discuss Holy Joe Lieberman’s long-term future.
I love this scene: the gunsel holding two massive guns is the actually the least powerful one in the room, while the smart, fast-on-his-feet Sam Spade effortlessly exercises real power even while surrounded by mortal enemies, because he understands exactly how the real world works.
Which is why when I read something like this --
Obama Supports Keeping Lieberman in Democratic Caucus-- I shake my head and smile.
By Paul Kane
President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed keeping Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the Democratic caucus, suggesting to leadership that the two sides reach a compromise in the conflict over the former Democratic vice presidential nominee's future, sources said today.
In a phone conversation last week with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Obama said that expulsion of Lieberman for his support of the Republican presidential ticket would send the wrong signal after Obama's promises to set partisanship aside, according to a Senate Democratic aide familiar with the conversation.
Aides to Obama and Reid declined comment on the specifics of the conversation between the two party leaders. Obama's camp insisted the president-elect did not make any specific suggestions about how to resolve the situation, but did say that Obama wants Lieberman to remain with the Democrats.
"President-elect Obama looks forward to working with anyone to move the country forward," Obama transition spokesperson Stephanie Cutter said in a statement issued today. "We'd be happy to have Sen. Lieberman caucus with the Democrats. We don't hold any grudges."
Of course I believe
Lieberman Must Go.
But I also know, as Hunter S. Thompson once said, "Politics is the art of controlling your environment" and to this Chicagoan’s eyes, it sure looks like my President Elect is getting ready extend his control over his environment by gelding The Last Honest Man and fitting him with a collar.
Shorn of the sound and fury, the fact is Lieberman will be in the Senate for four more years (Thanks again, Connecticut!), and during the next two of those years the Senate is going to be Wingnut Central Command.
Right now, Joe is a joke, a disgrace and a failure. But he also has no conscience, an ego the size of Mount Sinai, no capacity for self-reflection, and has been drunk on his own ersatz piety since forever. And after 2-3 months angrily rebreathing his own sanctimony farts, I can easily imagine the corrupt Connecticut Manqué in King Dubya’s Court -- now a Joementum in Exile -- completely convincing himself that he needs to lead the charge against anything and everything the Marxist, Hamas-loving Obama Administration puts forward.
For the good of the country, of course.
And the children.
Before a President is sworn in, his influence is necessarily indirect. His available political capital can rise or fall only by proxy; by whom he appoints, whom he exiles, by the issues on which he stands firm, and on which he stands mute.
In Big Time Politics, every move has a price and a value, and the winners know how to buy low and sell high. And while driving Holy Joe into the political wilderness would certainly slake some of my thirst for righteous fucking payback, I also recognize it’s a poor bargain. It would perhaps gain the President Elect the further admiration of people who are already with him, but it wouldn't increase his stock of political capital one dime, and would come at the cost of potentially turning a derelict into a fanatic and creating an enemy who will be the tip of the spear used to poke him in the eye for the next two years.
It is also be a definitive act, one that can’t be undone and would necessarily foreclose the possibility that Joe Lieberman’s political carcass would be available as a flotation device in the future.
On the other hand, keeping Lieberman inside the tent and on double-secret probation opens up the possibility of running a subtler, reverse-Sister Souljah bit of jujitsu: in a move that would cost him essentially nothing, President Elect Obama would get to show the world his maverick independence from the Dirty Fucking Hippies, and while he demonstrated public magnanimity, he can also privately put Lieberman’s balls in a vice for the rest of his term.
If Lieberman shuts the fuck up, geeks on command and shits Tiffany cuff links, it's a win.
If Lieberman sets one foot off the reservation, the Obama crew can quietly make things so fucking awful that he bolts the Party, at which point the Party has its fall guy, and President Obama's Press Secretary can announce in his or her best more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice that although the President gave Holy Joe every chance to redeem himself for his many, many betrayals, it is obvious now that Joe is incorrigibly bent and can never be trusted.
We in Chicago remember another smart, articulate, Progressive African-American leader. One who defied the predestinational impulses of the City Machine Political Womb from whence he came, rose to power on the promise of reform during very turbulent times, only to have his legs cut out from under him during much of his first term by a united front of proudly intransigent, racist thugs.
The chief executive was
Mayor Harold Washington.
The opposition was the led by Ed Burke and the recently-convicted
“Fast” Eddie Vrdolyak.
And the period – from 1983 to 1986 – was known as Council Wars:
Exactly the same elements -- an intractable opposition who believe blocking every fucking thing proposed by the Progressive African-American executive will accrue to their narrow, political advantage -- are now in play in the nation’s capitol, and some version of “Council Wars” on FoxNews and Hate Radio steroids is what the next two years could very well resemble.
After the election of Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, in 1983, a group of 29 of the city's 50 aldermen led by "the Eddies"—Ed Vrdolyak and Ed Burke—fought the mayor at every turn. The block of 29, known as the Vrdolyak 29, consisted of 28 white councilmen and the body's only Hispanic member.
The Vrdolyak 29 would not only block the mayor's proposals, but would even block his appointments, a purely symbolic move as they were able to take places running city departments on an interim basis anyway. In their first session under the Washington administration, they voted themselves in charge of every single council committee. Some members even admitted that they blocked the mayor's proposals when they thought they had merit, because they claimed a good measure by Washington would be bad in the long run for the city because it would help prolong his mayorship.
Many believe the opposition was racially motivated. There certainly was grounds for believing that as the 1983 mayoral election which Washington won gained national headlines for its ugly and racially divisive nature.
The Vrdolyak 29 had a majority of votes, but not enough to override a mayoral veto, thus creating legislative gridlock. Chicago became known as "Beirut by the Lake."
Giving Lieberman an opening to leave in a self-righteous huff and storm dramatically into the waiting arms of Mitch McConnell hands your enemy another weapon.
Whereas making him your dancing monkey
takes that weapon off the table and keeps it available for your own future purposes.
Not saying that’s what should happen.
Not saying that’s what will happen.
Just saying that when big time politics is played by smart people, it looks a lot like this.