Communication Matters

Analysis, critique, and advice on today's hot news topics from the perspective of a Strategic PR Consultant.

Lieberman in a No Lose situation.

Posted by mrsmart on October 26, 2008

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) may have gambled one time too many and stands to lose big time.

More than the GOP, one person fearing, and praying against a Democratic super majority in the senate is Senator Lieberman. His choices are stark. If McCain wins, he can choose any cabinet position he wants in a McCain administration and not worry about his senate seat. What gives him heartburn, however, is the looming earthquake in the senate contests that threatens to dramatically alter the setup in the senate, and thus his fortunes.

Though once a Democratic stalwart, towing the party line for nearly two decades, and only breaking strikingly with the party on the Iraq war, Lieberman is in a precarious position with the Democratic Party.

The matrix
McCain wins, Lieberman wins.
Democrats maintain their slim senate seats advantage, Lieberman wins
Democrats fall short of 60 seats super majority, Lieberman wins
Democrats gain super majority, 60 or more seats, Lieberman loses big time.

In 2000, while running for vice president on the Democratic Party ticket with Al Gore, Lieberman simultaneously successfully campaigned for his senate reelection. He took the weekends off from presidential campaigning because of the Jewish Sabbath. That may have been agreed upon before he was invited to join the ticket. When they lost the presidential election, Lieberman calmly returned to the senate, with no tinge of scar to his standing with the Democratic Party or the American people. Fast forward 6 years to his 2006 senatorial reelection bid.

Because of his strong support of the Iraq war, he lost the Democratic Party senate nomination, but ran and won as an Independent. What was the Democratic Party’s answer? Nothing. In fact, the Democrats kept, and actually rewarded him with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee chairmanship position. Despite rumbling from Democratic voters, the leadership balked. He will caucus with, and help them maintain their tiny majority in the senate.

Sensing he has the Democratic Party, as McCain would say, “just where he wants them,” Lieberman decided to take his gamble to another level.

Throughout the 2008 election, he has not only voiced his support for his friend John McCain, the Republican Party’s standard bearer, he actively campaigned on his behalf to Jewish voters especially in Florida, a battleground state. He also gave a speech at this year’s Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. In his convention speech, Lieberman served as an attack dog, sharply criticizing his former party’s nominee, Barack Obama, much to the chagrin of Democratic leadership and voters. This speech may have been the last straw.

If McCain wins the presidency, Lieberman wins. He gets to choose any cabinet position he desires, thus may not need his senate seat. If Democrats increase their majority less than the super majority, say 59 or less, Lieberman stands to keep his seat and his chairmanship. If, as it is increasingly looking probable, they get to 60 or more, Democratic leaders would have no choice but to show Mr. Lieberman where to sit and with whom NOT to caucus in the next congress. What would be worse is its symbolism.

Lieberman will have to face not only his former colleagues in the chambers but his constituents, having lost his seniority and now his chairmanship because he chose to do his own thing one time too many. That’s why Lieberman prays for a McCain win and a Democratic less-than-super majority senate win.


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