The confetti has settled and there are some important details to be ironed out.
The ascendant Michael in "Godfather II" delivers the "kiss of death" to his disloyal brother Fredo because he had "taken sides against the family." The next thing you know, Fredo is taking a one-way rowboat trip to the middle of the lake.
Joe Lieberman was far worse than Fredo Corleone in this election.
Lieberman didn't just endorse "his good friend John McCain" over Obama—Lieberman campaigned AGGRESSIVELY every day against the Democratic nominee. He actively questioned Obama's patriotism, and passively called him a Marxist. He went far beyond supporting his friend when he worked to elect Republicans over Democrats down-ticket. If nothing else, there are far too many stills and videos of John McCain at a podium with Joe Lieberman and his fucking 340 Brachiosaurus teeth peeking through his sunken smile as McCain poured barrels of bullshit onstage.
Earlier this year, after one of Lieberman's bullshit public attacks on Obama, there was a "kiss of death" moment of sorts...with Obama putting an arm around Lieberman, leading him to the back of the Senate chamber for a "friendly chat." That was the moment. Things were surely made perfectly clear between Obama and Lieberman—you're betting on the wrong horse. And at that point Lieberman doubled down—he must have known then that he was pissing away his position in the party and decided to let it all ride for a spot on the ticket with McCain or a fall-back job in his cabinet.
He lost. And elections and bad gambles have consequences.
If it were up to me, Lieberman would be out on his ass. At the very least, lose his Chairmanship and committee posts, his seniority and he could earn his way back if he behaved. Otherwise he's free to take Mitch McConnell's gracious invitation to join the freshly castrated GOP at the back of the line.
But it's not up to me, and frankly, Obama needs to steer clear of it and I'm sure he knows that. But Harry Reid cannot let Lieberman's betrayal of the party go unanswered. You can't go as far down the road in the other direction as Lieberman did and expect to come back to things the way they were. So, a series of discussions have ensued. They are being termed as negotiations—but they shouldn't be. Reid can dictate terms yet gave Lieberman what I'd consider too generous an offer: a chance to stay in the Democratic caucus, keep his seniority, and become the chairman of some other committee.
Yet Lieberman somehow still thinks he's got leverage:
"Senator Lieberman's preference is to stay in the caucus, but he's going to keep all his options open. McConnell has reached out to him and at this stage his position is he wants to remain in the caucus but losing the chairmanship is unacceptable."
Unacceptable? WTF? Reid should channel a little Michael Corleone himself and counter with "My offer is this. Nothing."
I'm not going to pretend that I'm not coming at this from a vengeance angle. I loathe Lieberman, and I want his comeuppance. But aside from wanting his scalp, there are important strategic reasons this needs to happen...
See, Lieberman happens to chair the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. What's that, you ask? I'll let Steve Benen break that down for you:
...it's the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It's an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president's administration.
As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman's House counterpart -- Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee -- was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress.
And yet, now Lieberman acts as if keeping this chairmanship is the single most important part of his public life. Why would he be so desperate to keep the gavel of a committee he hasn't used? I'll let you in on a secret: he wants to start using the power of this committee against Obama.
The fact that Lieberman refused to perform his oversight duties is reason enough to yank him, but Benen is right—there is no reason to trust Lieberman going forward, and you can't wait until he launches something against Obama to make a move. He has to go. NOW.