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The Ballad of Holy Joe

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As Duncan also observed, in addition to the litany of other negative things that can be said about him Joe Lieberman is almost comically unqualified and unfit to be head of the FBI:

Lieberman lacks the conventional qualifications for an FBI director, never having served as a law enforcement agent or federal prosecutor. He lacks the kind of administrative experience that one normally looks for in an agency chief. At the age of 75, he’s also very much on the old side for a 10-year appointment. But “Trump bonded with Lieberman” at their meeting on Wednesday, according to Politico, and though personal rapport between the president and the FBI director has not traditionally been considered necessary or even desirable, Trump enjoys breaking with tradition.

Since leaving the Senate, Lieberman has landed as an attorney as Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, whose founding partner Marc Kasowitz happens to be Donald Trump’s lawyer on litigation matters.

For the president to fire the FBI director in an effort to stymie an investigation into his associates, and then replace him with an unqualified successor who happens to be an employee of his personal lawyer, seems a wee bit fishy to me; indeed, Politico quotes a senior Democratic aide as saying it “could be an issue for Democrats.” Another issue for Lieberman will be that grassroots progressive activists hate his guts and have for years.

It goes without saying that anyone who would take this job under these circumstances is not fit to have it. But tying himself to Trump would be an even fitter cap to Lieberman’s career than his decision to torpedo the Medicare buy-in he had previously supported for the sole purpose of pissing off liberals.

Our younger readers may not remember just how besotted the national media was with Joe Lieberman. His self-serving sanctimoniousness was celebrated, like the cut-and-paste virtue jobs assembled by Gamblin’ Bill Bennett. Putting the smarmy prick on the ticket earned Al Gore basically the only positive press coverage he got during the 2000 campaign. And outside of Connecticut, 2004 demonstrated that the media was pretty much his only constituency. One would hope that this would take most of the varnish off, but on the other hand as Paul Ryan demonstrates some pols can survive anything. I’m sure that for the Fourniers and Haperins of the world Donald Trump will become president for the seventh time if he tabs Lieberman.

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  • AMK

    Would be fitting for Ol Joe if Trump is Romneying him–Mitt was the frontrunner at State until he wasn’t.

    It’s interesting how (until now, maybe) having relevant experience mattered at the FBI. The CIA Directors have all been ex-politicians–I’m guessing because CIA has no domestic jurisdiction, so abuse of power doesn’t matter.

    It’s also interesting that UberLikudnik Joe emerged as the frontrunner from nowhere for a top security post a day after Trump very publicly screwed Israel over. The GOP is (a) facing major midterm headwinds regardless of what happens and (b) depends to a stupefying degree on huge checks from quasi-foreign collaborators who were meddling in our elections when Putin was banging cheerleaders. Just an observation.

    • DocAmazing

      I would pay real US dollars to see the Annoying Orange give Holy Joe the high hat he handed Rmoney.

    • To be completely accurate, Holy Joe was Attorney General of Connecticut for 6 years. The prosecutorial authority in Ct is separate, but the AG oversees the state police. And of course the FBI director has no prosecutorial authority either. So in fact he does have relevant law enforcement experience, although you might not think it’s enough. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves here.

      • efgoldman

        We don’t want to embarrass ourselves here.

        Written about the country that has Apricot Asswipe in all his pig-ignorant glory as “chief executive”

      • twbb

        Yep. Joe is bad, not lacking in relevant experience. Though LGM is the place where I have seen on multiple times the statement that Hillary was the most qualified Presidential candidate ever, which is completely false.*

        * I like Hillary. I voted for Hillary. Hillary was well-qualified in terms of experience to be President.

    • humanoid.panda

      It’s also interesting that UberLikudnik Joe emerged as the frontrunner from nowhere for a top security post a day after Trump very publicly screwed Israel over. The GOP is (a) facing major midterm headwinds regardless of what happens and (b) depends to a stupefying degree on huge checks from quasi-foreign collaborators who were meddling in our elections when Putin was banging cheerleaders. Just an observation.

      1. Could you explain how the nefarious Zionist entity benefits from having its agents at the FBI? I mean, if it wants to extract it pound of flesh from gentiles, why not something more relevant, like the CIA or NSA?
      2. What, exactly, is a “quasi-foreigner”? Please give some examples.

      • ExpatJK

        1) Wait, the PerfidiousZionistEntity DOESN’T already run everything?

        2) SOROS SOROS SOROS….something

        *sarcasm*

      • Colin Day

        Is Sheldon Adelson quasi-foreign in the sense of having businesses in other countries?

        • Thom

          And living in Las Vegas?

          • humanoid.panda

            The funny thing about Adelson is that no, matter how big the impact of that human-shaped toad on American politics is, it is but a pale shadow of his total domination of Israeli politics. I once did back of the envelope calculation and found that the money he lost running his propaganda sheet for Bibi is greater than the sum total of political expenditures in Israel for a decade – and still not much more than loose change for him.

            • Domino

              Where did you look up how much money he has spent in Israeli politics?

              • humanoid.panda

                Haaretz reported that Israel Hayom, his newpaper, lost 750 million shekels (about 200 million dollars) ,since it was founded. That just the losses, not the entire operating expenditure, and doesn’t include direct and indirect donations to Bibi, his campaign, and various settler organizations.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        I believe “quasi foreigner” is a vaguely more polite, 21st-century way of saying “rootless cosmopolitan.”

      • AMK

        1. Because the FBI is the lead agency on counterintelligence.
        2. An American who sees America and American interests primarily through the prism of rightist Israeli politics and its fellow travelers. Chait has a working definition this morning (worthwhile to read the whole article).

        His unrelenting defense of the Iraq war, not only at the outset but through the bungled occupation, when most Democrats who had supported the invasion acknowledged error, made him the target of a liberal primary challenge in 2006. Lieberman lost his primary and ran an independent campaign. In 2008, he endorsed John McCain for president. Lieberman’s speech at the Republican National Convention that summer dismissed Barack Obama as too partisan and too unprepared to take office, while heartily endorsing Sarah Palin as well qualified and eager to reach across the aisle. Palin, he said, “reached across party lines to get things done. The truth is, she is a leader we can count on …”

        That analysis has not worn well with time. But it indicated an anger with liberals, and a comfort with the right, that has increasingly defined Lieberman’s career since then. While Democrats eagerly welcomed him back in 2009 — and he mostly cooperated with Obama’s domestic agenda — Lieberman has continued his rightward trajectory. Tellingly, he has embraced positions that make even many Republicans uncomfortable. Lieberman attacked the construction of a Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan that became the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories. He railed against the nuclear deal with Iran, which Republican senators like Bob Corker tried to gently compromise over.

        And while the Republican Establishment greeted Trump with almost uniform private revulsion, with a handful of Republicans bold enough to split from him publicly, Lieberman has steered clear of frontal criticism. He praised Michael Flynn’s team of conspiracy theorists, who even other members of the Trump administration considered dangerous. He testified on behalf of lightweight, evidence-discarding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearing. DeVos was ultimately opposed by every Democratic senator, along with two Republicans.

        Lieberman is famous for his career in Democratic politics — a party he has since left to reregister as an independent — which insulates him from charges of Republican partisanship. But his trajectory provides a better indicator of his current mind than does his overall body of work. The 75-year-old Lieberman is a politician deeply comfortable with elements of the Republican Party at which even many Republicans blanch.

    • CP

      Would be fitting for Ol Joe if Trump is Romneying him–Mitt was the frontrunner at State until he wasn’t.

      That’s my hope – whatever one can say about Trump, I was delighted to see him put Mittens through that. I doubt that’ll happen here, though. AFAIK, Lieberman has done nothing to offend Trump, and Trump’s circus with Romney was 100% revenge for campaigning against him in the primary.

      • twbb

        Really? Romney’s pandering to the right in 2012 was distasteful, but he doesn’t even break the top 200 worst living Republican politicians.

        • CP

          Given the state of the party, he could be better than the 2,000 worst living Republican politicians and still be a pretty objectively loathsome character. And given that he’s much more prominent than most…

          ETA: YMMV, but just for the 47% speech alone, I don’t know how anyone can not take pleasure in any event that lands him with egg all over his face.

          • so-in-so

            Plus the hair cutting incident, plus the dog on the roof incident.

            Shall we consider the whole vulture capitalist thing?

            I mean, if the choice is between humiliating Romney and humiliating Drumpf I’m totaling going for wrecking the current occupier of the WH. That isn’t the option in this scenario.

            • CP

              Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, Romney is what Trump would be if Trump weren’t completely demented. A piece of shit whose greatest accomplishment in life was being born to the right family and who for his entire life has mistaken that accident of birth for a sign that he was actually skilled and talented and special. Also peppers his public speeches with horrifically tone-deaf and myopically self-centered anecdotes. That “while others were serving in Vietnam, I was serving as a missionary in France, which is totally the same thing!” isn’t very different from Trump comparing every bad thing in history to the way the media treats him.

              And, of course, they’re both vulture capitalists who’ve made a career out of leaving a whole bunch of pain behind them without producing a whole lot that actually helped society.

        • Domino

          Romney will end up not being on the list by virtue of not being in Congress while Trump is president.

          Thinking on it – the Democratic party would be in a serious hole if the Republican establishment realized Jeb! was a pushover and convinced Mitt to run again. We would realistically be looking at a Mitt presidency, the same issues re: Senate races in 2018, only with an administration that wasn’t completely incompetent.

          • so-in-so

            Are you asserting that Mitt would have totally wupped Manhattan Mugabe in the primary? I don’t see it.

        • Rob in CT

          I thought it was simultaneously sickening (Trump’s behavior) and delicious (hahaha, Romney you fool).

    • Hogan

      It’s hard to know where in the literal/metaphorical matrix to place a remark about Putin banging someone.

      • so-in-so

        Also, do they HAVE “cheerleaders” in Russia?

  • keta

    Bipartisan senatorial comity is one of those weird Washington dynamics that makes most of us scratch our heads. The Senate can be downright clubby, and their shared antipathy for syphilitic sore Ted Cruz is both an indicator and an exception.

    I can see Lieberman being approved, and I can absolutely see Trump putting him forward, especially given Joe the Toad is so wholly unqualified for the position.

    • DiTurno

      Agree completely with the first paragraph, but Lieberman’s not in the Senate anymore. Also, Jeff Sessions — a sitting Senator — was opposed by every Dem except Manchin.

      My guess is that Trump won’t go with Holy Joe anyway, although I won’t put any money on that.

      • NonyNony

        Betting on Trump’s actions is a mug’s game.

        Trump’s actions almost look like they’re created by a random number generator. He’s our first Stochastic President.

  • LosGatosCA

    Trump needs to draw a mark (unqualified loser) that the Senate will confirm with some Democratic votes.

    It’s not a long shot. Personally, I think it would be just so ‘Joe’ to have the admitted p***y grabber as the boss of him when he was so ridiculous about Clinton.

    • John Revolta

      Well, I can’t see him being confirmed, given his current job, but who the Hell knows anymore?

      OTOH, I’d enjoy watching him spend his golden years with Trump breathing down his neck and everybody who works under him hating his guts. Sounds like fun!

      • LosGatosCA

        Joe won’t do a thing if confirmed. Just occupy the space a qualified person should have.

        My guess the lifers would treat him like a mushroom.

        • twbb

          Yep, pretty much.

        • CP

          My guess the lifers would treat him like a mushroom.

          He’ll probably be fine with that. He lives for the cameras, not for actual work. All the FBI career guys need to do is feed him enough information that he doesn’t embarass himself on public television, and let him claim credit for whatever wins come their way.

      • efgoldman

        I can’t see him being confirmed, given his current job, but who the Hell knows anymore?

        If he is, in fact, the choice, it’s up to Yertle McTurtle whether he gets confirmed. If Yertle wants to badly enough, he’ll push it thru the same as he did with the hideous cabinet choices.

      • twbb

        “OTOH, I’d enjoy watching him spend his golden years with Trump breathing down his neck and everybody who works under him hating his guts. Sounds like fun!”

        Right, I don’t know why anyone who dislikes Joe Lieberman is angry about this. If there’s a bigger political punishment than working for Trump, I can’t think of it.

    • LF

      I think your last point is spot on. This would be SUCH a Lieberman thing to do.

      • waspuppet

        Yup:

        1) Has nothing better to do;
        2) No one actually qualified for the job would take it under these circumstances;
        (and the most important two factors …)
        3) Vain enough to think he could be independent
        4) Stupid enough to follow Trump’s orders to the letter and still think he was being independent.

        He’s perfect.

        • CP

          3) Vain enough to think he could be independent
          4) Stupid enough to follow Trump’s orders to the letter and still think he was being independent.

          This perfectly sums up not just Joe Lieberman, but the entire Official Washington mindset (to which he took like a fish to water) of what “centrist,” “moderate,” “independent” and “maverick” are supposed to mean.

        • random

          5) Vindictive enough to inflict harm on regular Americans just to get back at those Democrats.

  • Alex.S

    At some points, I wonder what the FBI agents think of the Republican party treating their organization as a toy that they can play “cute” political games with.

    On the other hand, the previous FBI director treated the FBI as a platform where he could play “cute” political games.

    ———–

    If the Republican party wanted to treat the FBI as a serious investigative agency charged with enforcing federal laws, they would be calling for Sally Yates.

    Instead, it’s a game that they’re playing with the media with a partisan appointment, but pretending that a “Democrat” (whose last political action was endorsing a Republican) would obviously be acceptable.

    They even threw out Merrick Garland earlier, just to show the world that it’s all a big joke to them.

    Fucking assholes.

    • LosGatosCA

      I wonder what the FBI agents think of the Republican party treating their organization as a toy that they can play “cute” political games with.

      Probably the same effect on their thinking that it has on military veterans when the VA becomes a political football, or when they are retained past the end of their duty, or over-rotated into ineffectually planned theaters of war, etc.

      The cult is too strong.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Exactly this.

      • twbb

        Yep.

  • LF

    Apparently Senate Democrats are saying “no thanks!”

    Way back in 2004 or 2005, I ate dinner at the table next to Lieberman and his family at the Austin Grill in Bethesda, MD. It took all of my self control to not call him a smug asshole right then and there.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/18/joe-lieberman-fbi-director-senate-democrats-238570

    • Judas Peckerwood

      You’re a much better man/woman/nonbinary person than I.

      • DAS

        I think I spend too much time dealing with computers. The first thought that came to my mind when I read “nonbinary person” was “someone who loathes machine language”.

        • cleek

          i only think in hex, like a normal person. binaries are just too wordy.

          • Woodrowfan

            hex? so, you’re witch???

            • rea

              We’re all ‘wiches–didn’t we settle that in the other thread?

          • Colin Day

            Wouldn’t binaries be too digity?

          • Ramon A. Clef

            i only think in hex, like a normal person.

            Me, too, which is why I’ve been telling people that I recently turned 32.

    • joejoejoe

      Joe Lieberman came into the Ranch House Hot Dog Stand on the Windsor end of Hartford when I was getting a chili dog in 1990-91. He was with a bunch of CT print and radio reporters. He came up to me to like a celebrity and I should be happy to see him while I was standing in line. I was 21 or 22 at the time and home on college break. I said “It must be tough to represent everybody in the state with such extremes of wealth and poverty (Hartford and Bridgeport are 2 of the poorest cities in the country). How do you do that?” I wasn’t trying to be smart. I was dumb enough to think politicians wanted to talk politics at the time. The reporters all jammed their recorders in his face (I don’t think his celebrity flesh pressing tour was generating much news) and then Lieberman mumbled “Uh..yeah” and went back to talking about hot dogs. The reporters groaned and got in line for their own hot dogs. Joe Lieberman has always been vaporware. He’s the emptiest of empty suits, concerned only with ego and his own career. He’s a perfect fit for Trump. Ranch House chili dogs are great. Lieberman is garbage.

      • Ranch House chili dogs are great.

        But are they sandwiches?

        • rea

          And do you put ranch dressing on them?

          • joejoejoe

            It’s ranch as in cowboy ranch. Because Hartford is know for their cowboy hot dog tradition. Also, nobody wants to eat at Insurance Dogs or whatever.

      • Murc

        The wince-inducing part of that anecdote is you asked a massively generic question that Lieberman ought to have had a massively generic response ready for. That’s politics 101.

        I mean, Lieberman isn’t “vaporware.” You generally don’t get as far as he did in politics without having genuine political skill, especially since he comes from humble roots and didn’t have, say, the Bush Crime Family enabling him to fail upwards for decades. But that doesn’t mean he had any kind of agenda beyond careerism.

        • CP

          The wince-inducing part of that anecdote is you asked a massively generic question that Lieberman ought to have had a massively generic response ready for. That’s politics 101.

          Exactly.

          The more I see/hear about these kinds of anecdotes, the more I tend to find them a reliable illustration of what the politicians are actually worth. Another one like this is that one Mitt Romney encounter in 2008 with a guy in need of medical marijuana – where he just awkwardly listens for thirty seconds and then interrupts like “uhhh… I have to go… Over there.” Compare that with Obama getting that uncomfortable question about whether he supported income redistribution, where he still had the courtesy and the ability to give the voter a coherent answer, even if it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

          I mean, if you’re a politician but can’t even handle something as elementary as talking to voters, what the fuck good are you? That’s like being a mathematician and not knowing how to add and subtract.

  • Warren Terra

    All anyone needs to know about Joe Lieberman is that, when he’d lost the Democratic Party’s primary seeking re-election to the Senate and decided to create a third party to get his name on the ballot, and could have named that party anything, he named it “Connecticut For Lieberman”, even though merely reversing the order and naming it “Lieberman For Connecticut” would have been far less obnoxious.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Hey, Surly only looks out for one guy … Surly!

  • Morse Code for J

    Trump’s not going to pick anyone whom he thinks an even-handed facilitator of investigations against the White House.

    I hope the Democrats are brutal to him in his confirmation hearing.

    • CrunchyFrog

      If ever there was a time when they might try to find a way to avoid a hearing, this would be it.

      I doubt it would happen, but I’ve seen so many traditions tossed out in the drive to authoritarianism that I wouldn’t be shocked if McConnell found a way to do it. The thing is, we can be sure the media would treat this as nothing out of the ordinary and find some strange event from 1884 to claim that there is a precedent and both sides do it.

      • Morse Code for J

        I don’t see the juice being worth the squeeze. You have a confirmation hearing, it’s a one- or two-day story at most. Even attempting to skip the hearing will make it a much bigger deal than just having it.

        • Pseudonym

          He decided that Merrick Garland didn’t need a hearing, and that didn’t seem to hurt the GOP at all.

          • Morse Code for J

            True, but they didn’t then install Garland on the Court without it.

        • NonyNony

          At any point Ryan and McConnell can call a recess and let Trump do some recess appointments that they don’t need to confirm.

          Sure it’s short-term, but if they really want to keep Trump’s choices out of the public eye and avoid hearings, it would be the easiest route to take.

  • CrunchyFrog

    …and though personal rapport between the president and the FBI director has not traditionally been considered necessary or even desirable, Trump enjoys breaking with tradition.

    God … the freaking US political media … even Vox can’t help it … instead of ending the sentence honestly they resort to a euphemistic cover-up. Hey Vox: you know who else “enjoyed breaking with tradition”?

    And outside of Connecticut, 2004 demonstrated that the media was pretty much his only constituency.

    Not quite. He also appealed to Brooksian GOP voters who wanted to feel like rational centrists. They could use Holy Joe as an example of their kind of Democrat – the sort they’d vote for.

    Look, I use the disparaging term Lieberdem a lot. I’m not the only one who does. Everyone knows what the term means, including Republicans. He’s not only a career GOP loyalist in Democratic clothing, by the end of his career everyone recognized it. He was first elected to office having been hand picked by right wing powers to knock of liberal GOP Senator Lowell Weicker – in 1988 there was no wingnut radio, no internet, no Fox, so you couldn’t rally the wingnuts to primary a GOP Senator from the right, so they got him with a pretend Democrat. In 2000 he spent the VP debate basically telling those still awake in the audience that he was closer in philosophy to Dick Cheney than Al Gore. In 2008 he effectively endorsed McCain over either Democratic candidate before the Democratic primaries were decided, and was McCain’s preferred choice for VP. And, of course, his penchant for all things far right – bullying, torture, screwing the poor – was out in the open whenever the discussion turned to Israel.

    And to top it off, he looks like a cross between Droopy Dog and Emperor Palpatine, with the evil of the latter and the intelligence of the former. If we were to use a sports analogy, he’s the Josh McDaniels of politics – loved by the media but almost no one else.

    • waspuppet

      was McCain’s preferred choice for VP.

      You will never get me to not believe that Country First was McCain’s slogan exactly because it was gonna be Lieberman, and that when the GOP Taliban torpedoed the idea someone told the McCain campaign “You know, without a cross-party thing happening this slogan looks a little brownshirt-y” and they all said “Fk it; we already printed the signs.”

    • humanoid.panda

      He’s not only a career GOP loyalist in Democratic clothing, by the end of his career everyone recognized it. He

      “I have here in my pocket a list of 38 Democrats who are secretly Republicans, working on the explicit orders of Dick Cheney.
      PS. I am not a crank.”

      • Murc

        To be fair to CrunchyFrog, this isn’t as nuts as it sounds. There are number of places in the country where one-party rule is so strong that anyone who wants to have a political career joins that party regardless of their actual ideology. Rhode Island is a great example of that; there are a ton of Rhode Island “Democrats”, especially in the statehouse, who ideologically speaking as noxiously conservative.

        That having been said, this wasn’t at all the dynamic holding in Connecticut in 1970, when his political career began. Lieberman didn’t spring fully formed into existence, like Athena from the head of Zeus, when the time came to take down Lowell Weicker; he existed long before that.

        • humanoid.panda

          To be fair to CrunchyFrog, this isn’t as nuts as it sounds. There are number of places in the country where one-party rule is so strong that anyone who wants to have a political career joins that party regardless of their actual ideology. Rhode Island is a great example of that; there are a ton of Rhode Island “Democrats”, especially in the statehouse, who ideologically speaking as noxiously conservative.

          But that has nothing to do with what ChrunchyFrog said. Noxious conservatives running like Democrats are a problem, but, with few exceptions (the IDC in New York), they as a rule do not engage in a conspiracy to promote GOP interests- they are not “career GOP loyalists.”

          • humanoid.panda

            And of course what makes Lieberman so unique is that his domestic record was more or less mainstream Democratic until 2006 or so – and then he went and endorsed McCain, so ChrunchyFrogs conspiracy theory really doesn’t work for him either.

    • xq

      It’s sarcasm, not cover-up.

  • President Putinfluffer

    He wants a book deal and a dozen speaking gigs.

    Pretty good deal if you ask me.

    And I bet I can bargain him down to 10.

    • Hogan

      Coming soon to a remainder table near you!

  • Ken_L

    Surely someone on his team has warned Trump that if he doesn’t like the FBI Director to be a showboat, Lieberman might not be the best choice.

    • shawn k

      My thoughts exactly. He’ll be on tv all the time and will separate himself from Trump in the smuggest terms possible just to convince himself and everyone else of his own moral superiority.

      He’ll manage to alienate both the agents and Trump within 6 months. He can’t help it.

  • Gareth

    At the age of 75, he’s also very much on the old side for a 10-year appointment.

    Doesn’t anyone retire anymore?

    • LosGatosCA

      Not when the gritting is this easy.

    • Thom

      Nobody who should.

    • Ken_L

      When someone like Lieberman tries to spend more time with his family, the family tells them to piss off.

  • Bruce Vail

    Lieberman would actually be one of Trump’s higher quality cabinet-level appointments.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      (*cue weeping from all corners of the left blogosphere*)

    • benjoya

      it would set a precedent to name an FBI director who wasn’t a registered republican, so there’s that.

      • NonyNony

        Yes but only allowing FBI directors to be from either the Republican Party or the Connecticut for Lieberman party is not a great precedent either.

    • Aaron Morrow

      That’s not a low bar, that’s a line drawn on the ground.

      McMaster lost his credibility, so besides Mattis… yep.

  • Woodrowfan

    was Porter Goss not available? if you want someone to basically nap the job away he’s your man….

    • rea

      Trump would want/need someone like Terri Schiavo.

  • libarbarian

    an unqualified successor who happens to be an employee of his personal lawyer

    This matters

    grassroots progressive activists hate his guts and have for years.

    This does not.

  • Murc

    Lieberman lacks the conventional qualifications for an FBI director, never having served as a law enforcement agent or federal prosecutor.

    Without commenting on the fact that Lieberman is of course not at all qualified for this role (Scott’s “anyone who would take this job under these circumstances is not fit to have it” is one of his better le mot justes) I would like to say that in other circumstances I would regard the lack of conventional qualifications to be a huge place.

    The FBI is rotten. So is the CIA. Really, most of the American law enforcement and intelligence community is. They need to be burnt to the ground and then rebuilt from the ashes, and that’ll never happen while they’re run by people who rose to the top in the existing cultures; you need an outsider to do that.

    • NonyNony

      That won’t work either. The outsider will be routed around by the existing bureaucracy.

      There’s no simple fix to changing the culture of an enterprise as large as the FBI (or to generalize up to “law enforcement” in this country). It takes time, effort, and buy-in from actors at multiple levels. Anyone who thinks that the problem with the CIA or the FBI is that the Director refuses to shake things up enough hasn’t worked in enough large dysfunctional organizations to see that that approach just doesn’t work.

      It’s far too easy to sabotage efforts that come from the top when the person at the top is an outsider. In fact, it’s probably easier to sabotage them than it is to actually carry them out. Absent outside pressure, outsiders who come into large organizations often end up toeing the line and refusing to shake things up precisely because they have to earn loyalty from the folks on the inside just to get the requirements of the organization done – there’s no room to shake things up.

      Lieberman would be walking into an organization where nobody on the inside would respect him. He would either be seen as illegitimate because of his lack of law enforcement background, or as illegitimate because he’s Trump’s lackey. There’s no way he could be a force for change in that environment.

      (What would be better for reform would be to find a reformer on the inside who already has a group of people who respect and back him and then make it his/her mandate to clean up the organization. Co-opting the existing power structure to make it work for you is hard, but not as hard as trying to change things by attempting to have an outsider come in and “fix” everything).

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        trump is illustrating the limitations of the Outsider approach. A lot of the time it’s better at making things worse than it is at fixing things

        • NonyNony

          I wouldn’t use Trump as an example of this, though. Trump isn’t trying to change things out of any big picture vision of how things should be, he’s just trying to bend things to his benefit. And I suspect that the limit for those kind of shenanigans in an organization of any size is even more constrained than people actually trying to change the culture.

          (Bannon wants to kick things over and just generally destroy stuff – and I strongly suspect that if Trump were of the same mindset that’s the kind of thing that an outsider could easily do. Look at how well Lampert has been destroying stuff for Sears and he isn’t even trying!)

      • Murc

        That won’t work either. The outsider will be routed around by the existing bureaucracy.

        Where I come from, people who do that are committing fireable offense.

        It takes time, effort, and buy-in from actors at multiple levels.

        And when the relevant actors refuse to buy in?

        Anyone who thinks that the problem with the CIA or the FBI is that the Director refuses to shake things up enough

        If “refuses to shake things up enough” you mean “multiple leaders of those organizations have demonstrated that not only do they think change isn’t needed, but to the extent they DO think change is needed it is for the rest of us to shut up and let Colonel Jessup be on his wall” then yes, that is one (of many) of the problems those organizations have, and a large one at that. It is not, of course, THE problem but it is A problem.

        Absent outside pressure,

        This, of course, is also needed, or at least desirable.

        outsiders who come into large organizations often end up toeing the line and refusing to shake things up precisely because they have to earn loyalty from the folks on the inside just to get the requirements of the organization done

        This seems like a Deep State argument. If this is actually true, and I’m not sure it is, the answer isn’t to surrender; its to double down.

        Lieberman would be walking into an organization where nobody on the inside would respect him. He would either be seen as illegitimate because of his lack of law enforcement background, or as illegitimate because he’s Trump’s lackey. There’s no way he could be a force for change in that environment.

        This seems phrased as a rebuttal, which is odd because it doesn’t actually address any point I actually made.

        What would be better for reform would be to find a reformer on the inside who already has a group of people who respect and back him and then make it his/her mandate to clean up the organization.

        This isn’t a bad thing to do, of course, but one of the problem here is that fucked-up organizations often only promote fucked-up people, and iconoclasts in authoritarian organizations are often regarded in an even worse light than outsiders, because while enemies are bad, traitors are worse.

        • NonyNony

          And when the relevant actors refuse to buy in?

          Find some that will and promote them. Encourage a culture of change in the organization. Find allies and get them on board, even if you have to compromise a bit in some other areas to bring them over to your side. Hire new people as openings come in who are more sympathetic to your ideas than to the old guard.

          It’s long hard work – a culture builds up in an organization like this over decades. It can’t be changed by a single magical change in leadership – often it won’t get really changed until older people in leadership positions retire and can be replaced by more forward thinking people (though you can get superificial changes sometimes in the short term that lead to genuine change in the long term even without a turnover in older leadership).

          This seems like a Deep State argument. If this is actually true, and I’m not sure it is, the answer isn’t to surrender; its to double down.

          It’s not a Deep State argument except to the extent that “Deep State” arguments, stripped of their incendiary language, often end up boiling down to banal observations about how large organizations actually function in contrast to how we would prefer that they function.

          And good luck doubling-down in an environment like that. Throwing your weight around in the face of entrenched culture in a large organization where people already have loyalties and biases in place is likely to get you slow-walked into oblivion before it gets you the outcome you want. You have to convince people of the need to change in that environment before you get change – otherwise all you get are people sabotaging your plans while putting in an appearance of doing everything you say.

          This seems phrased as a rebuttal, which is odd because it doesn’t actually address any point I actually made.

          Good point – replace Lieberman with “any outsider” and the gist is the same.

        • efgoldman

          TL;DR, but you need to come back to the real world.

          people who do that are committing fireable offense.

          You don’t work in civil service, do you. It’s much harder to do than you think.
          Now, transferring someone to Nome or Pierre is a different story.

      • CP

        Lieberman would be walking into an organization where nobody on the inside would respect him. He would either be seen as illegitimate because of his lack of law enforcement background, or as illegitimate because he’s Trump’s lackey. There’s no way he could be a force for change in that environment.

        Yarp.

        (Related, honestly) I’m currently doing a reread of the Dresden Files. I just got to the part where, having become the chief enforcer for a group that he hates (the knight of the Winter Court), he’s assigned a servant. “Wait, you have to do whatever I say?” “Yes.” “Get me a coke.” Servant instantly brings him a coke. “… hey! It’s warm!” “You did not specify otherwise.”

        Which as it happens is a pretty perfect illustration of the way any hostile director brought into an organization like the FBI would be treated by every one of his underlings – at minimum.

        • Murc

          It seems worth noting that while your analogy is a good one, the servant (I forget their name, there’s so many ridiculous names in those) only gets away with that because he can presume on Harry’s good nature; his inability to dismiss him and his unwillingness to do something terrible to him.

          Which as it happens is a pretty perfect illustration of the way any hostile director brought into an organization like the FBI would be treated by every one of his underlings – at minimum.

          Is this not an argument that we will never, ever reform the FBI and should simply give up, or, conversely, an extreme argument that we should start a new organization and eliminate the old one and its entire staff entirely?

          (Which I’d be willing to entertain but it is a pretty huge step to take.)

          • CP

            It seems worth noting that while your analogy is a good one, the servant (I forget their name, there’s so many ridiculous names in those) only gets away with that because he can presume on Harry’s good nature; his inability to dismiss him and his unwillingness to do something terrible to him.

            It’s that, but also the fact that he’s a powerful enough practitioner in his own right that Harry trying to do something terrible to him might not work out well for Harry.

            The less dramatic/real-life/FBI version of that… is something we just saw play out with Trump and Comey: sure, fire me, but don’t forget that I Know Things, and if you fuck with me, you might regret it.

            Is this not an argument that we will never, ever reform the FBI and should simply give up, or, conversely, an extreme argument that we should start a new organization and eliminate the old one and its entire staff entirely?

            It was more of an argument of “a head-on confrontational approach won’t get you very far” – whereas the reform from the inside NN mentioned might. Also, isn’t that your preferred choice in the first place?

  • CP

    Our younger readers may not remember just how besotted the national media was with Joe Lieberman.

    Ohhhhh, no. I’m aware. A John McCain/Joe Lieberman presidency would’ve been the mainstream media’s wet dream, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about him.

  • Aaron Morrow

    Does this mean that, for the most part, McCabe would be running the FBI?

  • DrDick

    “Comically unqualified and unfit” pretty much describes everyone in this administration, especially Trump.

  • Being unqualified is the premier qualification for serving Donald in his beautiful, respected administration.

  • Mike G

    Trump enjoys breaking with tradition.

    Trump enjoys making disastrous screw-you appointments on personal whim just for the ego gratification of proving no-one can stop him. Appointing Liebertrash would be right up his alley.

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