12/19/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TIME: Why The Democrats And Obama Forgave Lieberman

hroughout his political career - from his earliest days as a state senator and Connecticut attorney general to his roles as U.S. senator, Vice Presidential nominee, pariah to the left and prominent endorser of John McCain - Joe Lieberman has never been shy about speaking his mind. That outspokenness on the campaign trail is what got him in his recent predicament, where his fate as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and member of the Democratic caucus depended on the good graces of Senate Democrats.

Lieberman easily won the vote on Tuesday allowing him to keep his chairmanships, but he might not have been so fortunate without the implicit backing of President-elect Barack Obama, the same man Lieberman said so many nasty things about during the race for the White House. Yet Obama wasn't just acting out of bipartisan good will. In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, he may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal - and now he owes Obama a big one. His job over the next few years, for the first time in his long political career, is to keep quiet.

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