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An Open Letter To Joe Lieberman

I submit to you, Sen. Lieberman, that you were punished yesterday more than you realize. Stick with me on this. I'll explain: it never fully occurred to me how Obama would use his strengths in a position of leadership. Until this week.
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Dear Senator Lieberman,

Congratulations! You got away with it! So despite having supported and endorsed the Republican candidate for president -- and going so far as to question the patriotism of the Democratic nominee -- you've managed to keep your chairmanship. By rights, you should've been summarily ejector-seated from your committees, bonked on the head with your gavels -- cartoon-style -- and hauled from the Democratic caucus naked and on a rail whilst being pelted with wadded-up copies of your RNC address.

The aforementioned reasons for this still-lenient serving of justice fails to include the syllabus of other trespasses against you, including, first and foremost, your unwavering support for the Bush administration's unforgivable foreign policy -- a policy which has all but bankrupted our treasury and besmirched America's reputation abroad. Heckuva job, Senator!

One might be inclined to consider your conduct to date as somehow principled -- even mavericky, had it not been so transparently self-serving. Your behavior has been that of a man guided by nothing more than petty vengeance and retribution -- attention-starved opportunism not unlike grade-school instigators and gossip-mongers whose only path to relevance is to play two friends against each other. Worming your way from side to side depending on which kid or clique likes you more.

Now, I completely understand the political reasons for why President-elect Obama and the caucus ultimately chose to keep you around. Unfortunately, the Democrats need your stinky vote -- such as it is -- in order to theoretically break any future Republican filibusters. And there will be many of those to be sure. However, the closer we get to 60 votes in the caucus the better our chances of reversing the craptastical policies and legislation of your favorite Bush administration and the formerly Republican Congress.

Sure, there's no guarantee that you'll vote with the caucus, but you made it clear that you would have pitched a spasmodic, petulant fit and changed your affiliation to the Republican Party from the "Lieberman Loves Lieberman" party or whatever the hell it's called, had you been stripped of your chairmanship. Consequently, the Democratic caucus would've definitely lost your vote. It's an unenviable "possibly" versus "definitely" proposition. And with the caucus being this close to 60 against what will surely be an obstructionist Republican caucus, we have no other choice but to roll the dice with "possibly."

That is until 2010 when the Democrats will hopefully attain enough members, and thus votes, that they won't need your support anymore. Then you can storm off and mind-screw the Republicans for a couple of years until -- and it's probably not good strategy to tip our hand like this, but you know it's coming -- until you lose in 2012.

Nevertheless, you got what you wanted yesterday. Circumstances allowed you to keep your chairmanship irrespective of your weasely and contemptible maneuvering. And more than a few of us on the left actually agree with you for once: you managed to abscond off without adequate punishment.

You got away with it, despite those meddling kids, right?

Not so fast.

I submit to you, Senator Lieberman, that you were punished yesterday more than you realize. Stick with me on this. I'll explain.

I've been a supporter of the president-elect for the better part of a year now, and while I've always recognized a deep intellectualism and multilayered thoughtfulness in the man, it never fully occurred to me how he would use these strengths in a position of leadership. Until this week.

In sharp contrast to your behavior, President-elect Obama hasn't shown any predilection for pettiness or disloyalty, nor has he undermined his allies for the sake of political expedience. He's proved himself to be a man of great character. Of values. I don't need to remind anyone how he stood by Jeremiah Wright, for example, and at his own political peril when most would've tossed him overboard like political chum.

You, on the other hand, have shown an unapologetic contempt for the party that once nominated you for the vice presidency -- the party that welcomed you back to the fold even though you slipped through the system and defeated the fairly elected Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, in 2006. You've betrayed your fellow liberals to settle a political score, Senator -- in order to exact some kind of ignoble payback against your former party, against your caucus and against the netroots for merely calling you out on your literal and figurative smooching of the president.

This is behavior President-elect Obama doesn't appear to be capable of. Because he's clearly better than you. In fact, it's not difficult to hypothesize that had you possessed a fraction of his political instincts or any small measure of his morality, you would absolutely not be in this position, Senator.

See, by allowing you to keep your precious chairmanship -- by letting you off the hook -- President-elect Obama, through his political bigness, punished you without punishing you. He beat you yesterday, Senator. He beat you because he let you be you, and underscored it with his demonstrably better angels and strength of character.

In the final analysis, the hard reality is that by not choosing retribution, he made you look...


And that, Senator, is good enough for me.

Bob Cesca
The Huffington Post

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