Those Lieberman headlines

Monday, November 13, 2006 at 03:30 PM

You've probably seen them, like this one at NewsMax: Lieberman Won't Rule Out GOP Change

NewsMax even gets an accurate quote into the early part of the story (the part people are likely to actually read):

Appearing Sunday on "Meet the Press," Lieberman told moderator Tim Russert bluntly that he won't rule out caucusing with the GOP, if circumstances warranted the move.

Man, sounds like Joe is seriously thinking about this switching thing, doesn't it?  Not if you actually saw the show, or bothered to read deeper into the transcript, where it is evident that Lieberman has no intention of switching parties.

MR. RUSSERT: The Economist magazine, here is the headline. "Stuck with Joe: Suddenly the most influential man in the Senate." And what that refers to, senator, as you well know, the Senate is now 51 Democrats and independents; 49 Republicans. If you caucused with the Republicans rather then the Democrats, the Republicans would be in charge of the Senate.


MR. RUSSERT: You will caucus with the Democrats?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I will caucus with the Democrats. I said that to my constituents throughout. I'm going to caucus with the Democrats both because it's good for my constituents in Connecticut, because I retained my seniority, I become a committee chair, but also I want to continue to work to bring the party back to its historic traditions of, of strength on national security, foreign policy and innovation, and progress in domestic policy--the, the Harry Truman/John F. Kennedy Democrat that, that I was raised to be.

So what happened?  Tim Russert happened.  He seems to think that pressing mercilessly on some small, frequently irrelevant point is a virtue in itself.  Sure you plan on being a Democrat, but isn't there something, isn't there anything at all that could make you switch?

Who the hell could honestly say that no hypothetical, theoretical, extremely unlikely thing will never happen?  Not Lieberman.  Not me.  Not you. So that's what happened in Russert's followup:

MR. RUSSERT: If you look at the exit polls for Connecticut in your race, it's quite interesting. Here they are: Republicans--70 percent of Republicans voted for Lieberman; 8 percent voted for Democrat Ned Lamont and 21 percent voted for the Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger. Democrats: you got 33 percent. Lamont got 65 percent, Schlesinger--two out of three Democrats in Connecticut voted against Joe Lieberman.


MR. RUSSERT: And yet you're caucusing as a Democrat.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, it's, it's for the reasons that I've--that I've stated. But it also explains why I consider myself to be an Independent Democrat, and why I said to my constituents on Election Day in Connecticut, "I am going to Washington beholding to no political group except the people of Connecticut and of course my conscience." If you look at the vote, and this is another reason why, why I'm an Indepen--why I say I'm an Independent Democrat, a majority of my votes came from independent and Republican voters in Connecticut. But of course I couldn't have won without that Democratic support, either, and I--I'm glad we held a third of it. In the primary we almost got 50 percent. But I wasn't the Democratic candidate this November.

MR. RUSSERT: And yet when you go back to the Senate, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd--your fellow senator from Connecticut, did a commercial for your opponent--all of them campaigned or gave money. Is it going to be awkward for you?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Oh, it may be a little awkward, but look, they, they did--they played by the traditional partisan political playbook. And I can't say I enjoyed it, but we're all grownups, we've got a job to do, and I'm going to do my best to get that job done. But of course I'm going to continue to do what I've always done, and even more so, which is to work across party lines with my colleagues to get things done for my state and country. To me, that is my singular mission. And I'll work with anybody I agree on. I'm not going to--agree with on a matter. I'm not going to look at party labels, I'm going to look at, at what can we get done for our country and my state.

MR. RUSSERT: If in fact they ask for discipline in the Democratic caucus, and you start to feel uncomfortable with it, would you consider crossing across the--going across the aisle, and joining the Republicans, if they gave you the same chairmanship that you had, and respected your seniority?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, that's a hypothetical, which I'm, I'm not going to deal with here. I'm going to be an optimist, and take some encouragement from the fact that this was an election in which, in the House and Senate, Democrats came to the majority of both chambers by electing moderates mostly. This was an election that might be called the return of the center of American politics. And I think that my colleagues and leaders in the Democratic caucus get that. The fact is that this was not a major realignment election in my opinion. This was the voters in Connecticut and elsewhere saying, "We, we, we're, we, we're disappointed with the Republicans. We want to give the Democrats a chance." But I believe that the American people are considering both major political parties to be in a kind of probation, because they're, they're understandably angry that Washington is dominated too much by partisan political games, and not enough by problem solving and patriotism, which means put the country and your state first.

MR. RUSSERT: Jim Jeffords of Vermont crossed over and joined the Democrats.


MR. RUSSERT: And they gave--they gave him his committee chairmanship.


MR. RUSSERT: You're, you're not ruling that out at some future time?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I'm not ruling it out, but I hope I don't get to that point. And, and I must say, and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut, nobody ever said, "We're doing this because we, we want you to switch over. We want you to do what we think--what you think is right, and good for our state and country," and I appreciate that.

My God, talk about your sensational admission, on national t.v.!!

If only people got to vote on journalists the way they do on politicians.  Is there anyone out there who couldn't have come up with a more meaningful set of questions for Joe Lieberman than the ones Russert used to waste that segment?  Journalism in America will remain an object of derision so long as it covers only the politics aspect of life, totally excluding any discussion of the subatnce of the issues that mean life and death for millions.

For what it's worth, although I'm not a real fan of Lieberman, I'm also not a fan of really rich guys trying to buy seats in congress, as Lamont seemed to be doing.  I shed no tears that all the attempts to buy seats of which I am aware failed, including here in Vermont, where the rich Rich Tarrant tried to smear Bernie Sanders and distort the hell out of Sanders's record ("Why does Bernie like child redators?," for example), only to lose by some 30 points despite getting the rather bizarre endorsement of Vermont's only large, statewide newspaper.