Monday, May 07, 2007


Hugh Bailey smacks Joe Lieberman around:

It may be hard to understand for someone who thinks of himself as above all that, but politics is partisanship. People align themselves with different parties because they have different beliefs, and different ideas. Not everyone agrees on the best way to, say, fund education or conduct foreign policy — or prevent terrorism. What kind of a political world are we looking for with no partisanship?

Maybe he wants the kind we had for most of the past six years. With one party running the legislative and executive branches, there was no oversight, no accountability, and now we're stuck in the middle of a war — we can't stay and we can't leave. Maybe more partisanship could have avoided all this.

Lieberman leads the Senate committee on government affairs, but apparently avoiding the "partisan politics of polarization," as he calls it, is a good excuse not to do his job. Campaigning last year, he said he would make sure the Bush administration turned over records on internal White House deliberations — likely to embarrass the president — from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After the election, he changed his mind.

"We don't want to play 'gotcha' anymore," Lieberman said in January when word came out he was backing off his pre-election promise. "We want to get the aid and assistance to the people of the region who need it," as though the two were mutually exclusive.

The leader of the House version of Lieberman's committee is Rep. Henry Waxman of California. Armed with subpoena power, Waxman has already delved into the Pentagon propaganda operation, which fictionalized the stories of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman; he's investigating the parallel e-mail system that may have allowed White House political staff to avoid laws on preserving communications; and he wants answers from the top about the lies leading up to the Iraq invasion. There is no chance of seeing similar investigations in the Senate committee — Lieberman knows which voters got him back into office last year, and they weren't Democrats. But he can take credit for one achievement. He succeeded in getting Republicans and Democrats to alternate seats with one another around the dais when they meet in committee, rather than splitting up on one side or the other. All the better for civility.

If the self-appointed arbiter of all things bipartisan is going to turn his back on doing the job he was elected to do, he can at least make sure everyone is nice to each other.