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Joe Lieberman fired a warning shot across the bow of the Democrats in his Meet the Press appearance this morning. When asked whether he would consider following Jim Jeffords' example and switch parties, Lieberman pointedly left his options open:
Sen. Joe Lieberman on Sunday repeated his pledge to caucus with Senate Democrats when the 110th Congress convenes in January, but refused to slam the door on possibly moving to the Republican side of the aisle.
Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he might follow the example of Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who left the Republicans in 2001 and became an independent, ending Republican control of the U.S. Senate, Lieberman refused to discount the possibility.
"I'm not ruling it out but I hope I don't get to that point," he said. "And I must say -- and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut -- nobody ever said, 'We're doing this because we want you to switch over. We want you to do what you think is right and good for our state and country,' and I appreciate that."
This should have the port side of the blogosphere in a dither this afternoon. Lieberman got elected partly through the efforts of Connecticut Republicans, who turned out in force to support the incumbent Democrat. No one openly asked Lieberman about crossing the aisle at the time, although plenty of speculation existed during the campaign, even among Lamont supporters.
Until I heard this quote from a CQ reader earlier today, I didn't believe that Lieberman would seriously consider it. He has a long track record in support of the Democratic platform. In fact, that's one of the reasons so many of us were surprised that the Leftroots tried to unseat him. Lieberman is no Lincoln Chafee in relation to his caucus (who, by the way, told someone on Election Day that he would not remain a Republican for long).
This underscores the importance of Lieberman to the control of the Senate. If he switches parties, he delivers control of the Senate to the GOP for the next two years, and makes Dick Cheney a very busy man. It forces the Democrats to carefully consider Lieberman when determining policy, especially on the war. It might force the Democrats to escalate efforts to get a Republican to cross the aisle, which would neutralize Lieberman. After the loss of Chafee, though, the pickings would be slim. Democratic leadership also has to consider Jim Webb, the Buchananite that ran as a Democrat, on everything else but the war.
Harry Reid will have his hands full over the next two years.
UPDATE: Forgot to credit The Scottish Right for the link.Sphere It View blog reactions
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