WHAT LIEBERMAN FINDS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’…. As political theater goes, the exploits of Joe Lieberman really are odd.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reached out to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) about the prospect of joining the Republican conference, but Lieberman is still bargaining with Democratic leaders to keep his chairmanship, according to Senate aides in both parties.

“Senator Lieberman’s preference is to stay in the caucus, but he’s going to keep all his options open,” a Lieberman aide said. “McConnell has reached out to him and at this stage his position is he wants to remain in the caucus but losing the chairmanship is unacceptable.”

A Republican Senate aide said Friday morning that there was little McConnell could offer in terms of high ranking committee slots, which is why Lieberman is resisting overtures from the Republican side.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to multiple reports and sources, has no intention of allowing Lieberman to stay on as chairman of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. A Lieberman aide told the Politico that “essentially what transpired is that Senator Reid talked about taking away his position perhaps for another position and Sen. Lieberman indicated that was unacceptable.”


Look, Reid is offering Lieberman a very sweet deal. By some counts, much too sweet. Lieberman betrayed the Democratic Party and broke his word to his own Democratic constituents. Reid is nevertheless willing to a) let him stay in the Democratic caucus; b) keep his seniority; and c) give him the chairmanship of something else. That, by any reasonable measure, is ridiculously gracious of Reid. It’s certainly more generosity than Lieberman deserves or has earned.

And yet, Lieberman thinks that’s “unacceptable.”

What possible incentive could Reid and Senate Democrats have to offer Lieberman an even better deal? The message is, or at least should be, surprisingly straightforward: “If you don’t like the generous offer, join the minority party.” It must drive Lieberman crazy, but the fact remains that Democrats don’t really need him. He has no leverage.

Or, put another way, what Lieberman finds “unacceptable” is of no consequence.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.