In his speech on election night, Barack Obama made it clear that change has not come just because we elected him to be our President. Only with hard work and sacrifice, he said, do we have to opportunity to create the change we seek!
I agree with that sentiment and I want to do my part to help. Really, I do! But I have a problem that makes it very difficult to focus my energy and enthusiasm toward the work of creating change.
His name is Joe Lieberman!
You see, after watching Lieberman campaign for John McCain, cheerlead for the opposing team at the GOP Convention, and essentially trash the patriotism of Barack Obama and me for supporting him, I can't forget about Lieberman. As long as Lieberman holds a plum committee chairmanship based on “seniority” in a party to which he doesn’t even belong, I can't stop thinking about what it would take to be rid of him.
I can’t stop thinking that today’s efforts to protect him from the consequences of his decision to campaign against change, are the exact opposite of the accountability I’ve been craving for the last eight years.
Clearly, I’m not the only one!
I understand that Obama wanted to avoid a messy intra-party fight in his first month as President Elect. I understand how Obama would want Lieberman to remain in the caucus as a sign of his desire to heal partisan divisions. I understand that the Senate acted today based on their understanding of what Obama wanted to happen.
However, at this point, I can’t help but view Lieberman like a large splinter in my thumb that is a bit infected and too painful to ignore. Before I'm truly ready to start the hard work of creating change, I may need to extract the splinter!
I can try to ignore it. It's not a life threatening problem, and I know it will probably work itself out if I could just put it out of my mind. But it keeps grabbing my attention and diverting my ability to focus on the work ahead. As long as it's there, nagging me, I’m afraid I won’t be able to use my hands for anything more productive than finding a way to remove the splinter!
Similarly, as long as the splinter of Joe Lieberman is heading the Homeland Security Committee as a senior member of the Democratic Caucus, whatever time and money I have to devote to politics is going to be irresistibly drawn toward finding a way to remove him, even if it takes until 2012 to do it!
This probably means that President Obama is going to have to run for re-election in four years without the benefit of my occasional $50 to $100 donations. Those will more likely end up going to whoever decides to run for the Connecticut Senate seat as an actual Democrat!
I’m sorry if I’m not quite ready to turn the page and start the hard work of changing our country and our politics. Despite my best intentions and a strong desire to extend my enthusiastic support from the campaign into Obama’s first term, I'm afraid that today’s vote means that I’m going to have to spend much of the next four years dealing with the somewhat painful and irritating distraction that is Joe Lieberman!