LIEBERMAN SAVED THE STIMULUS?…. Ryan Grim had an interesting item the other day, highlighting Joe Lieberman’s role in the negotiations over the economic stimulus plan. Apparently, while it was Democrat Ben Nelson making concessions to Republicans like Susan Collins and Arlen Specter, it was Lieberman who intervened when the GOP “centrists” nearly walked away.

Indeed, Sens. Nelson, Landrieu, Reid, and Specter all credited Lieberman for making the compromise come together. Grimm reported that the bill will become law thanks to President Obama’s “decision to pardon Lieberman for the sin of campaigning for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the presidential election.”

It led Joe Klein to argue that the outcome makes Obama look pretty smart.

It seems Lieberman played a crucial role in talking several Republicans off the ledge, thereby vindicating President Obama’s refusal to be vindictive toward the Connecticut Senator…. Lieberman has always been a moderate-progressive on economic issues so his vote should not be a surprise — but his active lobbying for the bill has to be considered directly attributable to the grace with which Obama treated him. Those who wonder about the President’s efforts to be nice to Republicans — a singularly ungracious lot, cult-like in their devotion to failed economic policies past — should bear this particular example in mind as we go forward.

Perhaps. But it also speaks to the unusual reality of politics in a chamber like the Senate. As Ezra explained very well yesterday: “[I]t’s a bit weird to read senators basically saying that the largest economic recovery package in history was passed because Joe Lieberman is old friends with Arlen Specter. The possible of millions of lost jobs and years of recession wasn’t enough to convince Republicans of the need for $800 billion in new spending. But Joe Lieberman’s kind smile and warm wit? That was all the argument they needed.”

What an odd club.

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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.