On the Rachel Maddow show, Evan Bayh says that Lieberman should keep his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security/Government Affairs Committee, because the Democrats will need him to pass progressive legislation.
And if he doesn’t keep his chairmanship, then he’ll become a Republican.
And if he becomes a Republican, then he’ll vote like a Republican.
Which of course would show that he is totally unprincipled.
So thus there is no reason to think that he will vote to support progressive legislation.
Something doesn’t add up here.
Yes, I suppose that someone’s values are so malleable that they would completely change their political philosophy depending upon their party label. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Lieberman did that. But then he hardly seems like someone who would be a good bet to support progressive legislation.
Now, maybe he is so unprincipled that if he stays in the caucus (which I hope) then he will still be a relatively progressive Democrat on domestic things. But we have to balance that against two things:
1) In order to maintain party discipline, you have to be able to credibly threaten consequences. If someone from your party says that your candidate is unpatriotic, and that it is “a good question” as to whether he is a Marxist, and you welcome him back with open arms, that does not provide very good incentives. You don’t have to be Tom Delay about it. If Lieberman had just supported McCain, and said great things about McCain, then I could see it. But this goes too far because it gives your people license to undermine you and play into a right-wing framing.
2) Lieberman has been a lousy Homeland Security/Government Affairs Committee chair. That’s not just because he never investigated the Bush Administration, as Waxman did on the House side. It’s because he never did any of the oversight work to make sure that the Homeland Security Department did its job. Do yourself a favor and read Edward Alden’s superb book on homeland security since 9/11: the Department has now become focused on immigration enforcement at the expense of tracking terrorists. And it has undermined our economy in the process, by making it so difficult for high-skilled foreigners to get visas that we are losing potentially valuable resources and outsourcing jobs in the process. And through it all, Joe Lieberman has done nothing.
Those are very powerful considerations. And they are not addressed at all by Bayh.