Today the Democrats in Congress gave the finger to those who supported them and worked for their victory. They voted overwhelmingly to keep Joe Lieberman — the “Independent” senator from Connecitut who is pro-war, pro-torture, and pro everything despicable about the Bush administration — as chair of the Homeland Security Committee where he can obstruct change. Hunter at Daily Kos explains why ths matters:
Why It Matters
In the end, the Lieberman fight isn’t entirely about Lieberman. Yes, people want to see consequences doled out for the perennially back-stabbing Senator who formed his own political party when his own Democratic voters voted him out, who used his committee as a protectorate of the abuses of the Bush administration, and who — for God’s sake — campaigned for McCain and Palin, even when their campaign reached its most rancid lows.
But more to the point, people in America want a change from the Bush years — desperately. And they voted for it, delivering a thumping mandate for Obama. They want things to change, and that’s why this minor battle has taken on so much meaning, and why people are so peeved: this was the first test of mettle, and it showed no mettle at all.
Like all of these early decisions, this is about setting the first boundaries of what the debate will be, for the next four years, and what “change” will and won’t be acceptable to the Senate. By putting Lieberman back in this slot, the Senate is clearly saying that there will be dramatic “change” in Washington over their dead bodies. Will we leave Iraq? Maybe — but they’ve put someone in charge who will undermine every effort to make that happen, so it’s clearly so far down the list of priorities as to be non-existant. Will we improve on the monstrosity that is current “homeland security,” or investigate corruption or abuses of that era? No way — we could have done that the last two years, and did not, and Lieberman in particular went out of his way to find nothing the slightest bit alarming about how the homeland security or military apparatus of the nation was run, despite profound evidence to the contrary. Will there be consequences for any people who have behaved so abominably, during the Bush era? Signs point to a resounding no, if this is any signal — and I think it would be foolish not to presume it is one, whether intentional or not.
You don’t put the status quo guy in charge unless you want the status quo, and you don’t put an ideological Republican in the Homeland Security chair unless you want the results to be Republican. That’s why people are enraged — not merely because Leiberman is such an ass, but because this is a clear signal that the Senate has no intention of running things in 2009 any differently than they did 2007 or 2008, and that means (1) weakness, (2) pussy-footing, and (3) allowing Republican obstructionism at every turn. Even in situations where the Republicans (or their ideological allies, like Lieberman) have absolutely no clout whatsoever.
People voted for change. Again — just like in 2006. If they don’t get it, the mood in the country is going to turn south in a hurry. There’s still a war, a recession, an economic crisis, a whole bunch of government incompetence and, oh yeah, a second war out there. Things are grim, and the Democrats are in charge of all of it, now — the whole thing. The implication here, that they still consider their precious collegiality and seniority games to outstrip all of it, and are willing to keep sabotaging a very, very important legislative committee in order to maintain a steady, peaceful ship of state… it smacks of an enforced weakness, and of self-indulgence that nears the point of corruption.