Thursday, February 22, 2007

A New Senate Nuclear Option

Could the Joe-Mentum in the Senate be moving toward the GOP? It’s truly the new nuclear option for Senator Joe Lieberman, who told Time and The Politico that he’d consider switching to the Republican Party if Democrats don’t get their act together on Iraq .

“I have no desire to change parties,” Lieberman told The Politico. “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.”

Lieberman said the pending fight over funding for Iraq and President Bush’s surge could be a tipping point for him – and, thus, the Senate. “I hope we don’t get to that point,” he said.

Proving the move is pretty well orchestrated, Lieberman said the same stuff to Time in a piece appropriately titled “What Joe Lieberman Wants …” Time talks about Lieberman preferring Sen. John McCain in the presidential sweepstakes, that he’s working on a Social Security fix with South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.

About leaving, Joe calls it a “very remote possibility.” But, as Time notes, even that “possibility” gives Lieberman all the cards with the Democrats – and the White House.

What a far cry from last year, when Democrats thought they had Lieberman over a barrel and had him knocked out in a primary, never to be heard from again.

The trick for Joe is to use his power once and be done with it. He surely knows well that you can’t be the senator threatening to flip forever.

But, for now, he could be exactly what the Senate and the country needs – a moderate voice to pull together both ends of the spectrum. Hmmm, sounds like the working definition of an independent.

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