I wonder what it feels like to be the most hated man in America? And no, Im not talking about Tiger Woods. In the political world no one is more hated right now than Joe Lieberman. A decade removed from being his party’s nominee for Vice President of the United States, he is now being viewed as the single opponent preventing the passing of a strong, progressive Health Care Reform Bill. Although there are several other moderate Democrat senators that have not confirmed they would vote for the current Senate bill, Sen. Lieberman has become an easy target and enemy #1. Is Joe a vindictive opportunist or a senator sticking with his convictions and constituency?
It’s easy to see why Democrats would feel Lieberman is just being vindictive in his opposition to the Senate bill. I mean after all, it is was the Democrats that tried to sweep him out of office in 2006. Feeling he had lost his liberal edge, Ned Lamont was nominated the Democratic challenger to his Connecticut Senate seat. However, Joe did not back down and polls showed that he was still a contender to represent his state because of a strong following among the moderates that were under-represented in his primary. Running as an independent, Lieberman won re-election and the liberal supporters of Lamont were stunned. As an olive branch to show no hard feelings, Lieberman maintained his seniority in the Democratic Caucus and retained his chairmanships.
2 years later, in our latest presidential election, Lieberman was faced to choose between his closest moderate ally and friend from across the aisle, John McCain or the most liberal, unchallenged senator from his own party, Barack Obama. Although Lieberman has a solid Democratic voting record, he has never swayed from his beliefs in strong national security. He aligned himself with his friend, and supported Sen. McCain for the presidency. That in and of itself didn’t hurt his relationship with his party as much as the fact that he went on the campaign circuit and actively stumped for McCain, including a speaking role at the Republican National Convention. After Obama won the election, the Democrats realized they still needed Lieberman’s 60th vote: So, in a lesson they didn’t learn from 2 years prior, as an olive branch to Lieberman, they allowed him to maintain his seniority in the caucus and chairmanships. DEJA VU!
Now let’s bring this back to our recent health care debate. Sen. Lieberman has consistently said he was not for any sort of public option. It could be because Connecticut is the leading home of insurance companies, but nonetheless he has always been against a public plan as proposed in Congress. So, in an effort to make a bill that could get the necessary 60 votes, Democrats offered a “compromise” that they would strip the watered-down public option that they didn’t like to begin with and instead offer a Medicare buy-in age reduction to 55 and up. This would be their “compromise” – and allow the conservative Dems from middle America to vote for the bill without going back to their constituency and saying they voted for a public option. While their insistence that this was a compromise was bought by our news media and propagandized on progressive TV and radio – Lieberman saw through the bull. Lieberman saw that this strategy was only a under-handed attempt to push us closer to the less popular single payer system. I’m not sure how the media missed it, because Howard Dean, Rep. Andrew Weiner, and others were pretty brazen in their outgoing rational for the reinstitued push. If he wasn’t for a public option, why no matter what he said in the past, would you be lead to believe that he would be for this?
So, Joesph Lieberman has become enemy #1 for the time being. MSNBC is covering him on nearly every other segment to remind their viewers of how evil he is, forgetting his strong voting record except in two areas near and dear to the progressive movement – Security & Health Care. Nevermind the fact his party tried to run him out of his office — he is traitor.
Technically speaking, Lieberman is probably enemy #1B, since today progressive congressman have decided to finally use their pulpit to direct their anger towards Obama. Quotes from this Huffington Post piece include;
“The White House has been useless…” Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI)
“Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge?” Rep. Andrew Weiner (D-NY)
“This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
“The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel. No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
So as the frustration and hatred from the left is thrown at Lieberman and now Obama, many are unable to look at the big picture. Howard Dean and Markos Moulitsas have both suggested to scrap the entire bill. I understand this about their frustration – Democrats will never have an opportunity like they had to pass a massively liberal health care bill. But the vile towards Lieberman is unfounded – because what they are finding out is right of center individuals are the majority in this country – a stance shared by many of those blocking the passage of this bill. Lieberman is one man standing up for many. Reform is needed, but not the way they want it done.