With the decision over the future of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s future as the Chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee finalized, the road to confirmation of the next Secretary of DHS is cleared of one of the biggest potholes it could have experienced.  The fact that the Senate Democratic leadership settled this as quickly as they did is a tremendous credit to them.  By making sure the road ahead for the prospective DHS nominee is clear (baring some unforeseen problem on the nominee’s part (aka Bernie Kerik problems), the Obama Team can continue to move forward with the Transition that has the eyes of much of Washington watching.

Credit for this is clear – President-Elect Obama.  Showing his leadership skills and living up to his word of wanting to move past partisanship to get things done, his willingness to call up Sen. Reid and other Senate Democrats and say, ‘Let it go,’ is a tremendous act of political graciousness that has not been seen in this town for a very long time.

I don’t think there is anyone in Washington who after seeing Sen. Lieberman actively campaign with Sen. McCain or hearing his speech at the Republican National Convention in September thought he had a chance of keeping the Chairman’s gavel if Sen. Obama won the election.  Whether it be Senate staffers, political and media pundits, or the K Street crowd, the conventional wisdom was that he was a ‘goner.’

“Put a fork in him, he’s done.”

My how things have changed.  Politics has always been the art of the possible and yesterday’s restoration of Sen. Lieberman as the Senate’s Homeland Security Chair proves it.

It’s a decision that I am very pleased to see come to pass.  Lieberman’s stewardship and leadership of homeland security issues is deep and substantive and to toss those capabilities aside for campaign rhetoric and political payback would be tragic – not just for Senate Democrats and DHS but the entire Senate and nation.  I applaud the Senate Democrats for making a good choice in returning the gavel to his hands.  Since we had the post-9/11 world thrust upon us, Sen. Lieberman’s voice and insight have been constants and we’re better for it.

His ‘partnership’ with former Committee Chair and now Ranking Member Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in working these issues has also been a model of civility and cooperation that is rarely seen anywhere in Congress.  I’m glad it will be around as we go through the beginning of the new Administration and its stewardship of the homeland.

And if Mark Burnett and CBS Television ‘Survivor’ Team ever decide to assemble a cast of Congressional Members to be left on a remote island to fend for themselves amongst the elements of bugs, back-biting and bickering, my money is on Sen. Lieberman.

He’s proven once again that he is the ultimate ‘Survivor’ in the most hostile of jungles – Politics.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More