Lieberman Gets Free Ride, Won't Pay Piper

The moves the Senate and the House are considering to rein in Wall Street are the real meat and potatoes story here tonight, but since Joe Lieberman is still hogging center stage, he is tonight's topic.

I talked to my buddy a little while ago, while he was on his way home. It wasn't until I brought up the Lieberman chokehold on the healthcare bill that he remembered that was why he originally called me.

"Dude," I said, "I just saw a greatest quotes from The Wire compilation. I might have to actually watch an episode now. Because to me the only thing different between the characters on The Wire and the characters in the Senate is the senators are almost all white, and they wield microphones instead of guns when they want to wreak havoc on The Game."

"Man," my buddy said, "Joe Lieberman reminds me of my real estate guy. He was supposed to be negotiating for the space for my office -- I finally had to tell him that it looked to me like he was working for the other side as much as he was working for me. So he tells me, 'I gotta work with these people after your deal is done.'"

"Damn," I said. "You're paying the rent, and paying him, and he's worrying about the damn landlord."

Which is exactly the same boat Lieberman is in. He is enjoying all the perks of being a Democratic party member, including his beloved committee chairmanships, without being a member of the party.

I don't think the healthcare bill is on the ropes just yet. Even if it gets past this point, however, it will still have to jump through a couple more difficult hoops before it gets to the White House.

I do think, though, that the person the Democrats used to reassure Lieberman when he thought he might be losing his committee chairmanships after becoming an Independent didn't stress enough what that consideration would cost. If the president would quit worrying about being a model negro next year and confine his bipartisanship efforts to his speeches, he might be surprised - the GOP resistance only really has any strength when Obama tries to get them to join together.

In the meantime, I think the White House, and its allies in both houses of Congress need to recognize that because of the increased level of attention this African American president is getting from a usually moribund press corp and the much larger and much more aggressive blogosphere-at-large, they are going to have to figure out how to incorporate some misdirection in their strategies, and devise ways to use that guaranteed "no" from the GOP on any of their efforts to the Democrats advantage.

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