He Sure Loves A Klieg Light
Maybe the worst thing about Russ Feingold's czar hearing yesterday is that it got got Joe Lieberman a-thinking:
Hey, so guess who is mulling new legislation to solve the alleged problem of Obama’s “czars”? Joe Lieberman!
He may even hold hearings on the czars, as the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Since this will confer legitimacy on an attack that has mostly emanated from Glenn Beck and the hothouse right, it could prompt an “I told you so” chorus from those who argued that Lieberman should be stripped of his committee slots.
Leslie Phillips, a spokesperson for Lieberman’s committee, confirms by email that Lieberman’s legislation is “in the early conceptual stage.” She also said a hearing is in the works, with its schedule up the air until the committee can nail down witnesses.
Feingold's hearing yesterday should have actually ended this debate in Congress, not begun it. The panel, assembled on a bipartisan basis by Feingold and Tom Coburn, pretty unanimously argued that the Obama Administration was within Constitutional boundaries to have Presidential advisors in the White House. But Lieberman loves those Fox klieg lights (you know, the network who gives you "what we believe to be the facts"), and so does his partner in crime on the Committee, Susan Collins:
John Harrison, a University of Virginia law professor, compared the czars to the position of White House chief of staff, saying both hold great influence and can speak for the president, but their legal powers are limited.
Their "practical authority . . . is not legal authority, and as long as the distinction is rigorously maintained there will be no legal problem," Harrison said in his written testimony.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who had also written Obama questioning the czars, said in a statement the issue was not dead. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where she is the ranking member, will hold a similar hearing next week.
"The appointments of so many czars have muddied the waters, causing confusion and risking miscommunication going forward," Collins said.
Lieberman's call for legislation is the first time that has come up, taking this to an additional level. And it's not surprising coming from Holy Joe. You may recall that he got Glenn Beck into Yale. Yes, that's right:
"One local politician who appreciated Beck's regular digs at the governor was the man who had defeated Weicker in a bitterly contested 1988 senate race: Democrat Joe Lieberman. Beck and the senator were friendly throughout the '90s, until they fell out over Lieberman's refusal to back the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998. But before they parted ways, Lieberman would play a role in Beck's search for a worldview and identity by helping Beck enroll part-time at Yale in the fall of 1996. The ADHD-diagnosed Beck didn't last long at Yale. He took one class, "Early Christology," and dropped out."
Lieberman has appeared on Beck's show in the past. And once he submits this legislation, I'm sure he will again. He loves that klieg light.
It's definitely looking like keeping Lieberman as the chair of the committee in the Senate that can investigate the executive branch was a sound decision by Democrats.