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Howard Dean on Lieberman: “I never looked into what he was doing as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.”

howarddean.jpgUpdate:  A spokesperson for Dean says the calls were not specifically to talk about Lieberman, they just coincided with Reid’s announcement

Update II:  McJoan has more

Howard Dean did a round of calls with bloggers today (including the Huffington Post and Greg Sargent) trying to mollify everyone after it was announced that Joe Lieberman would retain his Homeland Security Chair.

On the call with me were John Aravosis, McJoan and Nate Silver.  Here’s a transcript of my exchange with Dean:

HOWARD DEAN:  What I’m saying here is along comes Lieberman.  He behaved very badly during the campaign and did some things inside the club that are unforgivable.

So what… if you run and get a mandate for reconciliation, is your first act to kick this guy out of the party?  

Well, people of my generation think — yeah, damn right we should.  But in the new spirit of reconciliation, which is why I think Barack Obama got elected by 66% of the under 35 vote, maybe it’s not the way.

I’m very willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the Senators and to Barack Obama on that one.

Do we want to have a big fight about what should happen to Joe Lieberman?  I don’t think so.  I think we want to have a bigfight about whether we’re going to have a decent health insurance program or a renewable energy program or not?

JANE HAMSHER: With all due respect, Governor Dean, we were all just told to go screw ourselves.  That our concern for Barack Obama and that our concern about the war and everything else that we fought so hard for within the Democratic Party is meaningless.

And that Joe being happy, and giving into his threats — and he did threaten the Democrats in his press conference — is more important than we are.  And so I don’t think it was a matter of "reconciliation," I think it was…we were told to go Cheney ourselves.  And I think that that really is the sentiment online.

HOWARD DEAN:  I know, I’m sure they…I haven’t seen the blogs about this because it’s just happened…but I’m sure that the sentiment online is one of outrage.  But I would line up with Barack.  I don’t think you were told to go screw yourselves at all, I think he that has now got to practice what he preaches during two years of campaigs that he wants to bring America together.  

As objectionable as Joe’s behavior was — and frankly unprincipled — I don’t think that this is the thing that should divide us, and I don’t think it’s about his vote for FISA or anything else.  What kind of a tone do we want to set?  Do we want to have a purge as the first thing we do?  I don’t think so.  I mean, I don’t know…

JANE HAMSHER:  But the tone we just set, with all due respect, is that Joe’s lack of oversight on the Homeland Security Committee, and his refusing to investigate Katrina to pay back the Republicans, and his refusal to look into billions and billions of dollars worth of graft and theft is okay for political considerations.  I think that’s the message you’re sending and I don’t think that’s the change people voted for.

HOWARD DEAN:  Well I don’t think that stuff is okay but I have to say I’m not terribly familiar with his record.  But you know I would agree, that’s not the change we voted for, I agree with that.  

JANE HAMSHER:  Governor Dean, Greg Sargent just put up a post saying that you believe that the liberal blogosphere was motivated to take Joe Lieberman’s gavel away because of revenge.  Is that what you think this was?

HOWARD DEAN:  I think some of it was anger over his behavior, certainly I have anger over his behavior.  

JANE  HAMSHER:  But I think the larger issue here is that Joe was not qualified for the gavel they gave him, and has proved himself unqualified over the past two years.  

HOWARD DEAN:  Look I’m not going to a dispute with you over that, because it sounds like you know his record much better than I.  I never looked into what he was doing as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.  I was too busy figuring out how to win the election.  So I don’t want to get into a debate on whether he’s qualified or not.  

JANE HAMSHER:  But do you think that’s something that the Senate should’ve looked at in deciding whether to give him the gavel or not?

HOWARD DEAN:  Well, I hope they did.

Yes, it would have been nice if someone had looked into whether Joe was actually qualified or not to do the job before giving it to him again.

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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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