In two politically shrewd bids to begin gaining support from the over 57 million Americans who voted for his opponent only weeks ago, Barack Obama backed Senator Joseph Lieberman’s proposition to retain chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and the president-elect is seriously considering the appointment of Hillary Clinton, the junior senator from New York, for the secretary of state cabinet position. The harshest criticism has not come from the Right (which battled Hillary Clinton for years) but from the Left.
Segments of Obama’s more radical supporters — mostly those who were quick to embrace the most liberal viable candidate — are not happy with his most recent political ploys. In their eyes, Lieberman betrayed the party by criticizing now President-elect Barack Obama and, even worse, by backing John McCain for president and speaking at the Republican Convention. And the possibility that Clinton will be added to the high level position of secretary of state is a far cry from Obama’s call for “Change.”
Kos, from the radically left DailyKos, called the decision to keep Lieberman as chairman of his committee “idiotic.” And, in another post, the radical Left’s standard bearer derided the Democratic Party as being “spineless capitulators” for allowing Lieberman to keep his post.
Kos’s sentiment is widespread among the Left. There is a particular feeling of betrayal, as Jane Hamsher, editor of FireDogLake, exemplifies:
The Senate Democratic caucus don’t [sic] hate Lieberman, they hate you. They hate you for having the temerity to think you could take down a sitting US Senator, or hold him accountable for his actions.
Take that, you…you…plebe.
Still, we do what we do. The number of people who want Lieberman held to account grew exponentially during the 2008 election, and those who stood up to defend him might be surprised at how much political capital they expended in doing so.
So, why would Obama insult his loyalists and support Lieberman? He must have known that the reaction would not be kind, but it’s a politically prudent move for Obama. It sends a signal that the Democratic Party has a wide umbrella, able to cover a myriad of voices. Nevertheless, building a wide and broad coalition isn’t what those on the Left want — they want to call the shots.