Monday, November 23, 2009

The DINO Holdout Outrage: In Praise of Landrieu but Not Lincoln, Nelson, and Traitor Joe

In electoral politics, what often “dictates” the balance between principle and expediency is the next election. When Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas took the Senate floor to announce they would vote to invoke cloture on the healthcare bill and allow debate to begin, a Martian alien sitting in the gallery would have correctly deduced that, of the two, Senator Lincoln was the one facing a tough reelection campaign in 2010.

Disregard self-serving language about serving the people of [enter state: Arkansas] and not being “dictated to” by outside liberal groups [enter populist language], or the insurance companies [enter wink-and-a-nod to master donors]. Blanche Lincoln vowed to oppose a “government-run public option” even though the people of Arkansas support a government-run public option by 55%-38%. Altogether, the uninsured Americans in the states represented by the four senators in the Democratic Caucus who are threatening to tear down healthcare reform –- Lincoln, Landrieu, Lieberman, and Nelson –- number roughly 2 million people.

The common denominator among these four conservative Senate Democrats are the millions in campaign contributions from the wealthcare insurance industry and Big Pharma. The common denominator between the wealthcare insurance industry and Big Pharma is their intention to kill healthcare reform and the public option, outspending reform advocates by 2-1. REAL Democrats are fed up. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has had enough. With a right back at ya to Senator Lincoln, he said 56 Democrats in the Democratic Caucus will not be “dictated to” by four senators.

Way to go, Senator Brown. The President needs to step up to the plate and read these senators the Riot Act. (Sorry for sounding redundant.) The President’s studied indifference (think Waiting for Godot) in taking a strong stand and twisting some arms is showing up in his approval ratings, which will continue their southward slide unless Barack Obama reins in the DINOS with tough Johnson-esque cajoling. Astonishingly, Harry Reid has channeled LBJ much more effectively than President Obama.

Given the large Democratic majorities in Arkansas Senator Lincoln has infuriated, her political posture is, frankly, incomprehensible. Senator Lincoln’s grousing at outside liberal groups is ridiculous and self-serving. First, these groups comprise a substantial portion of Lincoln’s donor base. Second, the message carried by the netroots campaign in Arkansas simply informs voters of the Senator’s refusal to heed the wishes of 55% of Arkansans that support a public option.

What Senator Lincoln calls meddling by outside groups they call bringing sunshine to the process and forcing Lincoln to be accountable to her constituents. With hundreds of thousands of uninsured Americans in Arkansas alone, no apologies are forthcoming for inconveniencing Senator Lincoln. To the contrary, outside liberal groups will continue to ramp up the pressure. Go ahead, Senator Lincoln. Turn your back on the people of Arkansas, and they will defeat you. A strong candidate, Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter, is waiting in the wings to pose a primary challenge on the question of a public option should you vote to destroy healthcare reform.

Conversely, the attacks on Senator Mary Landrieu by wingnut hate pimps Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are despicable. They called Senator Landrieu an “expensive prostitute” for negotiating with Harry Reid a $300 million natural disaster Medicaid package for Louisiana, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The Bush Administration’s criminal neglect of Louisiana, depopulating the state of thousands of destitute residents -- an ethnic cleansing that has colored it lighter and more Republican -- made Senator Landrieu’s intervention on behalf of the poverty-stricken residents that remained an absolute moral imperative. She took the point on this issue, and sustained withering attacks by the wingnut blogosphere, with nothing but obscure, timid support by every Republican in Louisiana, from the governor on down.

Senator Mary Landrieu has received tough but deserved criticism on this blog for her public option flip-flop, but on the question of Medicaid disaster relief for her state she is completely in the right. It should be noted that the depopulation of New Orleans in the wake of the Katrina disaster robbed Senator Landrieu of a large chunk of her Democratic base in Louisiana. She can be forgiven a vote against the public option on an up-or-down floor vote, but should not, under any circumstances, filibuster final passage of the bill.

The worst thing Harry Reid can do is cave to the four DINO holdouts in the Democratic Caucus and accept a watered-down pro-insurance bill. If they do not fall in line, there’s always the simple majority of the reconciliation process. If forced to go this route, Mr. Reid should strip the DINOS of their committee chairmanships and privileges.

What can they do? Threaten to switch parties? Please, DINOS, there's the door. If you cannot support the Democratic Party on procedural votes, what are you good for? Don't let the Caucus door hit you on the way out.

Before I forget, there are two more inductees to The Thinker Hall of Shame: DINO Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. This brings the number of Hall of Shame laureates to four -- Mary Landrieu, Bart Stupak, Blanche Lincoln, and Ben Nelson -- with one non-DINO inductee, “Independent” Traitor Joe Lieberman. Hopefully Landrieu, Lincoln, and Nelson can be persuaded to return to the Democratic fold once more. Bart Stupak the Christian anti-choice stealth crusader, whose allegiance is to the C Street Religious Right mafia, never was a Democrat.

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