WOULD IT HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE?…. Senate Democrats knew that Joe Lieberman had endorsed the Republican presidential candidate. And that he’d appeared at the Republican National Convention. And that he’d smeared the Democratic candidate repeatedly throughout the year. They were also well aware of the fact that he publicly endorsed and defended a variety of down-ballot Republicans before Election Day.

But did Senate Democrats realize that Lieberman also financially supported Republican congressional candidates? Apparently not.

When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.

Having ridden the wave of support for President-elect Barack Obama, Udall and Merkley spoke out in favor of the spirit of reconciliation and moving on from the campaign, in which Lieberman was one of the highest profile supporters of the Republican presidential ticket.

But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley’s opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith’s reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. […]

Lieberman’s support of Smith came the same weekend he wrote an op-ed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press defending Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) for his work as chairman of an investigative subcommittee on Lieberman’s homeland security committee. The same day he wrote a check to Smith, Lieberman’s ROC PAC gave $5,000 to Rep. Peter King, the Long Island Republican.

Call me crazy, but when a senator speaks at the Republican convention, repeats Republican talking points, endorses Republican candidates, and gives thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, the senator certainly looks like a Republican. But maybe that’s just me.

But here’s the question to consider this morning: if the Senate Democratic caucus had known about these contributions, would it have made any difference when they were voting to give Lieberman everything he asked for? Would Udall and Merkley have paused before rewarding Lieberman for contributing to the campaigns trying to defeat them?

I kind of doubt it.

Steve Benen

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.