Obama the Merciful Extends Olive Branch to Joe Lieberman

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"Rise, Army of Anubis!" (Sorry, what is WITH us today?)
"Rise, Army of Anubis!" (Sorry, what is WITH us today?) Photo: Getty Images

After Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed John McCain, followed him around the campaign trail like his slightly younger Semitic doppelgänger, and even spoke at the Republican National Convention, one might expect that Barack Obama, now the most powerful person in the universe, would banish the Connecticut turncoat to some barren corner of the earth to live out his remaining years in sorrow. But no! As the Huffington Post reported yesterday, Obama, true to his message of unity and reconciliation, "has informed party officials that he wants Joe Lieberman to continue caucusing with the Democrats in the 111th Congress." Of course, the decision really lies with Majority Leader Harry Reid, who's been in talks with Lieberman about his future as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, a position Lieberman expects to retain if he's to remain with the Democratic Party. So what does Obama's gesture mean, and what should become of old Joe and his cherished chairmanship?

• Greg Sargent reports that Obama "will not take any position on the question of whether Lieberman should be permitted to keep his plum chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee," which "is all but certain to take the steam out of any efforts to dislodge Lieberman from the committee." [Election Central/Talking Points Memo]

• Michael Tomasky believes that "Reid has little choice but to bounce Lieberman from his committee chair," but "he needs to keep him in the fold, too, if it's possible." If Democrats win all three of their still-contested Senate races, Lieberman could "become that precious 60th senator." Of course, Republicans have nothing to offer Lieberman, and Connecticut probably won't be overjoyed at having a Republican senator, and may even try to recall him. [Guardian UK]

• Joe Klein would "love to see Lieberman gone from Armed Services," where he's been "truly obnoxious." But good for Obama, and us, for sending "conciliatory signals." [Swampland/Time]

• Matthew Yglesias doesn't quite understand the leverage that Lieberman thinks he has. Is he implying "that continuing to hold" his "moderately progressive domestic views," including his pro-choice position, "is contingent on him getting favors from the Democratic leadership"? If not, "then he ought to be asking for forgiveness, not 'keeping all his options open.'" [Think Progress]

• Adam Serwer says Lieberman should be removed from his Homeland Security chairmanship — not for campaigning for McCain, but for being "an anti-Muslim bigot who believes the United States is being subverted by Muslims from within." [Tapped/American Prospect]

• Josh Marshall reports that Bill Clinton is "making calls on Sen. Lieberman's behalf." He also speculates that Obama is "agnostic" on the question of whether to punish Lieberman in some way. But calling for him to stay in the caucus "would seem to give Lieberman some real leverage." [Talking Points Memo]

• Ben Smith writes that Hillary Clinton likely "won't be leading the pitchforks-and-torches crowd against Lieberman, despite a chilly relationship with [the] Connecticut independent." [Politico]

• Markos Moulitsas says the "logic is pretty obvious — it allows Obama to look like he's not vindictive." The Democrats could still take Lieberman's Homeland Security chairmanship and offer him a different one. Lieberman claims "he'll bolt, but he's bluffing. He's still got 2012 to think about." And if he does, "it won't be because Democrats pushed him out." [Daily Kos]

• Glenn Greenwald says that "whatever the outcome here is, it's vital that it be the Senate's decision, not Barack Obama's." While it makes sense to cooperate with Obama, "if the Senate has any sense of its own institutional integrity ... the last thing Senators would be doing is allowing Obama to interfere with, let alone dictate to them, how they proceed in deciding what to do about Lieberman." [Salon]