Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joseph Lieberman, Worth Less than Worthless

Again, Joe Lieberman goes out of his way to impede the Democratic Party.
“You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,” Mr. Lieberman said. “You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.”

Class Act refers to a federal insurance program for long-term care, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act.

Mr. Lieberman said he would have “a hard time” voting for a bill with the Medicare buy-in.

“It has some of the same infirmities that the public option did,” he said. “It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It’s unnecessary. The basic bill, which has a lot of good things in it, provides a generous new system of subsidies for people between ages 55 and 65, and choice and competition.”
A vote that "gets you to sixty" is no good if he's always voting against you. Lieberman should be made to understand that it's a deciding moment - if he can't vote for healthcare reform he should be kicked to the curb - he wants to be a Republican, fine, he can caucus with them. Who needs the narcissistic psychodrama.

Update: This is about right.

Update II: Via TPM, Lieberman supported Medicare buy-ins before he opposed them, advocating the idea as long ago as 2000 and as recently as three months ago. Presumably, since that time, the insurance industry lobbyists for whom he carries water set him straight.

Update III: I hardly know what to say. Somebody's arguing with a straight face that Lieberman not only deserves the benefit of the doubt, but that it's a "venomous slam" to infer the obvious from his actions - something his defender concedes (with no other explanation offered) may be "a little pay back" against his former party or "shilling for his home state insurance interests"?

Update IV: Did you read the post on zombie arguments? Jonathan Chait argues that the problem is not so much that Lieberman is mendacious, as much as it is that he's not very smart.
If Senator Smith from Idaho was angering Democrats by spewing uninformed platitudes, most liberals would deride him as an idiot. With Lieberman, we all suspect it's part of a plan. I think he just has no idea what he's talking about and doesn't care to learn.
Perhaps, but a lot of the time politicians say stupid things it's because they see a benefit from doing so, not because they're (necessarily) stupid.

Update V: (Am I turning into Glenn Greenwald?) The New York Times shares the brilliant insight,
But Mr. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, is not the least troubled by his status as Capitol Hill’s master infuriator.

In fact, he could not be happier. He is right where he wants to be — at the center of the political aisle, the center of the Democrats’ efforts to win 60 votes for their sweeping health care legislation. In short, he is at the center of everything and he loves it.
You think that might be because he's a narcissist, getting lots of attention for his childish pay-back against his former party from a credulous media that, even by Chait's measure, makes him look smart? Incidentally, I see very few comments indicating anger at Lieberman - I see anger at those who let him play Lucy, time and time again pulling the football away from Charlie Brown without consequence. People, including Dems, want the Dems to grow a backbone. (And please, no protest from his fellows, "I've known him for years. He's my friend!" When was the last time he showed any loyalty to anybody other than John McCain (was it GW?) or gave any indication of interest in the views or concerns of his old friends?)

Update VI: Joe Biden chimes in with a platitude that seemingly builds off of "never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity":
But Biden said "honest to god" he doesn't know what is up with Lieberman (I-CT), whose opposition to elements of the health care bill has put Democrats in a major jam. But he added he learned from his own senate service, "never question another man's motive, question his judgment."
Still, when you have somebody do things that appear malicious, time and time again, you do have to remember - some people truly are malicious.

I suspect that part of the problem is that Senators are remembering the Joe Lieberman they (thought they) knew before his narcissistic bubble was pierced - they can't believe he's changed. They're right - he hasn't changed a bit. Back then, Lieberman helped himself by helping them. Now he helps himself by hurting them.

Update VII:

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