We Lose. (Updated x2)
by NoFortunateSon, Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 07:27:06 PM EST
I apologize in advance for a diary written in haste. I am usually one to oppose repetition of supposedly breaking, blogosphere theories collected from multiple unnamed sources, and to urge a patient wait for final word. Usually. But it appears this time that there is a general consensus building as to the direction health care reform is heading in the Senate and feelings amongst progressives are quite hard this evening. I know I feel very angry. It is beginning to look like the Senate will cave in to the individual demands of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and pare away the progressive aspects of the health care reform bill to a narrower core.
Many have speculated about the motives of Joe Lieberman.
There is the theory that he is mentally unstable. That is an intellectual easy theory to propose in that it is virtually indefensible. He may lack any semblance of a soul, but I am disinclined to believe that he lacks a mind. There just appears to be too much premeditation in his timing.
There is the theory that he is in this for the insurance industries located in his home state. Connecticut certainly is home to a large number of insurance corporations who would love nothing more than to turn the bill into a free handout by mandating without any cost control. His wife has ties to the insurance industry lobby. But such a move is politically unpopular, and to carry on in this manner, clearly obstructing the will of the people seems politically suicidal. Of course, if he doesn't intend to seek reelection, his actions bear no consequences. He can certainly publicly flip flop on positions, renege deals with the leadership, and repeatedly stab supposed friends in the back.
There is a theory that he is a pathological narcissist. I find the most evidence to support this theory, as he has essentially made himself the single most important person in our Legislative Branch, trumping the entire Senate establishment by shear virtue of being the last Senator to number 60 with the least number of scruples. If we had 61 democratic senators, Joe wouldn't have his moment in the sun. More troubling, is this report from Howard Fineman on Hardball with Chirs Matthews, the former of which I am inclined to trust.
MATTHEWS: Uh, let's talk about this thing with Harry Reid and Lieberman. I call him "Joe the bummer" as in "Joe the plumber," because he's brilliantly timing this thing. 'I'm not for this, I'm not for the public option, now I'm not for the buy-in on Medicare,' the H-55. He's just killing these guys.So this is all about the progressive Left? I am inclined to believe that indeed, it is. And the consequences are truly frightening.
FINEMAN: Well, I talked to his spokesman today, I said, look, I'm going on Hardball, give me your side of the story. Okay, their side of the story is, it's a principled thing, there's many parts of the bill he believes in, the Medicare buy-in is an add-on because there's already subsidies. And the guy gave me a lot of plausible stuff. Okay. And I half believe it. I'm sorry ...
MATTHEWS: What's the other half of your beliefs?
FINEMAN: The other half is it's personal with Joe, not with Obama, 'cause don't forget that Obama, the President, supported Lieberman in the fight in the party in Connecticut. It's the grassroots left of the Democratic Party ...
MATTHEWS: That enjoyed his torture.
FINEMAN: That enjoyed his torture and this is payback to them. Obama, excuse me, the President's caught in the middle here. That's my take on it.
MATTHEWS: So he wants Markos Moulitsas to take a hit.
FINEMAN: He wants Moulitsas, he wants Firedoglake, he wants all those people who rode around on the bus of the challenger, who defeated him in the Democratic primary.
First and foremost, we all lose. Lieberman may intend to hand progressives a defeat, but sadly, you can't just make certain portions of the bill apply to Daily Kos readers and the rest apply to the remainder of the United States. If we could, we could raise the taxes on Red State readers to pay for their war in Iraq. Lieberman must then be willing to hand the entire nation a defeat simply to exact revenge on a blog. I wonder if there has been such truly destructive pathological narcissism in this country since the time of Richard Nixon? Stripping the progressive measures from the bill tips the bill in favor of the insurance industry and creates the terrifying prospect of mandates without public recourse.
Second, we have a madman on our hands. A madman who has now proven himself singly capable of negating the entire progressive congressional and senatorial congress, the entire progressive movement, and the increasingly progressive will of the people. I am deeply concerned for the future of the progressive movement if a single Senator is determined to oppose every effort on principle. For the remainder of this session, he will be number 60 and hold such power.
Finally, there is a murder suicide aspect to his villainy. In stories from epochs past on up to comic books, the villain is often a pathological narcissist and megalomaniac. But rarely is there literary evidence for a villain that has been so willing to destroy the organization for which he supposedly stands in an effort to bring down the hero. You see, if Joe wins, healthcare reform weakens, and democrats are hurt politically. I know, it is easy to claim that Joe Lieberman is not a democrat. He has campaigned vociferously against democrats including President Obama, and many claim he is simply an opportunist enjoying the benefits of being in the majority while working through subterfuge and chicanery for the minority. This is a conspiracy theory with some popular observational support. But again, I am unconvinced. He may claim it has nothing to do with Obama, but I believe, unwittingly, he is more than willing to bring down all Democrats to serve his self interest. I believe this theory especially holds true if you look at his campaigning for John McCain as an earlier instance of exacting revenge rather than standing for or against a position on ideological grounds. Barack Obama was loved by the blogosphere.
I am very, very angry, and it is hard to place that anger.
I could be angry at Barack Obama. Seven Presidents have tried to effect any change on healthcare in this country. All have failed. It will be up to Presidential scholars to determine whether President Obama was too much of a realist, having too clear a picture of what was present in the Senate a priori, and not what could be present. Did he overlearn the mistakes of Clinton on his first major initiative and the largest legislative lift attempted by any President in decades by staying out of the debate? Did he try too much too soon? All of that courting of Olympia Snowe doesn't look so foolish now. There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Obama falsely portrayed or was wrongly tagged with the fantastical meme that anything could be accomplished, either of which clashes with the politics of reality that seem to be in place.
I could be angry at Harry Reid. Did he coddle his friend Joe Lieberman too much? Is he too weak of a negotiator? Or is this, again, being a case of cold, hard reality? Pulling Lieberman's chairs would simply expel him from the caucus, bringing us back down to 59 votes. We supposedly need that 60th vote on other issues, and there is the argument that the net good is greater with Lieberman onboard for other matters to prevent filibusters. I have read mixed reviews on reconciliation, and the consensus seems to be that it would still produce an inferior bill (if that is even possible) to the Lieberman compromise. So what should Harry Reid do?
Many people don't discuss this aspect, but I do believe the GOP is a silent enemy here. You ask how they could be involved, being relegated to insufficient minorities in both houses? By standing for nothing other than failure of this President, they have no effective bargaining position - they are simply locked in nay votes. There is nothing realistic for Democrats to offer Republicans in exchange for their vote. But it's so hard to be angry at a weak and ineffective and at best regional permanent minority party.
I could be angry at the US Senate and the Rules of Our Government laid down by the Founding Fathers in U.S. The Constitution. But to me, this is akin to arguing with the refs when you're losing. The Constitution has clear measures in place for removing a rogue President - it has no such rules for dealing with a megalomaniacal Senator who so clearly betrays the very intention of the legislative body by singly standing in the way of the majority.
At the end of the day, I feel I just have to put the plurality of my anger on Joe Lieberman. I know, it is easy to ask: "what if?", to ask what would be the different outcome if President Obama had come out in favor of the public option early on despite it being a non-starter in the Senate. But Joe Lieberman alone is the transgressor. And I know that directing my anger towards him will not only have no effect, but only make him more powerful. We all lose here, and I fear for Democrats in 2010 and beyond.UPDATE December 15, 2009 4:44PM EST Thank you for the recommendations, and my first appearence here on the Recommended list at MyDD, but quick, everyone in the liberal blogosphere oppose the Public Option, and fast. Lieberman has been running his mouth, and there is additional evidence today in the New York Times that indeed, Lieberman's nonsensical actions are intended to oppose the liberal blogosphere.
UPDATE 2 December 16, 2009 11:55PM ESTJay Rockefeller tells Howard Dean to STFU, and very famous and influential Daily Kos diarist thereisnospoon explains why all our crying for the public option never amounted to a hill of beans, confirming what I wrote about earlier: So Why is nobody mobilizing for a Public Option.