The Professional Pol–Part Two

In contrast to McCain, Joe Lieberman’s task is relatively easy, but he still has to play his cards right.

Chris Bowers wonders whether Lieberman will actually caucus with the Dems if wins in November. As much as I agree that a Senate hinging on Lieberman’s choice is a pretty nauseating prospect, I have a hard time believing that Holy Joe will actually jump to the GOP.

Lieberman’s entire political profile rests upon his identity as a Democratic maverick. It’s the reason he gets on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the Sunday talk shows. Without it, he’s just another Senator and failed Presidential aspirant. He can’t go over to the GOP and play the same role; that space is taken by St. John and to a far lesser extent, Chuck Hagel.

Moreover, Lieberman isn’t that old–64, I think. He’s going to want to run again in six years, and he can’t do that as a Republican.

So I suspect that Lieberman will stay with the Dems, keep all of his seniority, and be a completely unreliable vote for Harry Reid, while repeating GOP talking points for the next six years.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

4 thoughts on “The Professional Pol–Part Two”

  1. Sorry, bt I don't see it as being that simple. He certainly has no national aspirations, and I am not so sure he wouldn't be perfectly willing to retire at 70, or believe that the Republicans would make a comeback that would make him electable as a Republican.
    He has, at present, nothing to lose by jumping parties — though I have been meaning to write a suggested editorial for a Connecticut pro-Lamont paper, or the campaign, asking "Does Joe Lieberman have as much integrity as Strom Thurmond?" When Thurmond jumped parties, he was willing to resign and run again as a Republican. Is Joe willing to make a similar pledge, since he has been waffling on whether he will indeed caucus with the Democrats if his seniority is threatened?
    I simply can;'t believe that the Republicans would give him the amount of support they have without an iron-clad agreement that if the break was 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and Joe, that he wouldn't vote with them in organizing the Senate. (After all, it wouldn't be so bad for them to have someone they could portray, inacurately, but when has that stopped them, as a Far-Left Radical in the seat if it was going to be Democratic anyway.)

  2. You're assuming that he wants to stay in the Senate into his late 70s. An alternate possibility is that Bush will offer him a cabinet position, perhaps to replace Rumsfeld, with the guarantee of a cushy job as a senior fellow somewhere, or a lucrative one as a lobbyist, starting in 2009.
    That would allow him to quit the Senate and, of course, be replaced by a Republican nominated by CT's Repub Governor. If he becomes an outright traitor and just starts caucusing with the GOP, I doubt he would finish his term anyway. Surely there would be a mechanism, and plenty of willingness, to recall him.

  3. Ok, that does it.
    Here I was, wrapped up in principle and withholding contributions from the candidates who voted for Bush's detainee legislation.
    But the prospect of Lieberman jerking the Democrtatic party in the Senate by the short hairs is just. too. much.

  4. "…I have a hard time believing that Holy Joe will actually jump to the GOP."
    So far Lieberman has failed to display *any* ethical constraints on his behavior. Why do you think that he'd start now? Keeping the Senate GOP, with a GOP president, could offer rich rewards.

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