Lieberman has a whip team?

LIEBERMAN HAS A WHIP TEAM?…. This is starting to look like a one-sided fight. Over the last several days, I haven’t found any Senate Democrats — literally, not one — who has argued that Joe Lieberman should lose his committee chairmanship. Even not-for-attribution leaks have only referenced a handful of senators “leaning” in one direction or another.

On the other hand, Lieberman seems to have a whip team on his side.

Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are all involved in the effort [on Lieberman’s behalf], according to top Senate Democratic aides. These four senators — along with other Lieberman allies — are reaching out to the rest of the Democratic Senate caucus to try to ensure Lieberman survives a secret ballot vote on whether to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

This effort, along with kind words from Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) last night about Lieberman, is giving the Connecticut senator some serious momentum heading into next week’s secret vote. Dodd’s involvement in saving his home-state senator is an extraordinary turn because Dodd backed Democratic candidate Ned Lamont in 2006 against Lieberman, who won the Connecticut Senate race as an independent.

Also driving the effort to save Lieberman — an outcast with the progressive left — is the spirit behind Barack Obama’s victory.

“He’s got momentum, and we need to keep him in the caucus, and this fits into Barack Obama’s message of change and moving forward,” said one Senate Democratic aide familiar with discussions. “The message here is that we don’t want to start off a new era with retribution.”

The report added that Senate Democrats are exploring some kind of “token” punishment for Lieberman, which could include giving him the chairmanship he wants, but losing a different committee assignment.

What’s more, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman told Keith Olbermann last night that even Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was reportedly very angry about Lieberman’s misconduct, is “now saying he’s willing to give Lieberman a chance.” Fineman added that he thinks Lieberman will get to keep his committee chairmanship.

They’re making a mistake they’re likely to regret.

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