December 14, 2009

So it comes down to this: Joe "I Don't Know How Anybody Can Decide Until You See The Actual Language" Lieberman got his widdle feelings hurt, and so Joe will do anything to get back at the mean liberals who hurt his feelings - even if it means hundreds of thousands of people have to die without health care.

Doesn't that make him a sociopath? And doesn't that make the Democrats co-conspirators?

The Huffington Post and Roll Call are both reporting that Joe Lieberman notified Harry Reid that he will filibuster health-care reform if the final bill includes an expansion of Medicare. Previously, Lieberman had been cool to the idea, saying he wanted to make sure it wouldn't increase the deficit or harm Medicare's solvency. That comforted some observers, as the CBO is expected to say it will do neither. Someone must have given Lieberman a heads-up on that, as he's decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to make sure the facts of the policy couldn't impede his opposition to it.

To put this in context, Lieberman was originally invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill's failure that much more. And it's hard to imagine there's a policy rationale here, as he decided against even bothering to wait for the CBO's analysis before moving against this idea. At this point, Lieberman is just torturing liberals. That is to say, he's willing to directly cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.

[...] The final path would be to try the reconciliation, the parliamentary procedure that would allow Democrats to pass chunks of health care reform by a simple up or down vote. There are a host of hurdles that come with going down this route, including questions over what, exactly, could be passed. And at this point both the White House and Reid's office seem hesitant to use the procedural tool, even after Lieberman's latest round of opposition.

Reid could also try and find another compromise, but it's not clear there are many of those left. And at this point, the underlying dynamic seems to be that Lieberman will destroy any compromise the left likes. That, in fact, seems to be the compromise: Lieberman will pass the bill if he can hurt liberals while doing so. From Lieberman's perspective, the compromise is killing the compromise.

Chris Bowers points out the Democrats have put Holy Joe in this position:

Nothing Lieberman is doing would be possible without the ongoing support of the majority of the Democratic caucus. If Democratic Senators wanted to punish Lieberman for his consistent transgressions against the party, they could. If Democrats wanted to use reconciliation, and just circumvent him altogether, they could do that, too. But they are not going to do either.

As such, Lieberman is simply taking the power that is being handed to him by the rest of the caucus. Since he knows that Senate Democrats won't ever punish him, and won't ever circumvent him, he now has free reign to dictate whatever legislation he wants, get tons of face time with the White House and Senate leadership, regularly be the top story on news outlets around the country, receive millions in campaign contributions, and appease his Republican base (at this point, most of Lieberman's supporters are Republicans). It is a great deal for Lieberman, and it would not be possible without the ongoing consent of the majority of the Democratic Senate caucus.

Since we have already defeated Lieberman in a Democratic primary, there is clearly nothing more as progressive activists to threaten Lieberman. What we need to start doing is taking action against the Democrats who enable Lieberman and his ilk. If other Senate Democrats are not going to do anything about Lieberman taking control of the entire caucus, then really, what is the difference between those other Senators and Joe Lieberman?

Never though I would echo George W. Bush, but we have reached the point where it is time to stop differentiating between problematic Senators like Joseph Lieberman and the other Senate Democrats who enable them.

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