Lieberman to Reid: You My B*tch


Remember a while back, when Joe Lieberman actively criticized and campaigned against the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate?  Called him unfit to be commander-in-chief?

I said at the time that if Harry Reid didn’t punish Lieberman in some way, he would make it very difficult to maintain discipline in his caucus.  (Similarly, with Ben Nelson.)  If actively campaigning against your own party’s* presidential candidate doesn’t get you disciplined, what could you possibly do that would?

Not to be all “told ya so” and everything, but…

Lieberman has now come out against the health care reform bill that Reid is sending to the floor for a vote.  He says he doesn’t like the bill, and is perfectly willing to help the GOP filibuster any bill he doesn’t like.

Because Reid did nothing before, he can now make no credible threat to Lieberman (or the more ambiguously wavering Dems, like Blanche Lincoln).  The only tool he’s got is trying to buy Lieberman off, which presents two immediate problems:  a) it’s tough to buy a senator when you’re bidding against the insurance industry, and b) whatever Reid has to give him, it’s going to be bad.

If you’d shown a little spine in the past, Harry, you’d have more options now; and Joe’s vote, if we can get it at all, wouldn’t cost us good legislation down the road.

(* Yes yes, I know.  But Lieberman still caucuses with the Dems and holds committee chairmanships as a Dem.)


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4 Responses to “Lieberman to Reid: You My B*tch”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    Me no unnastan polyticks.

    JzB the apolitical trombonist

  2. urbino Says:

    I’m not sure anybody does, jb.

    My best guess at what’s going on here is it’s more kabuki dance. I’ve never been convinced that the WH ever wanted a public option (just as they never really wanted major reform on Wall Street). Reid has never spoken up for it before this week. I’m not sure even Schumer is really for it.

    I think they still don’t want it to pass, but they need to convince the netroots, etc., that they did want it to pass, and gave it their best effort.

    Lieberman is the perfect tool for the job. Progressives already hate the guy, and doesn’t need their support or votes to keep his job. Let him kill it and everybody else comes out smellin’ like roses.

    The test of my theory will be, I think, what happens when the bill gets to the floor. If the public option gets removed by amendment, then all the Dems line up and vote for the remaining bill, with Reid, Obama, et al., shrugging and pulling a Kent Conrad (“oh shucks, the votes aren’t there”), that’s a red flag.

    The reason being, that’s an outcome where everybody gets to cast exactly the vote they want:

    1. The Reids and Schumers and so forth get to cast “no” votes on the amendment to remove the po, and “yes” votes on a bill that doesn’t have it. They keep their cred with progressives, but still claim credit for health care reform.
    2. The conservative Dems get to cast “yes” to remove the po, and then “yes” votes on the final bill. They keep the conservatives back home mollified, and still claim credit for health care reform.
    3. The Republicans get to polish their conservative cred twice — by voting down the po, then voting against the final bill. (If a couple of them feel a little vulnerable from the left, they can vote for the final bill.)
    4. The president gets his health care reform, without having to accept a po in the process (but without publicly opposing it).
    5. The progressives get to go down swinging, but still vote for the final bill because it’s better than nothing.

    The progressives and Republicans are the only groups who don’t get the actual policy outcome they really wanted all along, but Reid, etc., know the progressives will have to vote for the final bill anyway, and they know they don’t need any Republican votes. So the “leadership” loses nothing by pissing those groups off.

    As a raw, cynical political calculus, it’s darn near perfect. Which is why, if it happens, the odds are extremely high it’s what was intended all along.

  3. jazzbumpa Says:

    Wow. That is a raw, cynical assessment.

    Which very well be dead on.

    Cheers! (or something)

    JzB the progressive trombonist

  4. urbino Says:

    Yeah. Sometimes I give in to the dark side. OTOH, the cynicism of elected officials really is pretty much bottomless.

    Still, it’s entirely possible the whole thing is just Lieberman trying to extort future concessions from Reid. It would be classic Joe. And it would work.

    Looks like Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, and Blanche Lincoln may be trying to horn in on his act, though. If Reid shows enough weakness with Lieberman, look for others to join in the fun, too.

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