Monday, December 14, 2009

Lieberman's Weekend 2

So, Holy Joe seems to have what he wants -- if he'll stick to a yes this time. Looks like we're going to have a health care bill in which, as Tim Noah says, liberals are going to trade the public option for nothing, and like it.

Let's say that's what actually happens (and of course there are at least two rounds to go, with cloture on final passage and then on the conference report, and Lieberman is certainly capable of flipping multiple times by then). And let's say -- and I'm not sure if this is correct, but suppose it is -- that Lieberman is entirely responsible for sinking all the possible public option compromises. So that's Lieberman's Sunday. No public option. No opt-out, no opt-in, no trigger, no nothing. No Medicare buy-in. Perhaps also no CLASS Act (don't know yet), and who knows what else.

That's Lieberman's Sunday.

But the weekend had two days, as I talked about earlier. I was pretty vague earlier, but via Feministing here's a Reuter's article with details about what Joe Lieberman -- same guy -- hiked over three miles in the cold in order to secure:

Needle-exchange programs for drug addicts -- intended to ensure that diseases such as AIDS are not spread by infected needles shared by injection drug users -- would have an easier time getting federal funding. Abstinence-only sex-education programs for school children would get less money.

The measure would reverse a ban on Washington's ability to use local funds to pay for abortions. The capital city, unlike the 50 U.S. states, is subject to congressional control.

Also, the SEC gets to hire 420 people so that they can actually, you know, regulate the securities industry. Going to Obey's press release, there are all sorts of goodies for liberals in here: new funding for job retraining, for community colleges and adult ed, for community health centers, for Pell Grants, high speed goes on. Liberals would find plenty of things to dislike in this year's appropriations bill, I'm sure, but there's still a dramatic difference from 2003-2006.

That's thanks to Joe Lieberman, hero of the Weekly Standard crowd. That's what he did on Saturday.

Look, I'm not a Joe Lieberman apologist. I don't even, particularly, have any suggestions for what Democrats should or can do about their Joe Lieberman problem. I'm just noting that the idea that he's out to get liberals, if true, seems to be mostly at a symbolic level, or at least doesn't extend to a lot of the things that liberals care about.

The Joe Lieberman problem is the result of, more or less, two is the playing out of the Lowell Weicker story many years ago (a liberal Dem couldn't have defeated Weicker in 1988, but Lieberman just barely did) and a reasonable gamble by liberals gone bad in the 2006 primary. There isn't anything that liberals can do about it now. Democrats can live with him as he is, knowing that he'll sometimes help them and sometimes won't. That stinks. Or, they can boot him out and live with no chance of having his vote. Face it: he votes like McCaskill or Webb or the Benator or Snowe now; kick him out, and he's going to vote like John McCain.

And that's how it's going to be until his term ends. About the only way out I can see for the Dems would be to elect a Democratic governor of Connecticut next year, and then Obama could appoint Lieberman, oh, Ambassador to Israel or something, and then take the heat when Holy Joe resigns in protest after a few weeks. Until then, though, there isn't much anyone can do.

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