Democratic U.S. Senators have apparently decided to satisfy their anger at Sen. Lieberman with a slap on the wrist, stripping him of the chairmanship of a relatively minor subcommittee while allowing him to retain the post he really covets, the chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Leaving aside my opinion of Lieberman as a politician, this strikes me as fair treatment. As a dissident within the American Bipolarchy I abhor partisanship. Lieberman is an independent by virtue of his re-election following defeat in a Democratic primary, but continues to caucus with the Democratic senators. If he wants to continue doing so, as he's given every indication of doing to my knowledge, it would be stupid of Sen. Reid or his colleagues to punish a non-Democrat for supporting another non-Democrat, Sen. McCain, in the presidential election. Would they treat the other alleged independent, Sen. Sanders, the same way if he had shown true independence and endorsed Nader or another left-leaning candidate? Perhaps they would, since partisanship dulls the brain, but it would be unwise in both cases. Why throw away votes when you'll need every one you can get, including some from the other side of the aisle, to win cloture votes?
If Democrats want to convince us that their party is just some convenient tool for advancing liberal or progressive policies, and not some self-conscious, self-interested and self-perpetuating institution that exists for its own ends alone, they should avoid the habits of partisanship in other lands and resist the temptation to purge impure elements like Lieberman. I abhor his foreign policy, but if his state wants him in spite of the party, the Senate might as well accommodate him if he wants to be accommodating. As far as I know, he remains a liberal on most domestic issues, and so long as the Homeland Security chair can be checked by President Obama and grants Lieberman no authority over foreign policy, there's little harm in giving him his way. Further, protecting Lieberman may help Reid and Obama secure the good will of McCain, Sen. Graham and any other Republicans who might want to play ball with the new regime. If there's to be a "team of rivals" from January forward, Lieberman may as well be part of it.