IF JOE SWITCHES, HE SHOULD RESIGN
Paul Weyrich, June 10, 2001:
Let us see how many Vermonters approve of what Jim Jeffords did here. We are being told that support for him is overwhelming, but there is only one way to find that out. If Jeffords resigned and turned around and ran again in a special election as an Independent, then we would know for sure. I wouldn't mind a rule change that would make that a requirement as well. It seems to me that the people ought to have something to say about what these Senators do when their decisions, such as what Jeffords did, will effect all of us for years and years to come. But then, they only speak about doing things in the name of the people. When it comes to actually doing so they are nowhere to be found.
I heard a lot of that from Republicans after the Jeffords switch, so let me say it about Joe Lieberman's threat:
If you switch parties, Joe, you should resign and run in a special election as a Republican.
Did I think Jeffords should resign and run again? No. But the 2000 elections (in which Jeffords won his third term as senator) weren't supposed to lead to partisan warfare. Gore was expected to be a Clinton-style triangulator -- and as for Bush, we were told that he worked well with Democrats in Texas and would be a pleasant fellow and a compromiser as president. It was only after Bush got to D.C. that it became clear that he wasn't even willing to work with moderates in his own party, such as Jeffords. (Hell, he wasn't even willing to work with moderates in his own Cabinet, as Colin Powell, Paul O'Neill, and Christie Whitman learned.) So the Jeffords switch was a reaction to an unexpected set of circumstances -- a surprisingly radical, nakedly ideological presidency.
Lieberman, by contrast, was elected in a climate of total partisan war. Everyone knew that he stood with the GOP on the war, but he balanced that by promising to caucus with Democrats. That was a major promise to the voters of Connecticut, which he may be about to break, whereas Jeffords's affiliation with the GOP was incidental in 2000 to the voters who elected him.
So if Lieberman wants to be a Republican, Lieberman should quit and run as a Republican. It's the only honorable thing to do.
ALSO: David Sirota suggests that we should all hope Lieberman makes the switch, while Political Insider says that a Lieberman switch actually won't give the GOP control of the Senate. (Obsidian Wings seconds this, citing this. If it's accurate, then what the hell are we arguing about? Let him go.)