Make It Hurt

by

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) — that famous “moderate” who grandstands by killing various pieces of legislation favored by his own party, caucus, leadership, and president, and passing various pieces of legislation favored by the other party, their caucus, their leadership, and their president — is out there “moderating” again.

This time, it’s on the president’s and his party’s highest priority: health care reform.  Let me repeat, it is the highest priority, bar none, for both his party and his president.  Obama has staked his presidency on it.

Nelson would like to kill it.  He’s doing so by once again grandstanding to the Beltway press as a moderate — “Sure, we need health care reform, and personally I favor it, of course.  But let’s not get in such a hurry.  Let’s slow down so we can bring some Republican votes along,” he says mildly, tutting.

Nelson knows, of course, that slowing down the legislation will kill it.  Which is what he really wants.  Nebraska, see, is a big health insurance state.

While it’s aggravating to see Nelson’s hypocrisy succeed so well, time after time after time, both legislatively and in the media, you can’t really blame him for doing what politicians do: covering his backside.

No, as I’ve said before, the people to blame here, if Nelson succeeds, are Pres. Obama and Sen. Reid.  They’ve got to make it clear to Nelson that going off the reservation is going to hurt; and going off the reservation on health care reform is going to hurt bad.  Since neither Obama nor Reid has ever penalized anybody in their caucus for anything (and did I mention Joe Lieberman is on Nelson’s slow-walking team?), Nelson knows he can do whatever he wants, on any legislation he wants, as often as he wants, and never pay a penalty for it.

Back to the basics, Democratic leaders: when a thing is free, you get overconsumption of it.  You’ve made torpedoing your own party free.  Is it any wonder senators take that offer so often?

If health care reform fails, Nelson will be the villain, and he will have well earned it.  But, as I’ve said before, it will still be the Democratic leadership’s fault.

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