Archive - Nov 17, 2008

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Pissing Off Pavlov

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Memo to Senate Democrats: NOT THAT BIG A TENT.

Tomorrow, we find out how Harry Reid's Democratic Senate deals with a Republican. If the last two years are any indication, they'll roll over and play nice so as not to be seen as excessively partisan or divisive, even if it means hauling out the elaborate Rube Goldberg machine Democrats keep handy at all times. I'm not at liberty to divulge the details, but basically, it works like this:

A Democrat stands on a low pedestal, and the ranking Democrat in the room places a hamster in a small wheel. Through a complex series of gears and relays, the kinetic energy of the hamster's motion is transferred to a large, steel-toed boot, which, thanks to the principle of mechanical advantage, kicks the Democrat very hard right in the ass. I don't know what the machine is called, but I know they keep it in a Big Tent.

The particular Republican they're dealing with tomorrow is "Joystick" Joe Lieberman. I do not give a shit that he was elected as Connecticut's senator as a member of the Connecticut For Lieberman party, although I am curious why he always has an (I) after his name on the news and not a (CFL). The fact is, he's thrown in his lot with the Republicans. He gave in to the social conservative, Mortal Kombat-hating, Bill Bennett ass-kissing impulses that lurk deep in his heart and backed John McCain all the way, going the extra mile of openly engaging in the red-baiting and black-baiting that was the McCain campaign at its worst.

And now that the horse he backed has been lifted into the van and euthanized, he wants the Democrats to forgive him and let him keep his cushy jobs as head of the Homeland Security and Government Reform committee. If he doesn't, he's hinted he might take up Mitch McConnell's kind offer and vote with the Republicans. That the Democrats are even considering this is why Democrats piss me off. There are times to play nice, and there are times to play hardball, and this is a time to play hardball.

If there's one thing Pavlov taught us, you don't feed the dog when you haven't rung the fucking bell. If the rewards are handed out for things other than behavior, you have no means of controlling the behavior. Do they think they're bribing him to behave? He called Obama a Marxist when he HAD the chairmanships. Letting him keep them just means the boundaries are even farther out than he'd thought. Which is pretty fucking terrifying if you think about it.

It's possible that rather than being instinctively stupid, Reid and co. are being tactically stupid. As of right now, Democrats can be assured of 56 reasonably loyal votes in the next Congress. If Mark Begich wins in Alaska, as is likely, that's 57. If Franken wins the recount, as is somewhat less likely, that's 58. And if Jim Martin pulls out the special election in Georgia, that's be 59. So if Lieberman votes with the Democrats, they get 60 and can ostensibly blow past any filibuster the GOP tries to raise.

There's a bit of a problem with that logic, though. Lieberman didn't feel compelled to side with the Dems when he was a Democrat, he didn't get any less compliant as a Connecticut For Lieberman, He won't be any more of a reliable 60th vote after you give him is cookie. And if he throws a tantrum and caucuses with the Republicans, we'll get to see just how often he actually "votes his conscience" and sides with the Democrats, something Harry Reid seems to think happens all the time on any issue that isn't really really important, like the war.

All of this is completely separate from the fact that Lieberman sucks as a committee chair. His committee exists, among other things, to investigate chicanery and general jiggery-pokery in the area of national security and the military. But if his committee were the sole metric, you 'd think Bush had been running his wars, his intelligence operations, his spying, his prisoner policy, and the financing of everything in a perfectly legal, ethical, respectable, and above-board manner.

It's rare that a profane phrase I've been reciting for the better part of the past decade is actually sound public policy advice, but FUCK JOE LIEBERMAN. Al Gore didn't take that advice. The voters of Connecticut didn't take that advice. And odds are, the Senate Democrats won't take that advice either. But when they don't, Joe Lieberman and I will agree on at least one thing. Senate Democrats are suckers.