Joe Lieberman of the ID Party:
Mr. Lieberman received a standing ovation at a caucus luncheon after Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who is poised to become the majority leader, declared, â€œWeâ€™re all family.â€
All of which is particularly touching in light of recent history. It was, after all, just three months ago that Mr. Lieberman became something of a party pariah after losing the Democratic primary in Connecticut but continuing his re-election bid as an independent.
Mr. Lieberman won re-election last week without help from most of his Democratic Senate colleagues, who backed Ned Lamont, his Democratic rival, over their â€œgood friend Joe Lieberman.â€
These would be many of the same good friends â€œwho were happy to leave my dad by the side of the road,â€ as Mr. Liebermanâ€™s son, Matthew, put it in an election night speech. These, presumably, would include â€œfriendsâ€ like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, all Lamont supporters.
â€œItâ€™s clear that the Democrats need him at this point more than he needs them,â€ said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, whom Mr. Lieberman genuinely does consider a close friend. â€œHow sweet is this?â€
Indeed, it is hard to imagine how Mr. Lieberman could have emerged better from last weekâ€™s election. He was re-elected comfortably, and the Democratic Party he still belongs to is now in the majority, assuring him the chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee.
Yet that majority is slim enough, 51 to 49, to turn Mr. Lieberman into arguably the Senateâ€™s most influential member. If he defects, the Senate would effectively be under Republican control because Vice President Dick Cheney would cast tie-breaking votes.
â€œIt was very painful to him to have all these people he thought were his friends embrace his opponent,â€ Ms. Collins said. â€œThey just threw him overboard. But now, not only is he re-elected resoundingly, but he is also the key to which party controls the Senate.â€
Mr. Liebermanâ€™s situation underscores the precarious calculus of political friendships. People close to him say he remains miffed, if not bitter, about what he considers the betrayal of allies who supported an unknown, untested and unfamiliar candidate.
That would be the candidate that beat him in his own party’s primary, but never mind that, because this is just more evidence that the only person that Joe loves more than Joe is still Joe, and now he is coming to terms with the fact that this is the best it is ever going to get for him (unless David Broder’s Mystical Magical Unicorn Huggypie Party is found under a leaf in the cabbage patch that was once his brain). So Joe is all set to play “important statesman” and the rest of the Democrats are going to have to grit their teeth and pretend that they like him and that he is a swell guy, and the weekend bobbleheads are going to gobble him up every week because he’s their kind of Democrat, and by “their kind of Democrat” I mean: a Republican.
Hard to believe that he could become more loathsome, but there you have it…