Scenario

If the Dems take the Senate by a single seat, Rummy resigns, Bush appoints Lieberman to replace him, and Rell appoints a Republican to replace Lieberman.

1. The Democrats hold the New Jersey Senate seat, and carry Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Virginia, but not Tennessee (or Arizona, which is reportedly in play).

2. Lieberman keeps his commitment to caucus with the Democrats. We organize the Senate, start holding hearings. The White House stonewalls.

3. The Iraq Study Group reports, says Iraq is a mess, mistakes have been made, and a new strategy is needed.

4. Rumsfeld resigns.

5. Bush appoints Lieberman to Defense.

6. Lieberman acknowledges Bush’s bipartisan gesture, accepts “for the good of the country.”

7. Rell appoints a Republican to take Lieberman’s seat.

8. Cheney casts the deciding vote, reorganizing the Senate with the Republicans in the majority.

9. All the Senate Democrats who have endorsed Lamont but are now pulling their punches to avoid annoying Lieberman kick themselves.

10. Karl Rove laughs and laughs and laughs.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

32 thoughts on “Scenario”

  1. How do we know that Bush and Lieberman have not already struck a deal, in which Lieberman delivers CT to Bush in exchange for Sec't of Defense?

  2. > 9. All the Senate Democrats who have
    > endorsed Lamont but are now pulling
    > their punches to avoid annoying
    > Lieberman kick themselves.
    I am with you up to that point. In fact the Dem DC Insiders (aks Kool Kidz) will congratulate themselves for once again recognizing the true enemy: the loonly leftist liberal hippe Kossacks.
    The insiders really only need 36 or so Senate seats to keep themselves comfortable for life. 49, 50, 51 – what is the diff? Might make it harder to suck up K Street cash, but they are comfortable.
    Plus it will give Hillary lots of ammunition for the primaries.
    Cranky

  3. The scenario you lay out is idea. The country sees Lieberman sitting among his true friends – and the Rethugs continue, via the Senate, to be responsible for the messes they have created. Personally, I'm hoping for a tie, which would require Cheney to cast tie-breaking votes repeatedly, thus getting his nasty mug on television.
    Putting the house and Senate in Democratic hands by less than overwhelming margins will do little – since there are so many DINO's – and because the Rethugs have perfected the dark arts.

  4. How about a step where the remaining Dems filibuster Joe's appointment into the ground, leaving his lyin' ass on the unemployment line?

  5. Why would Lieberman, or anyone smart enough to play the game you describe, accept that job in these conditions?

  6. Lieberman has to realize that he has hit his ceiling now. He can fight every six years to eek out another senate win with luck or he can get on the conservative sinecure by taking a Bush administration job (he won't get one from anyone else). About the only thing that could keep that from happening if he really believes the Unity crap and thinks McCain is just dying to nominate him as a VP.

  7. A part of me actually hopes that happens.
    One, I do believe that the Senate in Repubs hands will just continue the debacle, just with more handwringing that slowly but surely tarnishes McCain. Two, the Senate looks likely to trend even more Dem in 2008. Three, the party learns the hard way never to let another Dem pull a Lieberman in a primary. And four, the House is where the action is anyway, so we get the oversight we need.

  8. But what makes you think that, if the vote were 50-49-Joe that he WOULD vote with the Democrats, and even give them a chance to start trouble for the Republicans he is getting so much support from. (Or, for that matter, that he would be confirmed if he tried the stunt you suggest.)
    If he voted for the Republicans, it would be 'political suicide' but he's not planning on running again. If he tried to take the DoD job, and Rell DID appoint a Republican, he'd end his own career, maybe before his term was officially up, and if there are any scandals out there, they'd be found, getting him to resign early.
    No, just expect Joe to vote Democratic if, and only if, his vote doesn't matter.

  9. Secretary of Defense vs. the deciding vote in the Senate. 6 years without having to seek reelection vs. a maximum of 2 years. Campaign finance laws vs. executive rules on accepting gifts. Lieberman is way too selfish to accept this deal.

  10. Add the fact that, if Lieberman commited the backstabbing-whti-a-chainsaw act on the Democratic Senators, their confirmation of his appointment as Sec Def would be a confirmation of their strong desire not to have power. IMHO, that sort of back-stab can't be accepted, by anybody who wishes to have political credibility – not with us, who don't count that much, but with the GOP Senators.

  11. I wish the senate democrats would go nuclear on Lieberman. Announce right now that they'll be stripping him of his seniority and his committee assignments.
    GOP control of the Senate is better that Democratic control at Lieberman's whim. The latter is responsibility without power. The GOP will get to blame the Senate for every screwup, while secretly keeping the Senate Dems on a short leash–at any sign that they're going to seriously inconvenience the Rethugs, Lieberman can threaten to pull the plug.

  12. On October 16, Huffington Post reported that Lieberman "won't say whether he supports the state's Democratic candidate for governor. Lieberman told The Hartfort Courant on Friday that his decision on whether to vote for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell or Democratic New Haven Mayor John DeStefano will remain private."
    He also could not say whether it would be better if the Democrats or the Republicans control the Senate. Does that sound like a man who intends to remain a Democrat?

  13. > IMHO, that sort of back-stab can't
    > be accepted, by anybody who wishes
    > to have political credibility –
    That line was already crossed when the DC insider Dems failed to fully back the /Democratic Party nominee/ for CT Senate in 2006.
    Cranky

  14. Lieberman is way too selfish to accept this deal.
    Exactly right. I can sooner see Lieberman switching parties, just to bask in the glory on Fox.

  15. It seems as though the commenters above feel like the senario above should play out as
    #2: Senators who kicked Lieberman to the curb so that he no longer votes for them must accept Republican control. Rove laughs hysterically.
    Moreover, you can't prevent a democrat pulling what Lieberman did any more than the republicans could prevent someone pulling what Jeffords did five years ago.

  16. It's a non-starter. Here are some amendments to your scenario:
    1a: Connecticut Democrats pick up at least one seat in the State House and retain their existing margin in the Senate, giving them a veto-proof majority in both houses.
    7: Before Lieberman's SecDef confirmation hearings begin, Connecticut Democrats pass a law mandating a special election within 60 days of any Senate vacancy.
    8: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) announces he will seek the Senate seat that Lieberman vacates. Polls show the only viable Republican candidates, ex-Congresspersons Shays, Simmons, and Johnson, trailing by double digits.
    9: Blumenthal cruises to election, and votes to re-reorganize the Senate with a Democratic majority.
    10: Karl Rove weeps in his glass of milk.

  17. Rob: "Lieberman has to realize that he has hit his ceiling now. He can fight every six years to eek out another senate win with luck or he can get on the conservative sinecure by taking a Bush administration job (he won't get one from anyone else). About the only thing that could keep that from happening if he really believes the Unity crap and thinks McCain is just dying to nominate him as a VP."
    I can see Lieberman figuring that handing the Senate over to the GOP for two more years would (a) pay *extremely* well, and (b) put a stick in the eye of a party that he's been betraying on a regular basis already.

  18. > #2: Senators who kicked Lieberman to
    > the curb so that he no longer votes
    > for them must accept Republican control.
    So – primaries have been rendered meaningless? I am supposed to just shut up and contribute money to the Democratic Party Powers That Be(tm)? Senate seats are now sinecures?
    Would have been nice to know those things prior to the beginning of the election season.
    Just as an aside: by his own definition, Mr. Lieberman is no longer a Democrat; he is a member of the Connecticut for Lieberman party.
    Cranky

  19. Cranky – So making a deal with an 3rd party senator Conn voters sent in is a betrayal of the voters? wtf?

  20. Is anyone sure that such a scenario is possible? What exactly are the Senate rules as to when a 're-vote' on organization is possible? I remember this came up when Jeffords switched, but I don't know how it came out.

  21. If Lieberman does that, the pressure to filibuster his ass in the Senate will be overwhelming. I'll lead the charge on it.

  22. Of course, there is that alternative scenario that we could have had:
    (1) The Senate Democrats DON'T pull their punches out of fear of annoying Lieberman.
    (2) Lieberman wins anyway — one of 51 nominal Democrats in the new Senate.
    (3) Lieberman is so insulted by the Dems' attacks on him that he jumps parties for that reason.
    So, you know, it's a judgment call. In fact, several comments Smarmy Joe has dropped in the last couple of weeks strongly suggest that, if he DOES become the man who single-handedly decides control of the Senate, he intends to open a bidding war by both parties to gain his allegiance. Until such time as we radically revise America's election system to allow instant runoffs — and thus elect far more centrists — the nation's legislators will continue to be politically polarized in a way that makes such bizarre situations possible.

  23. Joe's a jerk but he's not stupid or suicidal. Given the trends, I think he organizes as a Dem and stays quiet for a year and gets back on Sunday TV in early 2008.

  24. > Cranky – So making a deal with an
    > 3rd party senator Conn voters sent
    > in is a betrayal of the voters? wtf?
    I am not talking about the voters of Connecticut – I am talking about the Democratic Party. Specifically the incumbents and Washington DC insiders of the Democratic Party.
    I strongly suspect that the reason Lamont went on "vacation" the week after the primary is that certain insiders promised him they would engineer a face-saving, Marcos-style retirement for Joe if Lamont agreed not to savage him. And that not only did they not accomplish this, but Lieberman persuaded many of the key insiders to back him despite that fact that he was no longer the Democratic candidate (and in fact not even a Democrat as noted above).
    Look – I didn't much like John Kerry. But when he was nominated I swallowed my dislike, handed over cash, worked for his campaign, and even put on a good salesman's face to go door-to-door and persuade my Republican neighbors that Kerry was the best choice. I didn't like it, but he WAS the Democratic nominee and I felt that the Democratic nominee was the best choice for the nations. So I did it.
    Now we learn that the primaries don't mean anything, and that the Dem insiders will back whomever they wish regardless of the largest turnout in CT Democratic Primary history.
    I understand that Hillary Clinton is the favorite among the Dem and DC elite for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination. I don't much like Hillary Clinton. Should she be nominated, do you expect me to donate money to her campaign? Work for her? Go door-to-door for her? Why? Isn't it a matter of "fooled me once"?
    Cranky

  25. It may not matter. There are already reports — only anecdotal so far except in Florida — that voting machines are 'flipping' votes from McCaskill to Talent and in other cases — Texas, Arkansas, Florida — also tipping votes from Libertarian or Democrat to Republican. And once again, San Diego County has sent Diebold machines home with volunteer poll workers, leaving them open to all sorts of hackery.
    I have so far tried not to be paranoid about this, but I am getting VERY scared. This is perhaps the most important issue right now, because there is a chance for voter fraud on a scale inconceivable in a 'developed Democracy.' A lot of races are very close out there, and I am hoping that everybody is watching this. (I am getting the feeling that Florida 2000 will be minor compared to the chaos this one is heading for, that either it will take demonstrations or a new election to find out who actually won this year.)
    Please, please, where possible, if you have a Diebold or other EVM, vote by paper ballot, and have poll watchers and reporters watching out for this. And if you are approached by an exit-poller, answer him, this is the way other elections in foreign countries have been over-turned.
    I hope I am just over-tired and more scared than usual. It really 'can't happen here,' can it?

  26. Prup, if there's manipulation of the electronic voting machines, there aren't going to be reports of it. That's the whole point, that there's no way to observe whether the vote being recorded is the one intended. Any changed vote isn't going to show up on the screen.

  27. Prup —
    I don't know; what percentage of reporters are voting for democrats (and seeing difficulties voting for them) versus republicans (and seeing difficulties voting for them)? The one that I knew of in 2004 was found in early voting in Texas — there was an unhandled case in software that if you voted 'party line' so you didn't pick individual races AND skipped the amendment on the bottom of the ballot, it messed up the first selection on the ballot, but that was cleared up before election day. The other one that I heard about in '04 was that one district in New York? only allowed registered Democrats to use the electronic machine; registered Republicans were given paper ballots. What Cranky said on a previous post about making the software open-source is a fine idea, but there are a so many different districts and cases it would be a HUGE undertaking to try to review all of it.
    Seriously people, on that post about requiring human-readable output where I suggested optical scan ballots, the reason I suggest them is that I have yet to hear someone claim that the pen doesn't mark the paper for their candidate (it's not an X, it's a "complete the arrow" draw a line with a black felt-tipped pen. The only person I've ever seen needing help was a lady in a wheelchair who needed someone to carry her ballot to the low wheelchair-accessible voting area and then feed it into the slot). Personal opinion is that we really need something like that. And a better way of keeping voter rolls current (much less possibility of fraud), but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

  28. George Will is also predicting potential disaster from the current use of electronic voting machines. (He pooh-poohs — without trying to provide any evidence — the idea of deliberate sabotage, but describes a swarm of accidental breakdowns in the damn things, and demands a paper receipt for each voter, exactly as we should have in any case.)
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

  29. I expect a hanful of Republican Senators – those that were friendly with Chaffee – to become much more important in such a sistuation. I do not think its patently clear that such a situation would mean a Republican senate.

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