Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Its All Theoretical Until Someone Gets a Potch in the Eye

This might be my last word on the subject, though others might need to go over it a few times more with a lawn mower and a can of gasoline. Where you stand on Lieberman is determined by where you stand on the question of what was wrong with the country under Bush. If you think that the main problem with the country was that there was too much partisanship on the democratic side, or too much partisanship tout court, then you might feel that "this is the change Obama promised us." If you think that the problem was that a far right, agressive, thoughtless, war mongering, capitalist tool ran the country into the ground on nearly theological principles with the aid of the blue dog dems and Lieberman (you can write your own adjectives to describe them) then you think that rewarding Lieberman with a very high and important position is a mistake of drastic proportions. More... In Jane Hamsher's talk with Governor Dean, g-d bless him and keep him all his days, he reveals that this simply hadn't even occured to him as an issue. Somehow, a framing device and a set of facts that the bloggosphere has seen as central to the discussion utterly dropped off the radar when it came to Senate discussion. For whatever reason. One set of Senators, no doubt, is a set of time serving chicken shits but the rest for all we know may be as clueless as Governor Dean turns out to be about what the job of Homeland Security Chair was supposed to be. I find it hard to believe but there you go. I don't go as far as some in the bloggosphere and consider my work in the past for President Elect Obama, or all the work I intend to keep doing as wasted. Far from it. When its the only game in town you might as well save your pennies and pay to get in like all the other suckers. But lets be clear about this--keeping Joe Lieberman in position, failing to make him pay any kind of price for his obstructionism and disloyalty, either signals one or both of two things: it either signals, and this is a respectable viewpoint, that the Obama people and the Senate are not serious about change on all the issues that Homeland Security Chair handles or it signals that they have failed to grasp what a dangerous foe Lieberman is of progress and change in the direction they are proposing to take the country. As some said in the thread below, mark this day because if Lieberman runs true to form things are going to get very ugly over the next two years. We are all hoping and praying for eight years of an Obama presidency, a strong majority in both houses for those eight years and a peaceful transition to an even stronger democratic presidency and majority aren't we? Well, we could as easily be fighting for our lives in two years and again in four if we aren't careful. And it was all completely unnecessary. The cemeteries are full of indispensible men--but Lieberman isn't even that. He's not a hard worker, not an honest broker, not a good soldier, not a good democrat, not a loyal friend--he's nothing but a tool of AIPAC and conservative war mongering. Hell, he's even lousy on women's issues in a solidly blue state.

Here's where I differ from the people telling us that it really doesn't matter. I think it does. But conversely I also differ from people who argue that removing Lieberman for the pleasure and benefit of those paying attention, the netroots or the activists or whoever, would have been unnecessary or even counterproductive. As far as I can tell if the Senators had chosen to defenestrate Lieberman, even over the pro-forma protests of Obama, that would have been the cheapest and easiest pay off ever in political history. We've had this discussion before about why the right wing religious nuts have been so reliable a focus of republican voter outreach. They are the cheapest of cheap dates. If you want the votes of capitalists you have to let them loot the treasury. Their money to you is always a quid pro quo for more money down the line. That can be expensive. But if you want the votes of religious fanatics you can buy them off with a little anti gay rhetoric, the occasional slap at feminists, and even a proposal, soon forgotten, to restore paper copies of the ten commandments to schools. Its an *incredibly* cost effective strategy. So what was the equivalent for the activated progressive base? We've already inured ourselves to whatever compromises Obama has to make on Gitmo, Iraq, health care etc... We're still so dizzy with surprise and gratitude that a mere few minutes looking at our gorgeous new president, his crowds and family is practically enough to keep us happy. But going forward they are going to want our votes, what are they offering us to make us keep feeling good, like what we did made a difference? That could be expensive but it doesn't have to be. We'd be satisfied with something symbolic. Everyone always is. Frankly offering us Lieberman's symbolic castration would have been just the ticket. And the truth is he would never have been missed, procedurally. While the pay off would have been huge if they had cared what the voters thought. When you look at it like that the decision to keep Lieberman at all, and certainly the decision to do it so publicly and without any kind of symbolic humiliation and assurances of good behavior was really predicated on a decision, and a sound one I'm sure, that the voters are stuck and can't ever strike back or express their anger and disgust. How very Liebermanesque of the Senate. We've got nowhere to go, as progressives, but to further support Obama and what he tries to do that we do support. But we will have to rest content, apparently, with being the crazy rich aunt in the attic, dragged out and dressed and primped for company only when the party needs us and locked up in chains and fed crusts between election cycles.