The Moral Morass That Is Joe Lieberman

So, the secret vote today let Lieberman keep his chairmanship and his place in the caucus.  To boot, he got to crow about it in the press conference afterwards.

Then Howard Dean proclaimed his support for the deal and made a good point: it’s hard to govern when you’re all about revenge.  Ryan Lizza said it well on Talk of the Nation this afternoon: Lieberman has Obama to thank for his retaining the chairmanship; when the time comes for the favor to be repaid, Lieberman won’t have any choice but to do so.

War Room covered a conference call Dean held with progressive bloggers, in which said bloggers tore into the much-loved Dean for endorsing the Lieberman deal.  Of all the Party’s leaders, one would have expected Dean to oppose only gently chiding Lieberman.

I must admit I’m torn about this one.  I tend to agree with the liberal blogosphere, that Lieberman was a real asshole and is not paying one wit for it.  But I also think that Dean, Obama, et al. are extremely smart to keep him close and not look vindictive.  Pushed to pick a side, I think I’m with Dean and Obama. Lest you want to give me a lashing for saying that, allow me to defend the pick.

As much as it pains me to see Joe Lieberman walking away unscathed, because I abhor him — really I have said more bad things about the guy than about a lot of people I know personally — I don’t think upsetting the party base is the worst thing Obama can do.  Didn’t we just live through eight years in which the Republican base was the only group Bush NEVER upset?  Where will the folks of Fire Dog Lake, Open Left and Kos go if Obama moves a tiny bit to the center sometimes?  Will they support Ralph Nader in 2012? No way.

It’s much easier to be a pragmatic political idealogue than a rabid extremist demagogue, whether you’re on the right or the left.  You are more likely to let your politicians do what they need to do to get things done, to understand that sometimes it’s not worth pursuing your ideological position to the extent that it alienates a whole swath of the country. It prevents disillusionment.

This was a governing choice not a political choice and the far left is going to have to get on that bandwagon sooner or later or their in for a lot of disappointment.

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