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In my career I have to work with a lot of people with both alcohol and drug addictions. What always strikes me is the excuses that family members make for the addict. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the following: "He/she really does love me"; "He is a good provider"; "He/she is a good father/mother"; and, perhaps the most common one, "I made him/her do it."

Then, after excusing the behavior, the addict is allowed to rejoin the family, regardless of what damage he or she may have done to the family. To use the language of professionals in the field, they "enable" the addict to continue his or her addiction.  

Of course, this doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes the family members demand reform. Sometimes they lay down the law and tell the addict that if the behavior continues, the relationship is over. Sometimes they just end the relationship without any explanation.

This is always a difficult and frightening step. Because, often the addict is a nice person when he or she isn't using and change is always scary. Yet, in my experience often it is only when the other family members are willing to end the relationship that change occurs.

Now, consider the relationship between the Democratic Majority in the Senate and Joe Lieberman. Members of the majority, just like the family members I have dealt with, keep making excuses. We keep hearing things like, "He is with us on everything except the war"; "He supports us on most things"; "He is just bitter at what happened in 2006, but he will come around"; and "We have a secret understanding with him."

Meanwhile, as they keep making excuses, Joe's behavior gets worse. Now he is threatening to vote against stopping a Republican led filibuster. He won't even agree to vote to let the health care bill come to a vote if it has a public option. Of course, interestingly, he hasn't committed to voting for cloture if the public option is removed. Nor has he actually told anyone what it is he does want, or even if he supports health care reform at all.

Now, the Democratic Majority can continue to lose their own self-respect and the respect of others and allow him to continue his behavior. Or, they can do what I have seen family members do with addicts and end the relationship if he doesn't agree to vote for cloture.

Now is that scary? Sure, because no one knows what will happen, or what he will do. Will it be difficult? Sure, because the Senate is a relatively small body and personal relationships are important. Obviously, such a position will hurt the Dem Majority's relationship with Lieberman. But, let's face it, a relationship where one party is allowed to abuse your trust isn't much of a relationship. It is time to stop enabling Joe Lieberman.

UPDATE: Thanks for putting me on the "recommended" list. I am honored and humbled. MrGavel.

Originally posted to mrgavel on Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 05:06 AM PST.

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