Lieberman wants to use his gavel

LIEBERMAN WANTS TO USE HIS GAVEL…. There were some key reasons why Senate Democrats allowed Joe Lieberman to keep his committee chairmanship — most notably, they didn’t want him caucusing with Republicans — but for those of who argued (repeatedly) that this was a bad idea, it feels like a we-told-you-so moment.

Hey, so guess who is mulling new legislation to solve the alleged problem of Obama’s “czars”? Joe Lieberman!

He may even hold hearings on the czars, as the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Since this will confer legitimacy on an attack that has mostly emanated from Glenn Beck and the hothouse right, it could prompt an “I told you so” chorus from those who argued that Lieberman should be stripped of his committee slots.

Leslie Phillips, a spokesperson for Lieberman’s committee, confirms by email that Lieberman’s legislation is “in the early conceptual stage.” She also said a hearing is in the works, with its schedule up the air until the committee can nail down witnesses.

Look, I know the right is all worked up about “czars,” but there’s already been one pointless hearing on the “issue.” The Judiciary Committee called together a bunch of experts, all of whom testified to what we already knew — there’s nothing problematic about the president’s team of advisors. Why hold another hearing, unless the goal is to validate the paranoid fears of right-wing activists?

But this is especially galling in light of Lieberman’s record as head of the Senate committee on government affairs. In 2006, when running for re-election, Lieberman vowed to voters that he would use his committee chairmanship to hold the Bush administration accountable.

After the election, he changed his mind. Over the course of the entire 110th Congress (spanning 2006 and 2007), Lieberman’s most notable accomplishment with this committee had to do with seating arrangements. I mean that literally — Lieberman made it so that senators sit D-R-D-R-D, instead of Dems on one side and Republicans on the other. Other than this, the committee has precious little to show for the entire 110th Congress.

Despite the Bush/Cheney administration being among the most scandal-plagued in generations, Lieberman, who had oversight responsibilities, “conducted zero proactive investigations into Bush administration malfeasance.” Instead of a Senate Committee on Government Affairs that functioned as it should, Lieberman just treaded water, using his gavel as a flotation device. It was an embarrassing waste of what’s supposed to be the Senate’s watchdog committee, when the nation desperately needed lawmakers to hold Bush accountable.

But nine months into a Democratic administration, Lieberman has rediscovered his interest in oversight. Bush had three dozen “czars,” but Lieberman didn’t care. There’s already been one pointless hearing on “czars,” but Lieberman doesn’t care.

This is, of course, exactly what Lieberman’s detractors predicted would happen.