That seems less weird when you know that Lieberman -- an independent -- votes with the Democrats 90 percent of the time (though his apostasies tend to come on such big-ticket items as health care and Iraq). Tales of the rift between him and his former party seem increasingly overstated.Although of course Lieberman did eventually vote with the Dems on health care; his dissent was on the public option (and expanded Medicare, and other attempted public option compromises). Even then, his vote wasn't the decisive one against some form of public option (it's pretty clear that Ben Nelson would never have been on board, and there were probably four or five others who would have let the whole thing sink rather than voting for any form of public option). On the votes that counted, though, Lieberman was there -- at one point even walking halfway across Washington through serious snow (on Shabbat) in order to cast a key vote.
Indeed, while there are plenty of places where I think Reid could have done more to break GOP obstruction, the case of Joe Lieberman is surely something for which he (and perhaps the president as well) deserve a lot of credit. A lot of liberals outside the Senate wanted Holy Joe punished for his (extremely vocal) support of John McCain in 2008, and the Democratic leadership of the Senate took a lot of heat for ignoring it. It's hard to say, at this point, that the liberal critics were right -- and it's not hard at all to imagine that had the Democrats stripped Lieberman of his committee chair position, he could have walked across the aisle and not only caucused with the GOP but started to vote with them regularly as well. And without Holy Joe, there's every possibility that there's no ACA, and perhaps a smaller stimulus, no banking bill, and an even tougher road on unemployment insurance extensions. Indeed, I would think that "Lieberman flips" is #2 on the conservative daydream list about 2009-2010, just after "Al Franken comes up short."
Granted, one can never tell about these things from outside -- and perhaps not even from inside. But I think it's pretty clear that Harry Reid deserves a lot more credit than he's received from liberals for holding his caucus together most of the time in most cases, and Joe Lieberman is probably the prime example.