Nov 15, 2006

Big Man in Congress

Joe Lieberman.
[I]t is hard to imagine how Mr. Lieberman could have emerged better from last week’s election. He was re-elected comfortably, and the Democratic Party he still belongs to is now in the majority, assuring him the chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee.

Yet that majority is slim enough, 51 to 49, to turn Mr. Lieberman into arguably the Senate’s most influential member. If he defects, the Senate would effectively be under Republican control because Vice President Dick Cheney would cast tie-breaking votes.

“It was very painful to him to have all these people he thought were his friends embrace his opponent,” Ms. Collins said. “They just threw him overboard. But now, not only is he re-elected resoundingly, but he is also the key to which party controls the Senate.”

Mr. Lieberman’s situation underscores the precarious calculus of political friendships. People close to him say he remains miffed, if not bitter, about what he considers the betrayal of allies who supported an unknown, untested and unfamiliar candidate.

In recent months, Mr. Lieberman has frequently invoked the Harry Truman maxim that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

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