Cutting off your nose to spite your face – Robert Novak

Pressure is mounting within the Senate Democratic caucus to strip Sen. Joseph Lieberman of senior committee positions if he defeats Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in Connecticut, but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is expected to beat that back.

Lieberman will remain part of the Democratic caucus even though he would be elected as an independent after losing to Lamont in the Democratic primary. Many liberal senators, angry with Lieberman for supporting President Bush on Iraq, don’t want him to chair a committee in a Democratic-controlled Senate. He now is senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.

Reid says nothing publicly but is expected to save Lieberman. Disciplining fellow Democrats is not Reid’s style, and Lieberman’s vote could be crucial in taking Senate control from the Republicans. Reid and Lieberman also have a particularly close personal relationship.

This is a wise move by Reid. For one, parties should stick up for their incumbents. It’s the best way to ensure good candidates down the road; you’re less likely to get people to run if they have reason to believe that you might turn against them in the future. It’s why I’m not bothered that President Bush and the Senate Republican caucus are supporting Lincoln Chafee in his primary in Rhode Island, evne though I’ve sent money to his opponent since I dislike Chafee so much. (It’s also why I wasn’t upset about Bush and Santorum supporting Specter in 2004.) I am bothered by the attack ads the National Republoican Senatorial Committee ran against Laffey. More evidence the 11th Commandment (“That shalt not speak ill of any other Republican.” – Ronald Reagan) only matters when it’s moderates being attacked.

Furthermore, Reid may need Lieberman’s vote for Majority Leader come next year. A conservative publication I was reading this morning forecast a 50-50 split in the Senate. Lieberman’s vote could be critical in that close a Senate and ticking him off by acting petty could cost the Democrats dearly.