The Democrats are Pissed Off at Holy Joe

I haven’t seen the netroots this flat out angry at Democratic leadership ever.  Ever.

Even in the early days of the netroots when bloggers were spitting nails at the party over its complacency in the face of the Bush administration’s malfeasance, the anger was more moderated.  But now, with Joe Lieberman’s latest attention getting, reform stopping stunt, the netroots are flat-out pissed off.

Time and again, Democratic officials have given Lieberman anything he wanted in exchange for the promise that he would vote to end filibusters.  And time and again, Lieberman has been Lucy and the Democratic party Charlie Brown.  It’s time to stop putting up with this arrogant, small-minded man.  His ego is the size of Montana and the one key leverage Dems have over him is his ego.  Strip him of his Chairmanship.  Tell him if he wants it back, it’s time to play ball; he will vote the way we want or he doesn’t get his gavel back.  He’s a republican in all but name anyway, so let him caucus with the Republicans.  He won’t get to be chairman of anything. 

Joe Lieberman is a bad Democrat, that’s why he lost the primary.  My favorite comment about the sitch comes from Jonathan Chait:

I also think liberals, myself included, might be driving ourselves a little nuts trying to divine Lieberman’s motives. He keeps flip-flopping and explaining his shifts by making demonstrably false claims. What’s his game? Why does he keep saying these wrong, uninformed things?

I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn’t actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there’s little evidence that he’s a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform. At one point during the 2000 recount, the Gore campaign explained to Lieberman why lowering standards for military ballots would be totally unfair and illegal, and Lieberman proceeded to go on television and subvert the campaign’s position. Gore loyalists interpreted this as a sellout, but perhaps the more plausible explanation was that Lieberman — who, after all, badly wanted to be vice-President — just didn’t understand the details of the Gore position well enough to defend it. The guy was taken apart by Dick Cheney in the 2000 veep debate.

Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight says that Lieberman’s basic motive at this point is to stick it to the liberals who supported Ned Lamont in 2006 and not him.  I’d say that’s not far off – Lieberman has always struck me as an petty person.  His moralistic attacks on Bill Clinton in the 90s were little more than shallow politicking.

What should concern Lieberman is that party officials need to patch up their relationship with the party base after this particular legislative nightmare.  The party base – as seen in a recent poll – really wants Lieberman’s head on a platter.  If officials want the base to come out and vote next year, they could easily deliver on that.  Once health care reform passes, let the rest of the caucus carve up Lieberman.  Strip him of his chairmanship, deny him any voice in policy making.  Slam him publicly and tear him into shreds.  When he starts to caucus with the Republicans, shrug your shoulders and woefully express how sad it is to see a once honored Democratic legislator become a Republican and turn his back on his voters and his values.

Here’s the thing: an attack Lieberman campaign is no cost to Democratic Senators.  Republicans really don’t care for him, Democratic activists hate him.  If he votes to end a filibuster, Republicans will hate him; if he votes for a filibuster, the Dems will have a target for night of the long knives.  He has put himself in the perfect position to be a scapegoat for both sides.  Steve Benen at Washington Monthly reports that Harry Reid is livid at Lieberman’s betrayal; my take on Reid is that if he thinks he might lose his re-election bid next year, he’ll lead the charge against Lieberman with a full-throated bloody-minded brutality that will surprise the Connecticutt senator.  But will keep the base motivated.  Lieberman’s head on a platter is a shrewd strategy.

For Lieberman the problem is simple.  Next year, if Dems lose two or three seats, they’ll tear him to pieces.  His vote won’t make any difference.  If Dems win a single Senate seat next year, Lieberman becomes irrelevant.  They toss him aside.  Lieberman’s influence exists solely because of the Senate’s anti-majoritarian rules.  A slight shift either direction robs him of his influence.  Like a misbehaving child, Lieberman has opted for the “attention getting” approach rather an a substantive, policy making approach.

  1. #1 by Uncle Rico on December 14, 2009 - 5:48 pm

    Let me be as diplomatic about this as I can be:

    Fuck Lieberman.

  2. #2 by Glenn Hoefer on December 14, 2009 - 6:36 pm

    That would be disgusting Rico.

    I just call him Ach du LeiberFuck. He owns the party, and can do what he wants.

    Sadly for the Democrat Party, it’s leadership has no balls, literally. Is Harry Reid even human? He is soo gone in 2010. Go Nevada. This presidency is going soo well.

  3. #3 by brewski on December 14, 2009 - 7:38 pm

    reform stopping

    What reform are you referring to? I don’t see any reform at all.

  4. #4 by marshall on December 14, 2009 - 7:52 pm

    Too bad Lieberman doesn’t live Utah, he could be Holland’s best friend.

  5. #5 by Larry Bergan on December 14, 2009 - 8:17 pm

    I remember Lieberman’s support of counting military ballots after the election was over well. It was about the only time my extreme right wing boss at the time and I agreed on anything political. It helped with the most vicious attack on the people’s right to have their vote counted in my lifetime at the most crucial moment.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t want the military men to vote; it was because I was terrified the ballots would be tampered with to put Bush over the top because of the public perception that the military ALWAYS votes republican. Now they are trying to convince us that troops should be voting on the internet, which would allow unlimited tampering.

  6. #6 by Cliff Lyon on December 15, 2009 - 6:41 am

    I remember when someone said Joey Liebermann is a narcissist with a bi-polar monomaniacal complex combined with spinalgelatonia.

  7. #7 by brewski on December 15, 2009 - 11:37 am

    Bad Democrat = Good American

    Anyone who supports a bill which has 10 years of taxes to pay for 6 years of services and calls it balanced should be shot.

    Anyone who puts $247 billion of cost increases into Bill B and still calls Bill A balanced should be shot.

    Anyone who makes private deals with specific industries to buy their support plus $150 million in advertising should be shot.

    Anyone who votes for a bill which leaves 25 million people uncovered should be shot.

    Anyone who votes for a bill which actually increases the cost of health insurance should be shot.

    Ok, well maybe not actually shot. Just impeached would be fine. They will mostly all be gone in 11 months anyway.

  8. #8 by brewski on December 15, 2009 - 1:14 pm

  9. #9 by Larry Bergan on December 15, 2009 - 3:35 pm

    This week it’s Lieberman’s job to be the bad guy; next week, Orrin Hatch.

  10. #10 by marshall on December 15, 2009 - 5:01 pm

    Hey brewski you can come over to my place anytime and try out your aim. Make my day buddy!!!

    Brain dead Republicans refused to accept that we are paying for health care whether they like it or not. People get sick and until you want to let them pile up at the hospital door then they are going to get medical services and stick the rest of us with the tab. We might as well create a system to make sure these people get medical attention in an orderly manner.

  11. #11 by brewski on December 15, 2009 - 5:05 pm

    Yes. I agree.
    Let’s just not make it a bad system designed to please lobbyists and not take care of people.

  12. #12 by brewski on December 15, 2009 - 5:10 pm

    Marshall, you would be pretty safe since I have never owned a gun and if I did I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

  13. #13 by cav on December 16, 2009 - 7:51 pm

    Support Sanders #singlepayer amendment today: send free fax to Senate. It’s a point and click. Takes 30 seconds. Figure it’s worth letting them know we care about it, even if it has no effect on vote. And they also send one to your House Rep.

  14. #14 by cav on December 16, 2009 - 7:53 pm

  15. #15 by Larry Bergan on December 16, 2009 - 11:59 pm

    Thanks cav, I sent the fax.

  16. #16 by brewski on December 17, 2009 - 10:38 am

    Me too, modified for my own personal experiences. Both Mrs. Brewski and I are medically uninsurable at any price.

  17. #17 by Larry Bergan on December 17, 2009 - 12:37 pm

    brewski:

    So you have the Republican “don’t get sick and if you do, die” plan that Alan Grayson highlighted. That’s the exact plan I have.

    I guess you heard that about 27 Democrats and EVERY SINGLE Republican voted against funding the Veterans Affairs office, but oh, they love the veterans, don’t they?

    Why do you lean to the right?

  18. #18 by brewski on December 17, 2009 - 4:32 pm

    Larry, believe it or not I am not an ideologue as much as I’d like to solve problems. If the solution for global warming is market based (like tax pollution, see Econ 101) then so be it. If the solution for our health care is Swiss-style health system, the so be it.

    My wife and I accelelrated our wedding by 7 months for the sole purpose of getting her on the good health plan I had then. Then when I started a small business, she went back to work at a Utah state university so we could both get on that health plan. When you have people rationally deciding when to get married and where to work just so that they can get healthcare (or for tax purposes) then you know you have a fucked up system.

    I don’t expect for our first health care bill to get it right, so I would rather take a small step in the right direction than a big step in the wrong direction. The current proposals by the Dems are a huge monstrous mistake. The GOP plans are insufficient, and they do not solve a lot of big problems, but they are incremental steps in the right direction.

    Steps like allowing the purchase of plans across state lines, eliminating the tax difference between employer and individual plans, creating insurance marketplaces where small businesses and individuals can buy plans are all good small first steps.

    Ideally I think it is very important to separate one’s health insurance from one’s employment. There was no sense for this in the first place and it really makes no sense now. The tax treatment difference is also unhelpful. The Dem plan does not address either of these issues.

    As I have said before, there are a lof of good ideas out there for some real good things that work and have worked in the real world. We should learn from systems that work and not just expand a system that doesn’t work.

  19. #19 by Cliff Lyon on December 17, 2009 - 6:13 pm

    Brewski,

    If you are not an ideologue but simply a problem solver why do you blame democrats for a bad bill while suggesting the republicans have an “incremental” plan.

    I call BULLSHIT. The republicans have no plan and no interest in solving the problem.

    The House bill is a reasonable plan that will lead to single payer which you know damn well is the best solution.

    I think you are an ideologue, and a disingenuous one at that!

  20. #20 by brewski on December 17, 2009 - 10:00 pm

    The House Bill is a completely dishonest and ridiculous plan and you know it.
    It has 10 years of taxes for 6 years of benefits to make it look like it is deficit neutral which it isn’t.
    It has $247B of cost increases in another bill to make the “reform” bill look balanced when it isn’t.
    It is a gift to drug companies who were bought for their silence.
    “It does more harm than good” says Dr. Howard Dean.
    It leaves 25 million people uncovered.
    It will result in higher insurance costs for pretty much everyone.
    It does nothing to “bend the curve” of total costs.
    It leaves in place the illogical tax treatment of employer plans vs individual plans.
    It leaves in place the state by state restrictions on selling plans.
    It raises the cost of employing people.

    So I call your BULLSHIT and raise you a double-secret BULLSHIT.

    I absolutely agree that the GOP does not go nearly far enough. But what it does have are some pretty good reforms in the right direction.

  21. #21 by Cliff Lyon on December 18, 2009 - 8:11 am

    BULLSHIT! All the bad stuff in the bill is because of Republicans and a few bad dems.

    Name ONE republican good ‘reform’ either proposed or in the bill.

  22. #22 by Larry Bergan on December 18, 2009 - 12:28 pm

    Believing the Republicans are going to put anything good in a health care bill for anybody but the people who finance their elections is the most laughable concept imaginable brewski, and you know it!

    I just wish I could say my party was untainted. Obviously, they aren’t, but choosing the Republicans to do the best job is like driving your car off a cliff because you’re afraid of heights.

  23. #23 by brewski on December 18, 2009 - 7:53 pm

    One: Allowing to buy policies from other states.
    Two: Eliminating the tax treatment difference between employer and individual plans
    Three: Limiting malpractice awards which is done in all the liberal countries which you admire so much.

    All the bad stuff is the fault of Republicans? OK, now you have totally lost all credibility.

    You mean the GOP was in the White House holding a gun to Obama’s head when he sold his soul for $150 million in drug companies’ advertising support. Yeah, I can see how Rush Limbaugh was in the room with Obama whispering in his ear “this is your chance, fuck it up now!”

    I believe we would have a better bill with the Congress in Dem hands and the White House with McCain. There would be a much more coming together of concepts and philosophies which would result in a lesser pile of shit than the Dems have done on their own.

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