Some good news:
Ted Stevens has officially been flushed! That brings us to 58 seats, with 2 races still undecided.
Some, uh, not as good news: Lieberman will keep his Chairmanship
It was inconceivable that if Obama won in a veritable landslide, while the Senate Democratic caucus grew by (at least) six seats, that Lieberman would not only get off scot-free, but would also be in a position to dictate to Democrats, without any leverage at all, which outcomes he found "unacceptable." If someone had predicted this scenario to me a month ago, I could have found it ridiculous. And yet, here we are.
Josh Marshall had a post back in June explaining, even before some of Lieberman's most outrageous conduct, that Lieberman was burning bridges that couldn't be rebuilt. "My assumption is that after the November election, regardless of the outcome of the presidential campaign, Joe will be stripped of his chairmanship," Josh said. I agreed wholeheartedly at the time. It was a no-brainer.
Except, it wasn't. Lieberman knows Senate Democrats better than Democratic voters do. My friend Matt told me via email yesterday, "If Lieberman ends up keeping his gavel on Homeland Security, I think we need to stop for a moment and recognize him as the smartest politician in Washington. He will have correctly made a bet about the fortitude of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and he will have been right, against all apparent odds."
This is a decision, I suspect, that the caucus will regret in the not-too-distant future. It's predicated on the assumption that Lieberman really is a Democrat at heart.
Also on the chairmanship front: Henry Waxman is challenging John Dingell for chairman of energy and commerce committee. Klein explains why this is actually a really big deal.
Short version: Dingell, who represents Detroit, is a crucial roadblock to reforms aimed at confronting global warming.
More racism: here and here.
I hope these incidents die down. It's something to keep an eye on though.
Obama Admin not planning on charging war criminals, torturers, etc.
I'm not happy about this, but, you know, I get it. From a political standpoint it makes sense to use your political capital towards fulfilling campaign promises rather than sorting through the Bush Admin's crimes. But what I can't stand is to read or hear rationalizations as to why this is "the right thing to do." It's not. It's cold, political calculation. Now maybe we don't want a President who "always does the right thing." Perhaps that's what Carter was, and that's why he was an unsuccessful President. But let's not try to dress this up. Innocent people were brutalized and even killed, and there will be no consequences for the people responsible.
This is a big mistake. It is enormously important that we establish the principle that members of the government cannot break the law with impunity, and we cannot do that without being willing to prosecute them when, as in this case, there is overwhelming evidence that they violated the law. This is especially true of the most senior members of government, like the Vice President.
That said, I can easily see why Obama might not want to do this. The problem isn't just that it would be bad for him to be seen as carrying out a partisan witch hunt; it would also be bad for the law, and for these prosecutions, if they were seen as a partisan witch hunt.
Altogether too many people believe that the laws do not apply to people in power. This is always a dangerous thing for people to think in a democracy; it is especially dangerous since some of the people who believe this are in power now, and others might attain power in the future. It is very, very important that this belief be wrong.
Obama sent a video message to the Governors Global Climate Summit in which he reaffirms his commitment to confront global warming:
I really appreciate these signals that the promises he made on the campaign trail weren't just talk.
This was a new concept for me:
The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called "burrowing" by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.
The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits.
You can be sure these people will create problems for Obama and the Dems in general in the future.
There's a lot of talk about appointments (none of these are official):
Eric Holder for Attorney General. (Sounds like a great choice!)
Peter Orszag for Budget Director.
Robert Gates to stay as Sec of Defense.
Max Cleland for either Sec. of Veteran Affairs or Sec. of the Army.
Richard Holbrooke also wants the SoS position. Judging from this article he sounds like a really bad choice.
Inside the vetting of the Clintons
Hillary: team player (well, let's hope!)
Since we keep hearing about it, here's a contrary view on Lincoln's "Team of Rivals:"
Lincoln was a political genius, but his model for Cabinet-building should stand more as a cautionary tale than as a leadership manual.
The "Year of the Woman" didn't work out so well.
Ann Friedman has me pegged!:
The valiant defenders of the place of white men in the Democratic Party are worried, once again, that women, people of color, and gay folks will screw it all up for them.
More seriously, I guess this is the argument for identity politics:
People who have traditionally been cut off from the highest avenues of power are well within their rights -- and, I'd argue, responsibilities -- to demand a seat at the table, before appointments have been made. I'm not going to retread the arguments for why diversity is important. I will say, however, that there is rarely the right person for any given position -- most jobs could be done competently by any number of people, and some of those people are no doubt women and people of color.
But what if Chait is right, and some tough conversations about race, gender, and privilege are enough to kill the current coalition? Well, then it was never very strong to begin with, and we don't have to mourn very much. A healthy Democratic coalition is not one in which women and queers and people of color are told to sit down and shut up.
Yes, there would be no need to mourn if our coalition disintegrated and we were unable to confront global warming, fix the economy, get out of iraq, create a new energy policy, etc., etc.
Which actually reminds me of something Chait said:
To the identity politics left, diversity at the top is not just a bonus but the central point of politics.
Bill Ayers speaks.
The Boston Globe considers what another Depression in this day and age would actually look like.
Simon Rosenberg sees a long road ahead of the GOP.
The estimate has quadrupled: FOUR million for the inauguration?
The day in 100 seconds: