Joe Lieberman Can Still Sit in His Favorite Chair

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Marbury, smiling that $21.9 million smile. Photo: Getty Images

The Democratic Senate caucus gathered this morning to finally decide the fate of Joe Lieberman and his beloved chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee. It's the position he prizes above all else — he had told Harry Reid that losing it would be "unacceptable." And so the Democrats, feeling mighty beneficent as they bask in the glow of Barack Obama's victory, decided to let him keep it. But these Democrats are no wimps. This ain't the Mommy party anymore, no way. There must be repercussions. So as punishment for campaigning on behalf of John McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention, musing that it's a "good question" whether Obama is a Marxist, and saying that Obama hasn't always "put the country first," the Democrats ruthlessly stripped away Lieberman's seat on the less prominent Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection subcommittee. Ouch?

• Steve Benen wants us to "cut the nonsense" and not pretend that "giving into Lieberman's leverage-less demands" and letting him keep his chairmanship was any kind of rebuke. [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Markos Moulitsas asks "what idiot would think that taking away a subcommittee from Lieberman would be seen as a 'stinging rebuke,'" as Roll Call put it? "The only thing that matters" is the Homeland Security Committee. "No one gives a shit about" the subcommittee. [Daily Kos]

• Chris Cillizza credits Lieberman's surprising success in holding onto his chairmanship to "personal loyalties" of the "old guard" in the Senate, where he's served since 1988. But the decision could be "the first rift in what had been a harmonious convergence of Democrats (thanks to George W. Bush) over the last two years," and the left may be "far less willing to go along and get along with President-elect Barack Obama's agenda." [Fix/WP]

• Greg Sargent says it "remains to be seen" whether stripping Lieberman of his subcommittee chair "will be seen as 'significant' by people who think that Lieberman's actions show him to be completely out of sync with the values and ideas of the Democratic Party." [TPM Election Central]

• James Oliphant and Janet Hook write that "[s]ometime between the heat of the presidential campaign and now, the passion for retribution cooled dramatically," and some of that cooling is a result of senators following the lead of Barack Obama. [LAT]

• Chuck Todd and friends agree that Obama's magnanimity was a big factor in the change of heart. The reasoning goes, "If the wrath was directed at Obama and [he] got over it, shouldn't the Democratic caucus do the same?" Of course, being "mainly responsible for the wrist slap" on Lieberman "is really going to test Obama’s base." However, one way to look at it is that not punishing Lieberman is the type of change — an end to "bitter partisanship" — that Obama promised. [First Read/MSNBC]

• Likewise, Jay Newton-Small says the result is really no surprise considering Obama's "promise of change from DC's bitter partisan ways." [Swampland/Time]

• Glenn Greenwald disagrees that the "bipartisanship" of the move would constitute change: "[T]he last eight years have been defined, more than anything else, by overarching bipartisan cooperation and consensus," as demonstrated by Democratic support of the Patriot Act, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity," the bailout, and more. Rewarding Lieberman is therefore "perfectly consistent with — not a departure from — how Washington works." [Salon]

• Tim Fernholz believes what Lieberman "did during the campaign was shameful" and he "should lose his position and basically be ostracized by his colleagues." But he notes that the importance of "passing progressive legislation," which will require every senator the Democrats can muster, should take precedent over vengeance. And when 2012 rolls around, the Democrats should fund a primary challenger to take Lieberman's seat. [Tapped/American Prospect]

• Jennifer Rubin thinks it would have been "irrational" to "shove Sen. Joe Lieberman into the arms of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans." [Contentions/Commentary]