And then there are times — like today — when I am sure of it.
Alexander Mooney writes for CNN Politics that Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman has said that he will probably campaign for some Republican candidates for the House and Senate next year.
Mooney reminds readers that Lieberman campaigned for John McCain in last year's presidential campaign, and he also campaigned for Maine Sen. Susan Collins and New York Rep. Peter King.
Lieberman, of course, once was a Democrat. He ran on the Democratic ticket as Al Gore's running mate in 2000 and, initially, sought re–election to the Senate as a Democrat in 2006. But he became an independent after he lost the Democratic nomination and was re–elected that way.
So he is not, technically, a Democrat, although many of the readers who left comments do not seem to be aware that he made that official during his last re–election campaign.
- "Lieberman is a turn-coat, a traitor, to his Party and the state of Connecticut!" wrote one reader.
- "Well, it is about time the Democratic Party let the good senator from NH go his way," wrote one reader who apparently doesn't understand that New Hampshire and Connecticut are two different states.
It is fascinating to read some of the comments that readers (many of whom appear to be Democrats) have posted with this article. Their comments clearly show a lack of understanding of how things are done. (By the way, misspellings, punctuation and grammar errors are reproduced as they appeared):
- One reader wrote, "democrats should get rid of this moron asap. don't understand why obama let democrats let lieberman back on the committee."
The way that the federal government is set up in our republic, the president, as the head of the executive branch, doesn't "let" the members of his party on the legislative side do anything. They are supposed to act (pardon the expression) independently.
- "I wish the president would take this guy aside!" another reader wrote. As I was trying to say, the executive branch has no constitutional authority in this matter. We elected a president in this country, not a dictator.
- And several wrote, either in these words or words to this effect — "Who needs him?"
Kennedy, in case you didn't know, was behind the adoption of the law he sought to overturn. He promoted it in case the Democratic presidential nominee that year, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, defeated George W. Bush, leaving a vacancy that Republican Gov. Mitt Romney would fill. If that happened, Kennedy preferred the seat would remain vacant until a special election could be held instead of allowing a Republican governor to fill the vacancy with another Republican.
But when he was about to die, Kennedy didn't want the filibuster–proof majority to die with him.
No matter what the Democrats in D.C. say, next year's midterm elections are very important for them, precisely because no party is entitled to hold a majority. The Founding Fathers wanted to be sure that political power rested with the people and that they could change the balance of power if they wished.
I think it's a safe bet that none of the Founding Fathers possessed a functioning crystal ball. If they had, I suspect they would have written something into the law restricting the influence of lobbyists.
Some short–sighted readers flippantly dismissed the need for a filibuster–proof majority. These are Democrats, remember? In three–quarters of a century, Will Rogers' declaration that "I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat" remains valid.
And so does another observation: "The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best."
In nearly every midterm election since Rogers' death in 1935, the party that was out of power was the winner. Sometimes its victories were narrow. Sometimes they were lopsided. But the president's party almost always took it on the chin.
The historical trend suggests that the Republicans will regain some lost ground next year — probably not enough to change the balance of power, although, as I recall, that's what they were saying in 1994, just before Newt Gingrich and the "Contract With America." I know Republicans would like to see massive gains next year, but if they just manage to gain a single Senate seat, they can break that filibuster–proof majority and kill just about any Democratic initiative.
Which shouldn't be too hard to do. Republicans prize loyalty. Democrats reward individuality, even though it frequently works against them. Already this year we have seen a handful of Democrats break ranks on various issues.
Loyalty has its good points, but when the party is marching in lockstep off a cliff, it takes on an unstoppable momentum of its own. Likewise, individuality is a good thing, but it can make the Democrats look disorganized, like ducklings scattering in all directions.
As you may have guessed, I'm a fan of Will Rogers. And today, almost a year before the 2010 midterm elections, it isn't a bad idea for everyone to remember one of his lesser known — but still pertinent — remarks:
"Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."