Insight. Antics.

Gee, Why Joe?

In Media, Politics on December 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Most news outlets are reporting that Senate Democrats will give into “parliamentary terrorist” Joe Lieberman’s demands. That’s what he is at this point, regardless of your political leaning: someone who knowingly and unexpectedly creates legislative anger, confusion, and uncertainty for his own narrow-minded goals.

The Huffington Post was most blunt: “Lieberman Wins.” Long form, this means dropping two components of the bill that the Senate working group (aka the Gang of Ten) agreed to: allowing 55-64 year olds to buy in to Medicare, and a public option “trigger” if the national private nonprofit plans the bill calls for fail to come to fruition.

Suffice it to say, liberals are not happy. Some members of his state’s Congressional delegation are even calling for an (albeit non-existent in Connecticut) recall, just to show how livid they are.

Hater Joe made his initial unsupportive comments on Face the Nation. It’s too bad he doesn’t actually have to, y’know, face the nation and hear what people really think of him. It wouldn’t be pretty. With homeless guys lobbing tomatoes at Sarah Palin and mental cases nailing adulterous Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with statues on the fly (he and Tiger Woods should hang out), it’s kind of surprising nobody has chucked a honeydew at Lieberman.

Should we have seen this latest wrinkle coming? Probably: as Tim Noah has pointed out, Lieberman opposed the Finance Committee bill, which had neither a public plan nor Medicare buy-in.

Lieberman is many things, but he is not dumb. He knows the Democrats (who he ostensibly caucuses with) are in a bind: they have a deadline in place they are hell-bent on hitting. If they don’t get a bill passed by Christmas, they won’t have time to pass it in conference by the State of the Union, which Obama’s (and his coattails’) political fortunes are reliant upon.

But, why is Joe the Bummer, as Chris Matthews calls him, doing this? Policy reasoning? No, silly rabbit! After speaking to top Lieberman aides on Monday, Howard Fineman of Newsweek arrived at the conclusion: political vengeance. He’s bitter from all the nasty things the left said about him in 2006. Nevermind how he ignores that Obama actually campaigned for him then. I’ll say one thing for him: the man knows how to hold a grudge. Too bad holding fast to this one will malignantly affect millions of Americans’ finances and immune systems.

Really? Revenge? Seems plausible. Bolstering the case that he was not a mere nepotism hire, NBC’s Luke Russert intrepidly discovered and pointed out that in an interview three months ago in The Connecticut Post, Mighty Joe Young not only was for a plan that expanded Medicare eligibility age drops, he brought up the idea!

Lieberman tried to clarify his comments in a statement this week, suggesting he was talking in hypothetical terms, but now that there is an actual bill, he can’t support it. (He also said he’s worried about the financial condition of Medicare.)

Well, back in 2004, somebody started using a word for this. (Hint: it’s a synonym for “casual sandal.”)

Another simple, cynical reason Joltin’ Joe may be against the bill? He’s in the pocket of “Hartford, insurance capital of the world,” where that industry stands to gain millions of customers from this bill. Lieberman gets Powerball-style money from them.

Still hungry for hypo(crite)s? John McCain, who is bringing ‘da noise and ‘da funk of late in the upper house, has also rushed back on twee-fense to stand up for his friend. But let’s not start today on how disingenuous Republican efforts to rectify health care are.

Sticking with Lieberman, listen to this gem: “I think the filibuster has become not only in reality an obstacle to accomplishment here, but it also a symbol of a lot that ails Washington today.’ That ironic excerpt comes from 1994, while 15 years later, he threatens to use it that way. The Democrats could do something about it though: nothing. Make him (and the Republicans) physically filibuster.

Asked about how his stances will affect his chances for reelection, he said in late November, with more than a hint of arrogance, “I don’t think about that stuff. I’m just — I’m being a legislator. After what I went through in 2006, there’s nothing much more that anybody [who] disagrees with me can try to do.” He really thinks that nobody can touch him.

He misreads the situation. In 2006, he prevailed as an Independent, despite losing the Democratic primary, because he had the people’s good will and support and he had not broken as hard from the party as he now blatantly has, not just today but in supporting McCain in 2008. If he runs again, it might be a bloodbath.

This current health care situation is like a football game where the offense gets a first down, but a penalty knocks them back five yards. They’ve still made progress, but not as much as they expected they had gained.

It’s worth remembering that millions of people didn’t vote for Obama because he campaigned on a health care platform of expanding Medicare or creating a public option. They voted for him because he pledged to improve care and insurance, by creating a fair, affordable, competitive marketplace (perhaps with a plan that emulated what members of Congress have access to) and to outlaw the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

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In explaining his opposition, Lieberman also said he might have supported this bill, but he was scared at how much liberals like Anthony Weiner liked it: “Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it’s the beginning of a road to single-payer. Jacob Hacker, who’s a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, ‘This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.’ ” On a related tangent, Lieberman’s actions have now pushed Howard Dean to jump ship and call for a new bill, saying on Good Morning America, “This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG… This is an insurance company’s dream.” The White House is none too thrilled with him today, as it deals with liberal furor.

Is Joe so bad? For all the people in this country who identify as Independents or claim to despise the two-party system, Lieberman offers a challenge. If more Congressional officials were party-less how would things work? Could we take it? Imagine 10 Liebermans.

He certainly has a proclivity for being the center of attention. He should be a bigger person. Or at least have some Jewish guilt. I mean where is that when you need it?

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