On the subject of the new Senate "majority"

Cnn.com lists that there are 51 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 0 Independents in their page summary. Yet, they correctly list that Connecticut went to Liebermann, who although formerly a Democrat, did not tend to vote with that party and ran as an Independent. The new Senator from Vermont is also correctly listed as an Independent; unlike Liebermann, Bernie takes great pride in being an Independent, and has been so since the beginning of his political career. His politics are definitely liberal, so there is that going for him.

I’m quite happy that the Senate power structure has shifted along with the House’s, but let’s not celebrate something we didn’t gain here: If we’re going to consider past party affiliations, we can count Liebermann as a D but not Bernie; if we’re going to consider voting records, we can count Bernie as a D but not Liebermann. If we take the one thing they have in common – religion – and apply that, then we’d have to also knock Norm Coleman (R, Minnesota) off of the Republican roster, too. But that’d be just silly.

There’s an inconsistent coloring of the facts going on here. We have 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 2 Independents in the Senate. We also have a Republican chair with the tying vote. Given the voting records of the 2 Independents, which I consider to be far more telling than party affiliation, I don’t think the Democrats quite have the majority we’re being led to think they have.

The simple statement “the independents will caucus with the Democrats” should answer your questions. That’s what I’ve heard the pundits say quite often.

They will caucus with the Democrats, which gives the Democrats control in terms of making commitee appointments and controlling the legislative agenda. That’s the real power.

a) independents will caucus for the democrats. So for the purposes of deciding who gets committee chairs, etc - they’re democrats.
b) Saying Lieberman doesn’t vote with the Democrats is pure nuts. About the only issue he doesn’t agree with the Dems on is the War in Iraq. Everything else he’s a crazy liberal.

Yes, there is an echo in heah…

Control of the Senate isn’t just about votes. The majority party chairs the committees and sets the Senate’s agenda.

That said, given the results of this election, I think even the Republican Senators are going to think twice before casting all their votes down party lines. These guys know which way the wind blows, and a lot of them (including a fair share of Republican seats that are less safe than some of those that lost this election) are thinking about 2008.

If the wind keeps blowing that way, then merely being a Republican will outshine whatever change in heart they have. What’s more, they’ll suddenly find themselves cut off from the GOP coffers for their next campaign if they don’t toe the line.

If there still is a line to toe…

You are smoking crack. Name one thing (other than the war, which lots of Dems voted for) that Lieberman didn’t vote along Democrat lines.

As I’ve said a million times on P&R, Lieberman is very much a democrat. He got into hot water with the Democrat “base” over the war (and his really ill-advised rhetoric on that topic) but on everything else he was pretty damned true-blue.

And, yeah, Lieberman’s gonna play ball with the Democrats. He knows where his future campaign funding is coming from, where he’s gonna get the choice committee seats from, etc. He’s the prodigal son, just you watch.

The Senate can also block appointments. They’re already homing in on John Bolton, and Bush will have a tough road trying to push his judiciary selections, unless their records are squeaky clean.

Losing the primary meant that Liebermann couldn’t run as the Democratic candidate. Now that thats over I don’t think there is anything preventing Liebermann from changing his party id. So as long as he says he’s a Democrat and the Democratic leadership says he is one. He’s a Democrat. And Sanders sits on the left side of the Democrats politicaly.

Liebermans shtick is the reluctant democrat who bemoans the parties stand on issues x,y,z. It only works if he is (at some point) a Democrat.

That’s assuming that “the line” equals the Bush administration agenda. I think you are going to see the GOP distancing itself from Bush and his policies over the next two years. Bush isn’t the keeper of the GOP coffers.

Won’t Bolton be approved before the Senate changes hands?

Not likely

Not likely.

That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. Sure, Chafee is on his way out anyway, but I think a lot of the sitting Senators (especially those whose seats are up in 2008) having to be thinking the same thing that Chafee said to the AP:

At this point, I don’t think the Republicans have a lot to lose by lending some support to the Democrats, at least on some key issues like Iraq. If they don’t, then the Democrats are going to paint them as the party that refuses to listen to the will of the people when the 2008 election rolls around.

Or maybe they think Bush is the reason they lost, and now it’s time for a month or two of payback?

I’m sure the Repubs are very excited to help out Mr. 31% on their way out…