As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why Do I Know More Than People Who Do This For A Living?

These guys at The Politico report BREAKING NEWS!!1! Lieberman may switch parties! Why what someone MIGHT do is news, I'll never know.

But what really gets me is this line at the bottom of the article: "Republicans have long targeted Lieberman to switch – a move that would give them control of the Senate."

The Politico is wrong, this move would NOT give Republicans control of the Senate. The only reason that the Jeffords switch did is that, in the interregnum between Clinton and Bush's Presidencies, when the new 50-50 Congress was in session but with Al Gore as its President, the Democrats had the majority for 17 days, and they wrote in particular rules mandating that, in the event of a party switch, the Dems would take over. No such thing was done in the organizational rules of the 110th Congress in the Senate, and however the organizing rules are written at the beginning of the session stand. There is indeed precedent for the party with less members still holding the majority, in 1953. Now, why do I have that information pretty much immediately, and the people at The Politico, whose entire living is devoted to covering politics, don't?

A Lieberman switch would certainly make it more difficult for the Democrats to function, but Harry Reid would still be Majority Leader, and the heads of all the Committees would be Democrats. In fact, the biggest thing that would arise from this is that Lieberman would be tossed OUT of the Chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. Which is why he'll continue to talk about doing it, but won't.

Lieberman is a political animal who more than anything craves power and attention. He wouldn't get any in the Republican caucus. He wouldn't be as much of an anomaly there. Dave Weigel says it best:

More pivotal reason why this switch won't happen: If Lieberman becomes a Republican no one will care about him anymore. A pro-war liberal Democrat is a media curio and a useful guy to have on your side when you're promoting a new resolution or a speech at AEI. A pro-war liberal Republican is... George Voinovich. Stay ornery, don't switch parties, and people will care about you. This is the trick Zell Miller mastered, and Chuck Hagel has figured out pretty well, for all of his absolute uselessness.

For some reason the press buys into this, despite it being completely silly. But I don't expect them to quit, and I'm sure Lieberman doesn't either. Ipso facto presto change-o, Lieberman's not going anywhere.

UPDATE: Via the comments in this thread, it appears that about the only way the Senate could actually flip is if the Republicans invoke the nuclear option to do it, eliminating the filibuster. There's a long-winded explanation for this, but that's the short version. There were specific rules in the organizing resolution in 2001 that made a party switch easy; none of them apply to this Congress.

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