Family Blackmail

by digby

I have heard that nobody on Capitol Hill seriously believes that Joe Lieberman will help Republicans filibuster a health care bill. Apparently, he's seen as some kind of errant child who needs a lot of attention but will fall in line when the time comes.

I just wonder why anyone believes that. Recall that he was the first Democrat to come to the Senate floor and condemn Bill Clinton for being immoral, thus breathing new life into the scandal at a critical moment and turning up the heat for impeachment. Consider his behavior during the confirmation processes for Supreme Court nominees during the Bush administration when he and Lindsay Graham convened the Gang of 14 to essentially hamstring the Democrats from filibustering Supreme Court nominees, thus ensuring that we will have a corporate friendly court for a generation. Remember, for Gawd's sake, that the man spent all of last year campaigning by the side of the Republican candidate for president, saying that the Democratic nominee, the current president, was unfit to lead. What exactly would he have to do to prove that he isn't a loyal Democrat?

I think it's pretty clear that Lieberman isn't planning to help the Democrats pass health care reform. After all, he hasn't just been saying that there shouldn't be a public option. He's been saying that there shouldn't be health care reform at all. I think he's very likely to be a "no" vote even without a public option (and he's not alone) but considering his history I can't see any reason why anyone would believe that he's going to vote for cloture either unless they bribe him with something he dearly wants (nuclear war?) or threaten him seriously with something he doesn't want to lose. He certainly is placing himself, as usual, at the center of the negotiations whether we like it or not.

This is all about Reid and Obama now. They don't seem to think they can successfully threaten recalcitrant Dems with the loss of their committee chairs if they refuse to allow an up or down vote. I'm not sure why that is, but for the sake of argument, let's say it's so. But if they refuse to use the sticks, there sure are plenty of carrots out there for these pampered little royals, so I don't see that as an excuse. If Obama and Reid can't get Lieberman and the rest of the selfish jackass caucus to allow an up or down vote on something that a vast majority of the American people want, then we have to ask ourselves if they really want to.

Update: Mary Landrieu said on MSNBC that the reason people say they support the public option is because they think that means it's free. And then she said that she's sorry there's been this whole "unfortunate debate" about the public option because we should be talking about public private partnerships and cost containment not a free lunch.

Let the blackmailing begin.