I try not to watch the Sunday political shows. If God had wanted me to engage in such an activity, he would have provided me with a small hammer with which I could repeatedly smack myself in the head once a week for three hours.
This does, however, mean that I occasionally miss things--like Joe Lieberman making the rounds to say that no, he will not vote for any plan that has a medicare buy in, a public option, or basically any of the other proposals to throw liberals a bone.
The progressives are, of course . . . well, livid is probably too weak a word. At this point it's hard to see them getting to sixty votes on anything. Frankly, I'm not sure that a majority of legislators want them to get to sixty votes on anything. Every time health care makes the news, its poll numbers drop further, and at 54-38 against, it's already dangerously close to "Republican landslide if you pass it" territory. Outside of coastal enclaves, Democrats cannot win the next round of elections with no one but their base. And independents, already against the plan, especially hate partisanship. This makes it especially unhealthy to pass a bill they don't like on a straight party line vote.
Still, the question remains: what the hell is Joe Lieberman thinking? Sure, he can get away with these antics as long as he is the 60th vote. No matter how furious Democrats are, they are not going to punish him as long as he can break a filibuster for them.
But that's another year. Then what? It's highly unlikely that Democrats will keep exactly 58 seats plus Bernie Sanders. At that point, one way or another, Joe Lieberman becomes largely superfluous. And the Democrats are going to have their knives out.
The obvious move is to become a Republican (or at least caucus with them). Republicans will make Lieberman King of the Senate, if he kills this bill for him. But it's not mathematically possible for Republicans to take back the Senate--I mean, it is, but not if you look at the third of states that have Senators up for reelection in 2010.
So why has he jerked around the Democrats so hard? Payback for the primary challenge, protecting his home state's powerful insurance interests, or just a principled aversion to health care?
I'm not sure there's any way to tell. But it's going to be an interesting few weeks.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.