This week, the Democrats in Congress failed a test of simple decency when they confirmed Joseph Lieberman’s leadership position in the U.S. Senate and allowed him to remain within the Democratic caucus in the Senate. Senate Democrats said it was a show of “Democratic unity”, but Joseph Lieberman isn’t even a Democrat. He ran against a Democrat to get his Senate seat, as the only officially registered member of the Joseph Lieberman for Senate Party.
How was it Democratic unity for Joseph Lieberman to respond to Barack Obama’s support of him in 2006 by turning around and supporting John McCain in 2008? Was it Democratic unity when Joseph Lieberman supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 90s, but opposed the impeachment of George W. Bush? Was it Democratic unity when Lieberman supported George W. Bush’s policies against the wishes of his Democratic constituents? Unity?
Tomorrow comes another test of Democratic decency in Congress, when the House of Representatives’ Democratic caucus meets and votes on who will be the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Today, the House Democratic Steering Committee recommended that the chair be given to Henry Waxman, who has been the chair of the Reform Committee. The current chair is John Dingell.
Dingell has used his position on the Energy and Commerce Committee to to block effective energy reform for years. Dingell has been the congressional lackey of Detroit’s automotive corporations. Waxman, on the other hand, is a consistent supporter of energy efficiency. If the Democrats in the House of Representatives vote tomorrow to keep Dingell as chair, they will be making a statement that they think that GM, Ford and Chrysler have shown wise leadership and should be allowed to keep on pushing its gas hog vision of the future on the rest of America.
If the House Democrats vote for Dingell, it’s a sign that we won’t see effective energy and environmental legislation passed for the next two years.