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What the Hell, Harry?


Considering that Holy Joe is now openly campaigning with Republicans (notably GOP House candidate Rob Simmons, with whom he shares Rick Santorum’s pollster) and spitting in the face of the DCCC’s efforts (we presume) to take the House in November, and Tony Blankley was on Hardball last night openly speculating that Lieberman might caucus with the GOP if he wins,  isn’t it time to start seriously stripping him of his committee assignments?

It’s rather difficult right now to figure out just what, exactly, is going on.  According to the Journal-Inquirer:

The Hill reported that Lieberman had rankled his colleagues by suggesting that those who supported bringing troops home from Iraq by a deadline would bolster terrorists’ planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies and by intimating that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed senior aides to the unidentified senators, said they suggested Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority in the Democratic caucus should he defeat Lamont in the general election.

Lieberman told the Associated Press the day after The Hill’s story was published that he had spoken with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and that Reid had assured him he would retain his positions within the party caucus should he win in November.

Reid had called him after the primary, Lieberman said, and pledged that if he got re-elected "nothing is going to change."

Nevertheless, Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley, subsequently told the news service that "those types of decisions" wouldn’t be made until after the general election.

Lieberman’s campaign spokesman, Dan Gerstein, insisted today that Reid had "left no doubt" in Lieberman’s mind "that his seniority was not going to be at risk."

"This is a lot of hyperactive staffers who are trying to cater to the bloggers," he said, referring to the Internet writers who generally have supported Lamont over Lieberman.

Gerstein added that the ruckus was "just typical partisan politics" and that people Lieberman had met while campaigning were "not really interested."

But he also suggested that stripping Lieberman of his seniority would be "one of the dumbest things the Democratic caucus could do.

"The point is, the one thing they can’t take away from Joe is his experience and his influence, and that’s not just based on committee assignments, but on his credibility and ability to work across party lines to get things done for the state," he said.

Earlier in the year, Pach interviewed Chuck Schumer of the Incumbency Protection Racket DSCC who made it clear that what really mattered was Lieberman’s willingness to vote for Harry Reid as Senate leader.  Is that the game we’re playing here?  Because Ned Lamont would, of course, vote for Harry Reid; is it all about making sure that Reid’s got a lock on that Connecticut vote?

Stripping Lieberman of his seniority would be a serious blow, one that could limit the damage he can and will do to the three much-needed House seats.  It also has the potential to knock Joe out of the race.  Is it worth the cost of three House seats and the risk that Joe might switch parties to "play it safe?"  That’s an awfully high price for — well, for what, exactly? 

And might I remind anyone who has troubled themselves to forget — Lieberman has already punk’d Reid once before when he promised he wouldn’t leave the party.  Does he really believe Joe won’t plant one in his back to help his GOP buddies if it suits his purposes to do so? 

Because I really just do not find that much of a stretch. 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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