I'm no fan of Joe "Droopy-Dog" Lieberman, and my disdain for him goes back a few moons beyond the time he jumped the Democratic ship and started campaigning -- hard -- against Barack Obama. I remember his blue-nosed, holier-than-thou scolding of Bill Clinton as the precise moment I began to hate the sound of his voice.
But when I began also to read the drum-beat among Democratic activists for a Lieberman auto-da-fe following the Nov. 4th election -- the demands that he be thrown out of his Senate chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, etc. -- I thought (and still think), Gee, Barack might be needing his vote in the Republican filibusters to come. Despite Lieberman's appetites for Middle-East war-mongering, he's otherwise been a pretty dependable vote for Democratic initiatives.
I've been getting an earful in my own household about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum Lieberman, and then yesterday, when the Senate Democrats refrained from burning him at the stake, a whole new earful about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum bunch of Democratic senators for refusing to exact revenge against the traitor.
I have taken and continue to take a different view and am frankly surprised that the people who've most diligently bent my ear about Lieberman don't realize that ... it's just politics. But different now. It's Obama politics.
He said -- promised -- he was going to change the tone in Washington, the way stuff gets done. He said -- promised -- he was going to unify the country. It was Obama, not the Democratic senators, who gave Lieberman his reprieve from the death sentence. It was Obama whose name and reputation Lieberman attacked, and it was Obama who forgave him. It's not my place to insist on a public stoning of the heretic who's already been forgiven by the wronged party.
I think Obama's handling of Lieberman is ... cool, in so many senses of that word, maybe precisely because it goes against my own much hotter thirst for vengeance (in the final analysis, I discover I don't want a president who thinks exactly as I do). It's cool because it neutralizes Lieberman, who now owes Obama for his continued committee assignments. It's cool because it forestalls a sore point that the Republicans in the Senate were itching to massage.
All the froth -- and threats -- coming from certain quarters of Left Blogistan strike me as utterly predictable and totally wrong-headed. My mother used to call that sort of self-lacerating tantrum "Cutting off your nose to spite your face."
I'm not swayed, either, by the predictions that Lieberman has been given license to betray again, that he's like the German soldier spared execution in "Saving Private Ryan" only to come back and murder members of Tom Hanks's squad at the end of the movie. I think it more likely that Lieberman's near-death experience will make him more like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," allowed to return to home and hearth after getting a vision of what life would have been like if he'd never been born.