I picked the title of this post very carefully. For instance I could have said "The Walking Monkey Wrench" instead, but walking is too positive and admirable an activity to apply to the Senator from Connecticut. I also considered using "Joe Lieberman, Saboteur-in-waiting," or "The Joe Lieberman Time Bomb," but those titles would make him look like a much stronger character than he actually is. But I'm not really comfortable with what I'm using either, because a monkey wrench is a very substantial and useful tool, made of stout steel with good weight, terms that it seems to me have never applied to the likes of Lieberman.
For at least 20 years I have been baffled as to why anyone would vote for this man, and I was especially dismayed and surprised when Gore accepted him as his running mate for the 2000 elections. Lieberman seems to be entirely lacking in personality and convictions any stronger than those of a wet noodle.. Instead he strikes me as being like a person who has just awakened from a decades-long coma, and now, quavering with disorientation, he is best advised to return to his sick bed for another good little while. I didn't see how anyone would take a man in his state seriously for any post at all, yet people were ready to place this man just one step away from the U.S. Presidency. But I guess that shows the parlous and ridiculous state of politics that still exists in the supposedly advanced state of Connecticut and in the country.
As I recall, it was hoped that Lieberman would help hold the Jewish vote for the Democrats. But in a process that is still going on, that turned out to be a gross miscalcuation that could've been easily avoided if people had only devoted a few minutes to take a better look at this man, when there were so many better candidates available, and the one that comes most to my mind was and still is Jeff Bingaman, from New Mexico. The choice of Lieberman prefigured not only Gore's eventual failure but also the hijacking of the Presidency in that election by a man fully as insubstantial and ill-suited for the post as Lieberman, the eventual "victor" over Gore, G.W. Bush, and that, as we all know, has led to a long series of catastrophes for not only the U.S. but also a bunch of other countries, though that has yet to dawn on some of them.
When he was beaten in the primaries in his most recent run for Senator, at the hands of Ned Lamont, a little known but impressive progressive, I hoped that that would be the last we would hear of Lieberman. But he billed his defeat as merely a signal that he should move farther to the center, and he left the Democrats and ran instead as supposedly an Independent. But that was purely bogus, as, much earlier, Lieberman had actually moved much farther right than that. He had become a true Republican, and it would've been much more honest and better for all if he had run as such. Instead he won the election as a so-called Independent, with 70 percent of his votes coming from Republicans.
His listing in the Senate as an Independent allows the Democrats to contol the Senate by the slimmest possible margin of only one man or woman, and therein lies Lieberman's role of being the tool of my title and the dire threat that he poses directly to the Democrats and indirectly to countless others.
I have seen two different readings of what Lieberman now represents, which is not the great state of Connecticut. Neither view is attractive at all.
The first says that eventually, no matter how much the Democrats try to please him in order to keep the current status quo, Lieberman will eventually and finally show his first shred ever of integrity by shedding all the pretense and changing his party affiliation to Republican, at which point, with only that one switch needed, the Senate will instantly become Republican-controlled again -- a tragedy for the Democrats and for the U.S. and the world, but an occasion of joy for the Republicans, as their interests don't coincide with the good of the country and of the planet at all, and who better to demonstrate that, even if unconsciously, than Lieberman.
The second view predicts that by holding over the Democrats the twin hammers of his vote and of the completion of the second and final part of his defection, he will force the Democrats into allowing unpleasant events that they wouldn't otherwise consider. And they will put holding their newly regained but still tenuous majority ahead of carrying through the parts of their agenda that don't please Lieberman's good buddies, like the Fox Hannity bird, giving Lieberman power far out of proportion to his being just one among 99.
One thing that Lieberman doesn't lack is ego. So, if he overtly throws in with the Repubs, he will personally suffer the ignominy of becoming just another faceless Republican senator marching in the usual lockstep on that side of the aisle. But if he chooses to stay ostensibly "Independent," he will play the much more noticeable role of being a big monkey wrench thrown by some of the Connecticut voters into the national gears of government.
My guess is that he will choose to do the latter, especially because it could be a principal reason why he got so many Republican votes. To them any damage to the larger world, including themselves in the long run, is preferable to Democrats taking their turn as good American citizens in their right to decide things, too.