August 1st, 2007

Big Joe Runs Through Bruce Banner Routine Once More With THE HILL, But Hints More Broadly at Inevitable Coming of The Hulk

by Philip Baruth

Asked in a new interview with The Hill whether he has any plans to leave the Democratic Party, thereby throwing control to the Republican minority, Joe Lieberman was resolute — taking two stands, and sticking to them both.

big joe

First Big Joe offered his now-standard formulation: “I have no interest or desire in doing that. I wouldn’t foreclose it as a possibility, but I hope that I don’t reach that point.”

We know: there’s an odd detachment to it, like Bruce Banner outlining the circumstances under which he might become the Hulk.

But the phrasing serves its purpose as boilerplate, which is to make it clear that as long as Lieberman is given every single thing he desires, he’ll be happy to continue merely taunting and belittling Democrats rather than actually depriving them of their majority status.

But in this interview, as in most others, there comes that madcap moment when Big Joe just can’t stick with the script, when his heart takes him to that place his lips say he has no interest in going:

The Hill: What would drive you over to that point?

Lieberman: Well, I guess I’d know it. It’s like Justice [Potter] Stewart and his definition of obscenity: he couldn’t define it but he’d know when he saw it. I think I’ll know it when I feel it, but I hope I never get to that point.

Let’s face linguistic facts: “I think I’ll know it when I feel it” is a way of expressing limited certainty about a future event, not relative skepticism.

It’s the truest moment in the entire preening little performance, and it makes amply clear the way in which Lieberman would/will exit the Democratic Party: by declaring that its policies in Iraq amount to obscenity, an offense against Big Joe’s much-vaunted “values.”

Some timing issues to ponder:

1) Lieberman’s “endangered species” status will come to an end following the 2008 elections, more than likely. Given the differential in open seats between the two major parties, Democrats look all but certain to expand their razor-thin margin in the Senate.

At which point, Big Joe will pay the piper for the repeated slaps in the face of the Democratic leadership, no matter what they may promise him before November.

2) Switching parties (or agreeing to caucus with the Republicans) in the run-up to the Republican national convention, on the other hand, would maximize the impact of such a move in a way that must make Lieberman salivate.

Forget Zell Miller.

Joe Lieberman has the opportunity to become the hottest commodity among Republican audiences behind the actual Presidential candidate himself. Timed properly, it would certainly put Lieberman on the VP short list of every GOP candidate. Not seriously, of course, but they would all make a show of admiring his bravery, and fortitude, and true grit.

And should one of them win, Joe could count on a very plum position in the next Administration, something he will never get from a Democrat, not after the events of the last six months.

In other words, Lieberman can maintain his current position for 18 more months, after which time he will lose power on a daily basis; or he can opt for Red-state rock-star status, in a way that would also allow Republicans to control the agenda going into the next election cycle.

Current Odds Big Joe Jumps: 54%, very slightly more likely than not.


Of course, the thing is that it doesn’t matter in the least here at VDB, because we don’t like Lieberman as a Democrat every bit as much as we will not like him as a Republican.

Our dislike is such that nothing Big Joe does can alter it in the slightest.

Because when you think about it, Bruce Banner is every bit as reprehensible as the Hulk itself: he should put himself away in a padded room when the fit finally passes, to save the lives of those around him, but he fails to do so.

Every single time.