Lieberman Threatens To Join Republicans If Everything Doesn’t Go His Way

Joseph Lieberman appears to be trying to exercise the most political clout today, knowing that in less than two years he will be irrelevant. Currently Democrats need this former-Democrat to vote with them to maintain control of the Senate. This allows Lieberman to make threats as Editor and Publisher report appear in the upcoming edition of Time:

Lieberman calls jumping to the Republican side, and tilting the Senate, “a remote possibility,” which means there’s at least a chance of that. Time seems to push Lieberman in this direction, as the article concludes: “Lieberman’s GOP flirtation has its risks–and a time limit….The longer he waits to capitalize on his moment, the greater the danger that he’ll be tagged as one of those politicians for whom having power is more important than using it.”

Politico has more:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut told the Politico Thursday that he has no immediate plans to switch parties, but suggested Democratic opposition to funding the war in Iraq might change his mind…

“I have no desire to change parties,” Lieberman said in a telephone interview. “If that ever happens, it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable with.”

Asked whether that hasn’t already happened with Iraq, Lieberman said: “We will see how that plays out in the coming months,” specifically how the party approaches the issue of continued funding for the war.

He suggested, however, that the forthcoming showdown over new funding could be a deciding factor that would lure him to the Republican Party.

“I hope we don’t get to that point,” Lieberman said. “That’s about all I will say on it today. That would hurt.”

This contradicts previoius statements from Lieberman such as this in this interview in New York Magazine in August 2006:

Lieberman thinks of going independent as a pragmatic ploy, not an abandonment of his party. “I’ve been a Democrat for 40 years, I’ll die a Democrat, I’ll probably be a Democrat after my death, I may still be voting Democrat in some cities in Connecticut postmortem,” he jokes.

I think that Lieberman just wants to throw out this possibility from time to time to attempt to maximize his current political power. If he were to change parties, he’d be just another pro-war Republican that nobody would care about anymore. Republicans would no longer need to try to recruit him, and would’t be very willing to work with him on many other issues. Lincoln Chafee could explain to him what happens to those who run as Republicans in the northeast.

Update: Political Insider reports that even if Lieberman changed parties, Democrats would retain control of the Senate.

Update II:  History News Network also argues that a Lieberman flip wouldn’t give Republicans control of the Senate.

2 Comments

  1. 1
    Tano says:

    Who cares if he switches?

    He will not be able to turn over the senate to the Repubs, since, unlike 2001 with Jeffords, there is no provision in the organizing resolution to revisit Senate organization before the next election if the number of seats per party changes.

    So he would just move himself into the minority – lose his chairmanship. And of course, he would vote on all legislation the way he would have voted anyway.

    I dont really see the point for him, or any reason we should care.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I added a link to the Political Insider item which states this. I’d feel better reading this in a source beyond a blog. I still fear that the Republicans might be able to do more mischief if they actually have a majority of votes. Who knows what other Senate rules they might be able to drag up, and then enforce with a majority vote.

    However if this is true, then we can ignore his threat. Even before reading this I was skeptical that he would carry through with the threat. If it really meant that he’d then be in the minority, the chances are virtually zero.

    If true that control of the Senate wouldn’t change hands, I would speculate that he made the threat under the assumption that it would still get attention (as it did) due to people believing that if he defected it would change control of the Senate.

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