Not that he was ever really gone, but the formalities must be observed.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said running as a Democrat is up to Lieberman, noting he has not yet had any talks with him about doing so. But Durbin said Lieberman this year has lived up to his promise to be a loyal and reliable vote on Democratic priorities.
“I will tell you this: I think it was a very good and wise decision for us to include Joe Lieberman in the Democratic Conference,” Durbin said. “He has really been valuable to us. On the stimulus package, he was an important part of bringing the negotiations together. He’s been terrific on the floor. I’m just glad to have him on board.”
(H/T: HotMES, who adds a suggestion that I can't in good conscience endorse).
As I implied above, this was inevitable. Lieberman is not a conservative: he's merely a guy who couldn't bear to see us lose in Iraq. Now that the chances of that happening are sufficiently low enough, he can return to the fold of a party that he's far more comfortable with when it comes to domestic affairs. I'm not forgiving him for doing it - the behavior of the Democratic Party during our last war was nothing short of appalling - but I understand why he's doing it.
As for why the Democrats will let him... it's probably because of Senator Dodd (D-Galway), who is apparently still determined to fight it out next year for re-election, bless his heart. Lieberman's current numbers show that he's in significantly better odor than Dodd is right now, which would make his help welcome. For that matter, a large part of Lieberman's unpopularity with CT Democrats is tied up with him being at odds with the party: campaigning for a fellow Democrat, plus a public reconciliation, will probably go a long way towards rehabilitating his image over the next three years. And, of course, if Dodd loses in 2010 his party will suddenly have a vested interest in not putting one of their seats at risk in 2012. So, really, from the Democrats' point of view this is win-win. Nobody suffers from letting Lieberman back in.
Except the progressive netroots, of course. But what are they going to do? Vote Republican?
Crossposted to Moe Lane.