Senator Joseph I. Lieberman strode into a Democratic caucus gathering like he owned the place or, at the very least, like someone who is a flight risk and could leave at any minute, taking the Democrats’ new majority with him.
In other words, everyone was extra-special nice to the wayward Democrat on Tuesday.
“It was all very warm, lots of hugs, high-fives, that kind of stuff,” said Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado.
And Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas noted, “I gave him a hug and a kiss.”
Mr. Lieberman received a standing ovation at a caucus luncheon after Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who is poised to become the majority leader, declared, “We’re all family.”
These would be many of the same good friends “who were happy to leave my dad by the side of the road,” as Mr. Lieberman’s son, Matthew, put it in an election night speech. ...
“It was very painful to him to have all these people he thought were his friends embrace his opponent,” Ms. Collins said. “They just threw him overboard. But now, not only is he re-elected resoundingly, but he is also the key to which party controls the Senate.”
Mr. Lieberman’s situation underscores the precarious calculus of political friendships. People close to him say he remains miffed, if not bitter, about what he considers the betrayal of allies who supported an unknown, untested and unfamiliar candidate.
In recent months, Mr. Lieberman has frequently invoked the Harry Truman maxim that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.
Mr. Lieberman was asked Tuesday if he viewed his position as similar to a swing vote on the Supreme Court, a role often played by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor or Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The parallel had not occurred to him, Mr. Lieberman replied, but he considered it “a complimentary analogy.”
He beamed as he said this, as he did for much of the day.