First off, it must be brought up that no matter what the political nose count is in the Senate, Joe Lieberman unfailingly, through some ongoing cosmic practical joke, finds himself in a position of power. In the 110th Congress, when the Democrats had only 50 seats, Lieberman as an "Independent Democrat", found himself holding the golden ticket with "#51" embossed on it. The myth was that if the Democrats wanted anything passed, they'd need Lieberman on board to vote against the monolithic Republicans with whom he's long since thrown in his lot.
Then when the Democrats expanded their majority (especially after Senator Franken was finally certified as the winner in Minnesota), the next myth was that Joe Lieberman would be the crucial 60th swing vote that would prevent Republican filibusters. Instead, Lieberman threatened to filibuster the health care bill, a health care bill containing provisions for which Lieberman, until just last September, was in favor.
Let's get one thing straight: Lieberman is no more a Democrat than was Ronald Reagan or Joe McCarthy, two cretinous turncoats who turned to the dark side because the booze was freer and the power more intoxicating. Lieberman, against all reason, has still been allowed to caucus with the Democrats and to hold on to his chairmanship. Lieberman's about-face regarding a public option, at best an inbred country cousin for the single payer reform that many leading economists say we need, a single payer system for which, according to some polls 70% of Americans are in favor, is one of the most stunning flip flops in recent years and this just 13 months after a general election.
Joe Lieberman is a self-absorbed gargoyle with no loyalty to either party. He stabs the Democratic Party in the back whether it be over health care, the war in Iraq or the reconstruction of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. After promising during his latest Senate race to support a Democrat for President, once he was reinstalled into the Senate he wasted little time in supporting John McCain. As if rubbing Kosher salt into the open wounds of the Democrats with whom he purports to run, he's recently publicly said he'll back more Republicans in the 2010 midterms. Josh Marshall in Talking Points Memo
had Lieberman pegged:
The key issue senate Democrats now have in dealing with Joe Lieberman isn't his position on the Medicare Buy-In. They need to confront the problem that Lieberman isn't negotiating in good faith. No surprise that Republicans are giddy with what a problem he's creating for Harry Reid & Co. But in my conversations with them, it's as clear to them as it is to anyone else that he's now basically mocking his Democratic colleagues by moving the goal posts every time a new agreement is struck.
This puts the Democrats in an extremely difficult, politically untenable position. Yes, they need 60 votes. But they're not going to be able to hang on to Lieberman's vote long enough to get the bill passed. That now seems unquestionably clear. People who say that the Dems should just move to reconciliation don't necessarily realize the difficulties involved - either procedurally or politically, in terms of losing even more Democratic votes. Personally, I'd like to see them try it. But I don't know if it's possible.
Until a couple days ago I was close to certain a health care bill would pass. I still feel relatively confident one will simply because the Dems just don't have any choice but to pass one. Once it is passed, if it is, it's definitely time for the Democratic caucus to strip Lieberman of all the benefits he receives as a member of the Democratic caucus. But that doesn't accomplish anything at the moment. The only path I can see for the Dems is that they need to try to put 60 votes together with Sen. Snowe. Yes, that sounds crazy to me too. But I think she actually has a set of policy priorities that could be met. I don't think that's true with Lieberman. So further negotiating just means more game-playing.
Yes, you heard that right. The Senate Democrats may have to woo Sen. Olympia Snowe for her crucial 60th vote because Lieberman has been so waspish lately against so-called liberals and their so-called liberal agenda. The Democrats should have stripped Lieberman of his chairmanship, kicked him out of the party of which he's only nominally and technically a member. However...
While the uproar over Lieberman is certainly justified, we need to stop pretending that Lieberman's betrayal of the public option is an isolated fissure in a unified Democratic leadership that simply doesn't exist and never, ever has existed. How soon we forget that other so-called "liberals", the kind Lieberman loves to needle with the industry of a CIA interrogator at Abu Ghraib, have also abandoned the public option after supporting it.
How soon we've forgotten that Nancy Pelosi mysteriously flip-flopped on the issue just days before the health care racket threw a huge fundraiser for her. How soon we've forgotten that after making it one of his signature health care issues both on the campaign trail and right after getting in the White House, President Barack Obama then was quite willing to take a public option off the table. Democrats en masse
were all too willing to let small state Republicans slip language into a draft of the health care bill that would let states opt out of a public option.
Joe Lieberman is a back-stabbing cretin to be sure. But he is far from special except in this respect:
Even though the man is a neocon in donkey's clothes and embraces one ruinous neocon policy after another, at the end of the day Joe Lieberman still has more backbone than virtually any Democrat in the Senate and even the House. Lieberman isn't afraid to stand on his rickety hind legs, whip it out and spooge all over the face of the Democratic Party. He isn't afraid of what those of his "party" will think or of the fallout.
Joe Lieberman's principles, if one can call them that, frankly suck. But once Lieberman's flipped, he stays
flipped regardless of public opinion or the public option. Which is something that can't be said for the President, the Speaker or the Senate Majority Leader.