Lieberman decision pits Dean against liberal blogosphere

The outgoing DNC chair says he's "fine" with the vote regarding Joe Lieberman because the result is what President-elect Barack Obama wanted.

Published November 18, 2008 11:25PM (EST)

It's no secret that most of the liberal blogosphere loves Howard Dean and loathes Joe Lieberman. So it's interesting to see how progressive bloggers have responded to the news that Dean  supports Senate Democrats' decision to give Lieberman a slap on the wrist for his efforts on behalf of John McCain and other Republicans over the past year.

Responding to the news that Senate Democrats voted 42-13 to allow Lieberman to keep his position as Homeland Security chairman, Dean told Greg Sargent of TPMElection Central that he's "fine" with the outcome, saying that the senators only did what President-elect Barack Obama wanted them to.

Obama "called the shots, and that's fine," Dean said, adding that the vote to support Lieberman came from "the spirit of unification, which is what the President-elect wanted... It's pretty hard to run the country based on, 'We're all working together,' if your first act is to strip someone who was your political enemy...of power."

In a separate call with some leading progressive bloggers, Dean admitted that he does not know if Lieberman is qualified to chair the Homeland Security committee. "I was too busy trying to figure out how to win the election. [But] I certainly hope [the Democratic Senators] did look at his record," Dean said.

During that conference call, FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher laid into Dean, saying:

With all due respect, Governor Dean, we were all just told to go screw ourselves.  That our concern for Barack Obama and that our concern about the war and everything else that we fought so hard for within the Democratic Party is meaningless.

And that Joe being happy, and giving into his threats -- and he did threaten the Democrats in his press conference -- is more important than we are.  And so I don't think it was a matter of "reconciliation," I think it was...we were told to go Cheney ourselves.  And I think that that really is the sentiment online.

Another blogger, Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, expressed some enthusiasm for the fact that 13 Senators were willing to vote against Obama's wishes. Stoller wrote, "Hopefully we can get the 13 Senators who voted no on Lieberman to come out publicly so we can praise them." But he also sounded a little disappointed with the former governor of Vermont, writing, "Howard Dean recite[d] Obama's talking points about Lieberman."

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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Barack Obama Howard Dean Joe Lieberman War Room