Immediately after the election, when it began to look like the Democrats would end up just shy of the 60 member threshold needed to defeat filibusters in the Senate, President-elect Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both started making conciliatory statements towards Joe Lieberman.
Many of us were still angry over Lieberman's betrayal to the Democratic party by campaigning for McCain/Palin, going as far as to speak at the Republican National Convention. I think Joe Lieberman's actions were motivated simply out of personal interest, because he had much to gain by hitching his wagon to the McCain "Straight Talk Express" if they somehow prevailed. Perhaps a V.P. nod, almost definitely a high level cabinet position. Whatever. Lieberman knew he'd pretty much cashed in his chips with the Democrats by his relentless support of George Bush's bellicose policies, and by stubbornly refusing to accept the results of the Democratic primary in 2006 and accepting massive GOP support to fund his reelection as an independent.
So it would have surprised no one had Lieberman been stripped of his DHS Chair and unceremoniously expelled from the party following Obama's victory. Except for one thing. Suddenly, the Democrats needed him again to have a chance of hitting that magic number.
Look at the situation: Al Franken is going to defeat Norm Coleman's litigation in Minnesota, and he'll become the Democrat's 59th Senator, if they include Lieberman. So why does it matter that they include Lieberman in that total?
Because this week it appears that Barack Obama will offer the position of Commerce Secretary to New Hampshire's Republican Senator Judd Gregg, and Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a Democrat, will have the task of appointing a replacement. New Hampshire is one of those states, like Connecticut, that allows the governor to seat a replacement senator. Lynch will likely select a Democrat, and give them the super majority they want in the Senate.
This depends of course on whether Gregg will accept the position, and whether Lynch will appoint a Democrat. Gregg is under intense pressure from the GOP to retain his senate seat. And, if you remember that New Hampshire is famous for their political independence, there's no guarantee that Lynch will select a Democrat. So this can all be moot depending on what happens.
But what won't change is that because of Harry Reid's efforts to "forgive" our junior senator, we're stuck with Joe Lieberman for the next four years. If things don't work out perfectly, the Democrats will once again look weak and ineffectual, and the Republicans will be further emboldened to challenge President Obama on every single bill he supports, simply because they can.
It's a gamble. I can only hope that Obama and Reid already know what's in the cards.