Monday, November 17, 2008

As d-day nears for Holy Joe, will the secret ballot help or hurt him? And thanks, Dennis Shulman, for speaking out for real American values


"Although I will not be taking a seat in Congress in January, I am hopeful about our country. I am hopeful that, with a new president and with Scott Garrett’s positions becoming even more marginalized in the House, that our country will again find its way."
-- from NJ-05 candidate Dennis Shulman's DWT guest post

by Ken

It took me awhile to catch up with Dennis Shulman's remarkable guest post (see the link above), but I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of praise and thanks in the comments. He was a remarkable candidate, and his post can serve as an inspiring as well as practical manifesto for everyone else running for public office -- or, more important, to those already elected to serve.

In this election as in 2006 we saw some terrific people elected to both houses of Congress along with the all-too-predictable quantity of Emanuelite and Schumerian sludge. But we were also introduced to some remarkable people who unfortunately didn't win their races. That hardly makes them "losers." I'd prefer to think of those campaigns as our introduction to some remarkable people whose voices I hope we'll be hearing as part of the national political dialogue.

Again, thanks, Dennis Shulman.


To plunge from the politically sublime to the utterly absysmal, word is that a deal has been struck to save Holy Joe's chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Ken Strickland reports on MSBNC's First Read blog: "According to sources familiar with negotiations, Democrats are expected to vote in favor of letting the Connecticut senator keep his chairmanship and seniority, but give up the gavel on a subcommittee he chairs."

Why? Because, says Strickland, President-elect Obama said he wants Holy Joe to caucus with the Democrats, and Holy Joe apparently insisted he won't if he's stripped of his committee chairmanship. This is, in other words, what I said the other day -- when everyone else was telling me I was crazy, that the president-elect hadn't said anything at all about the committee chair question. As if he doesn't know what everyone else does, that Joe will never give up that chairmanship voluntarily.

According to Politico, the Senate Democratic caucus will meet in the morning. John Bresnahan reports:

Here’s how it will go down:

--Caucus secretary Patty Murray (D-Wash.) calls the roll at 9:30 a.m. Lieberman is then expected to make an address to his fellow Democrats, asking them to forego vengeance.

--Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has publicly expressed his displeasure with Lieberman, may speak up – or he could remain silent.

--At that point, any member could introduce a motion to remove Lieberman from the committee (Sens. Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders and Byron Dorgan are among the likely sponsors). Other amendments – including any plan to strip Lieberman of seats on other committees – could then be introduced.

--More speeches, should any member want to give any.

--A secret ballot.

After that, it’s on to a series of (likely) unanimous leadership votes, starting with Reid as majority leader. Democratic insiders say the caucus could then pick Chuck Schumer’s replacement as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman, almost certainly Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

The group will then review anticipated committee changes. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) will be tapped to replace Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is the likely choice for Joe Biden’s vacated Foreign Relations post.

Assuming that the matter hasn't already been determined, there's been an interesting controversy as to whether the secret-ballot proceeding would save Holy Joe, by shielding senators from accountability for their votes, or doom him, by relieving them of fear of reprisal from one of the pettiest, most vindictive persons on the planet. As the latter theory went, even people whose support the Joementum Man would normally take for granted might vote their conscience if they could do it in secret.

Personally, I didn't buy it.

Are there really secrets in Washington? Within minutes of any vote, everyone would know the tally, accompanied by informed guesses as to who the "nays" are. All sorts of collateral considerations would be brought into play to refine the list, which in the end would likely be fairly accurate. And that would probably frighten Holy Joe's colleagues even more than an officially tallied vote, because even if they were to vote "right," they might still have to prove the unprovable to His Holiness: "Hey, Joe, it wuzznt me!"

When it comes to wreaking vengeance, my guess is that our Joe would err on the side of inclusiveness, on the theory that it's better to screw some poor fucker who doesn't really deserve it than to let any of those #$%^&-ing SOBs go unpunished.


Filling in for Rachel Maddow tonight, Arianna Huffington talked to MSNBC analyst Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. about tomorrow morning, and got what she considered a bleak prognosis. Lawrence was careful to say that he's been surprised before by these secret-ballot affairs, but he really doesn't think Holy Joe's charimanship is in jeopardy. At most, maybe he'll lose one of his committed assignments (of which he already has more than most senators), and possibly one of his subcommittee chairmanships.

Then Arianna asked essentially the above question: Shouldn't His Holiness have to pay a price for his truly dreadful performance as committee chairman? And our Lawrence burst out laughing. I tell you, it was a hearty, all-systems-purging belly laugh. I mean, it lightened even this depressed viewer's soul, seeing him vent all that jollity. Professional that Lawrence is, he managed to contain his hilarity enough to explain that there's not a chance that Joe's fellow senators would presume to judge his performance, especially on a committee that senators don't take particularly seriously. Still, it seemed to be the very thought that senators might even contemplate evaluating one another's performance, holding committee chairs or anyone else to some kind of standard of performance-based accountability, that made his whole body shake with mirth.

Man oh man, what could we have been thinking, folks?

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At 6:34 PM, Blogger Charles D said...

I could ask what is the point of holding a secret ballot when the outcome is pre-determined? If the Senate Democrats don't have the balls to kick Holy Joe down a few pegs, how can we expect them to perform their Constitutional duties? Oh, they haven't done that for decades anyway.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Daro said...

Joe's handlers in Tel Aviv must be breathing a little easier that their "whale" has nearly made it through the dangerously narrow gap of potential "peer" censure. Now the field is wide open and Joe can be the rolling boulder once more.

People who think Joe will stay in place under a whip hand are mistaken. He can slash Obama like the Ripper and the Dems will be powerless.

How will it play to the public if Dems pull his chairmanship after "honest" Joe strategically speaks up playing to the gallery by attacking key Dems on populist issues just as any [noble-minded] politician should with the issues?"

To wit: When he sets out to shaft, burn, ruin and libel every fellow Dem name scored on his grudge sheet, he'll be as unstoppable as an Israeli Caterpillar Bulldozer running over a young American girl..

At 7:03 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Oh man, the idea that the Dems can yank our Joe's chairmanship while the congressional session is in progress . . . talk about loopy!

I meant to comment on this last week when I wrote about Evan Bayh's preposterous defense of His Holiness on Rachel Maddow's show. If he does bad things we can always punish him then, Evan said. Ohmygosh! This must have been so preposterous that it slipped my mind completely.

Of course if the caucus tried such a thing in the face of Liebermaniacal misbehavior, His Holiness would be screaming in wounded outrage about the partisan coverup!

Even Lawrence O'Donnell -- in the conversation with Arianna Huffington that I reported in my UPDATE -- fell back on the lame explanation that veteran Democrats know you can never "enough" votes in the Senate, never enough so you can afford to blow one off. But the fact is that anytime Holy Joe's vote becomes that crucial, anyone who counts on it is simply nuts.

As I've written, I would much rather see Holy Joe quit the Senate in a huff -- like he would ever do that! -- and have a replacement appointed by Connecticut's Republican governor Jodi Rell. Sight unseen, Senator X is going to be easier for Senate Democrats to deal with than our Joe.


At 7:14 PM, Blogger VG said...

Ken, great post.

This whole thing pisses me off, like totally. I'm so apoplectic I'm not even sure I can make a sane comment.

I really don't know what the vote has to be to kick Joe out.

At this point, I am wishing that the Senators had read Grisham's book "The Brethern"- 3 judges in jail, who voted on the "cases" brought before them. Always a secret ballot. And, even if the private verdict was 3-0 no, they always gave the total of the secret ballot was 2 no, 1 yes. No names named as to who voted which way.

So speculation could abound as to who against the "plaintiff" voted no, but the three always had their asses covered. If you see what I mean.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger KELSO'S NUTS said...

Obama has no views so he really doesn't have any problem with anybody. He just wants to be loved. DeMint could just as easily fit in his cabinet as Leahy could.

There's only one person that Obama really dislikes and that's Howard Dean. Dean's a real problem because he doesn't care what anyone thinks about him, he wants to be right and make his point. And Dean and Obama really don't match up on a single area of policy.

Obama figured that out and made a point of marginalizing Dean. What Obama hasn't counted on is the degree to which Dean doesn't give a shit. If Obama does the expected thing and starts a third war, Dean will challenge him.

And the racist thing is old news. He can't play that one on Dean. What evidence could he use? That Dean opposes him? It won't play. Dean, however, really gets under Obama's skin. He could bait Obama into making an anti-semitic remark about Dean's wife or kids and then it's all over.

It's fanciful to be sure, but I've never seen a Democratic President-elect with such disdain for his own party before. I know just how I'd catch Obama sleeping with that. I'd let him roll into his "da da da da Wall Street/Main Street" thingy and just lead him down the path to the "speculators" and finally the "Jewish banking conspiracy." And you can parcel post Obama back to Hawaii and let Dean beat the tar out of Palin.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why don't the citizens of Connecticut roll a recall over Holy Joe? Still waiting for an answer on that one.


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