Ringside Seat: Lieberman Finally Among Friends

When Joe Lieberman left the Senate earlier this year, he probably muttered a final, "You won't have me to kick around anymore, you rotten hippies" under his breath. After all, there was no member of the Senate with a more openly hostile relationship with his own party than Lieberman. There are conservative Democrats who buck the party line as often, but all of them come from conservative states and tack right to maintain their electoral viability. Not Lieberman—he represented one of the most liberal states in the country. Lieberman did it for spite.

So it wasn't too much of a surprise to learn today that Lieberman will be joining the American Enterprise Institute, where he'll chat by the copy machine with the likes of John Bolton, Lynn Cheney, Charles Murray, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz. Perhaps Lieberman deserves some credit for not cashing in and becoming a lobbyist like everyone else who leaves Congress, but it's hard to believe he didn't take the job feeling pleasure in the knowledge it was just one more thing that would make liberals dislike him, after he spent the last decade doing whatever he could to arouse their ire. There was the Iraq War, of course, which really started it all; Lieberman's enthusiastic support for the war led to a successful primary challenge in 2006. (After losing Connecticut's Democratic primary, he won election as an independent but continued to caucus with Democrats). But Lieberman's fight with the left reached its apex during the debate over health-care reform, when he announced that he would join a Republican filibuster of the bill if it contained a public option, then when that was dropped, announced he'd join a filibuster if it contained a Medicare buy-in for people over 55, which he himself had previously supported. Why? As The New York Times wrote at the time, Lieberman decided that a buy-in was abhorrent "because it was enthusiastically embraced by supporters of a government-run health system." Or, more succinctly: Screw you, hippies.

In those last few years, that seemed his animating purpose, to stick it to the liberals who primaried him and said mean things about him. It was an ignoble end to a career that otherwise had a good deal to commend it. So it seems only right that Lieberman ends up at a place like AEI, where the occasional mild strategic disagreement notwithstanding, they can all agree on one thing: hating liberals.


So They Say

“I don’t golf, I don’t take vacations. I survived it … but if I do act a little wobbly today, I did take a few shots to the head.”

Representative Peter King, after facing off against kickboxing champion Josh Foley

Daily Meme: First Cuts Are the Deepest

  • Uproar over the sequester has quickly faded from Washington's consciousness. But, local communities across the country are feeling the burn.
  • In Santa Clara County, California, 800 families could lose low-income housing.
  • In Indiana, 1,000 military technicians are in danger of being furloughed, and a $30 million construction project on the South Bend Armory has been delayed.
  • The Rocky Mountain National Park is losing 5 percent of its budget.
  • The Fort Worth Housing Authority is canceling low-income housing vouchers. "It's a very difficult thing to do because we have never had to do it," said Selarstean Mitchell, the vice president of assisted housing. "People are surprised. When they get that voucher, they are always so happy and excited."
  • The Vanderbilt University operating budget will shrink by $50 million.
  • Schools in North Carolina aren't quite sure what the cuts will exactly be yet, but they know the 40 percent of students who get Pell Grants will be hurt most
  • In El Paso County, Colorado, 150 Head Start slots will disappear
  • Alaska's top interior department official, Pat Pourchot, says that “to meet the 9 percent reduction by the end of the fiscal year, it now appears that most, if not all, agencies will require personnel furloughs."
  • Hospitals in New York's Capital Region will lose $78 million in funding.
  • Eighty-four Idaho National Laboratory security workers will lose their jobs.

What We're Writing

  • Step aside, Anne-Marie Slaughter: Sheryl Sandberg's next up in the train of high-achieving women weighing in on the workplace. Irin Carmon's got a book review-cum-profile that pits the Facebook COO against both the traditional feminist bloc and the meritocrats she works with (and in which she just might come out ahead).
  • Bryce Stucki chats with Gavin Wright, a scholar of the economics of segregation, to talk about his new book on the progress of racial equality since the 1960s and about the Supreme Court review of Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act. 

What We're Reading

  • The ratio between Wyoming’s representation and California’s in the Senate is 66 to 1. Only Brazil, Argentina, and Russia have less-democratic legislative chambers than the United States.
  • Amy Davidson analyzes the new defense secretary's visit to the Middle East: "Welcome to Afghanistan, Secretary Hagel. Now can we go home?"
  • "The Grand Bargain is revered, among the Sunday Show set, as a goal essentially for its own sake. Its Grandness is its point." Alex Pareene eviscerates the Grand Bargain.
  • One reason the sequester may have happened? Senators have far more pressing concerns, like their office real estate.
  • Edward Luce has faintly glowing praise for Ben Bernanke's stewardship of the Federal Reserve.
  • Senator Jon Tester is pushing a bill to get senators to file their campaign donations electronically, expediting government transparency.
  • Breitbart.com has run a story from the totally-real-news site The Daily Current on Paul Krugman's declaration of bankruptcy. Except ... oops! The folks over there are in good company, though, joined by China's People's Daily Online, and the Iranian state news (excellent Breitbart bedfellows).
  • Republican polling was woefully off-base in the last election, and the party's heavily skewed numbers were at least in part responsible for the ridiculous predictions and embarrassing denials of various pundits on election night. But the GOP is trying to get its act together.
  • Tom Perez is up for the labor secretary spot, and while he probably isn't in for as much of a fight as Hagel or Brennan, the GOP's refusal to fill the NLRB seats that have been going unwarmed leads us to believe it'll be at least a little more than a rubber stamp. WonkBlog has a breakdown to help out.

Poll of the Day

Rasmussen has a new report finding voter approval of the Congress lower than "Mondays" and "foot-smell". More than half of the U.S. electorate wishes a pox on both houses. Interestingly, fully 12 percent of us believe the Senate is doing good work, and a staggering 19 percent of Americans are undergoing full-blown psychotic hallucinations of a successful House.