were superior to those of Barack Obama… well, I just can’t imagine defending my Party giving him that chairmanship.

If we were to put him in charge of Labor or the Environment or even Health policy, it would be bad for Party discipline and seem to work against the idea that our Party does stand for anything or take its platform seriously. But it could be defended. Not as a really good choice, but as a practical political matter, claiming that the benefits of perceived magnanimity and bipartisanship outweigh the costs of perceived weakness and lack of principle. After all, it is true that John McCain and Joe Lieberman have between them cornered the market on bipartisanship to the extent that anything the two of them support is bipartisan within the common cultural conversation, and anything the two do not support is partisan, whether either have support from other members of the two parties or for that matter support from anyone else in the country. Let alone whether they might be good policies. It’s astonishing, but it’s true, and we go to govern with the Sunday public affairs television we have, not the Sunday public affairs television we want.

But Homeland Security? The only conceivable way to make this anything but an utter disgrace and disaster would be if President-Elect Obama and Senator Reid have a secret plan to abolish the grotesque mistake that is the Department of Homeland Security altogether, taking its tasks to the appropriate departments of the Cabinet and the appropriate Committees of the Senate, leaving Sen. Lieberman in the Chair of a worthless toothless and newsless void of a Homeland Security Committee, with the utmost personal humiliation involved in the timing and passage of the change.

No, that’s not going to happen. But I can dream, can’t I?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Hm. Perhaps the politics of the Senate would be clearer if the party labels were clearer. It looks to me like the balance of power in the Senate is about as follows:

Party of Evil: 40ish seats
Party of "We're not evil, but you don't actually expect us to exert ourselves to oppose evil or accomplish good, do you? And what is evil, anyway?": 45ish seats
Party of Good: 15ish seats

What a sorry spectacle.

I like your plan.

In the abolishing Homeland Security vein, how about they go back to the department names used by the Founders? The current Department of Defense could go back to being called the Department of War, and Homeland Security (probably with the addition of the Coast Guard and the National Guard) could become the Department of Defense.

So Lieberman would be in charge of the Committee to Nowhere, and we'd get to stop the pretense about our military objectives.

have the democrats no shame? why they even bailed out joe lieberman!

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