It was no secret that Joe Lieberman supported John McCain. But it came as a surprise Wednesday when campaign finance reports revealed that he also gave money to Gordon Smith.
Lieberman, a longtime Democratic senator from Connecticut, won re-election as an independent after losing his party primary in 2006. Ever since he's been playing both sides of the fence, caucusing with Senate Democrats but hopping into bed with the Republicans on national secutiry issues and the Iraq war.
Lieberman endorsed McCain, made a speech at the Republican National Convention, stumped with McCain and made statements questioning Barack Obama's patriotism.
In spite of all that, Senate Democrats voted 42-13 to allow Lieberman to keep the prestigious chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. It's not known whether Senator-elect Jeff Merkley was one of the 13 "no" votes. But according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday, he and Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of Utah made "symbolically important" conciliatory speeches before the vote.
However, the Post went on, "no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley's opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith. Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith's reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission."
Lieberman also give verbal and/or financial support to other Republican congressional candidates, including Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Rep. Peter Smith of New York.
"Beyond the implications for the party, the senior Congressional circuit and in fact the country, Oregonians now must mull over the idea that Holy Joe actively sought to saddle us with Gordon Smith for another six years," commented "Torrid Joe" on the Loaded Orygun blog. "Ready to kick him in the jewels yet?"
Evidently Merkley isn't; his office issued a kiss-and-make-up statement. "We were surprised to hear this news [about the Smith contribution], but it's time to put the election behind us. Jeff Merkley is looking forward to working with all his new colleagues on an agenda that will put our nation back on track," Merkley spokesperson Julie Edwards told the Post.
Well, yeah, all this kumbaya stuff is okay, we guess, but isn't there a principle at stake? The Eye might be too naïve, but if you reward a turncoat and backstabber with an important committee chairmanship, isn't that a slap in the face to everybody who's loyal to the party?
And wouldn't it have been gratifying to see our new senator at least display a little righteous indignation instead of rolling over like a puppy wanting to have his belly rubbed?