Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It Should Never Have Been Played Out In Public This Way:

John Amato and everyone else I read is cautiously optimistic that yesterday's weird pavane in Max Baucus's hearing went as well as could be expected. I've seen piece after piece analyzing the exact implications of this vote, or that, or this statement, or that. Harkin says a few days ago that we have 51 votes in the Senate as a whole for the Public Option. Nelson's moronic statement to his constituents that no vote will be legitimate without 65 votes is evidence that he is trimming and will vote for a Public Option, maybe. Schumer is cautiously pleased that sheer, righteous, reason and hard facts were enough to partially embarrass a few Dems to switching their votes even though Landrieu and Lincoln and others are still voting against Democratic initiatives and Baucus himself is still voting against his own party.

I just don't get the optimism here. The Democratic Senators who have been signaling, semphoring, bitching, whining, and all but screaming that their interests are not their constituents interests, that their votes are not democratic votes but industry votes, are *not reliable* when the vote gets to the Senate Floor. They can continue to be intransigent, if they want, and if its worth their while. And if its not worth their while because they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the insurance industry then its still not going to be worth their while--in fact its worth more to them--to vote no, or to support a filibuster, at the last minute.

The White House and the Democratic Party as a whole have accepted, for way too long in this process, the notion that there could, or should, be some deference paid to Senatorial position, or status, or even to the notion that these Senators were independent, moral, actors. There has never been any logical, moral, or political reason why a Democratic Senator in a majority party should ever have deferred to the interests of Corporate America or sided with the minority Republican party--not rhetorically and not really. Never. From the get go the White House and Schumer, qua head of the DSCC, and Reid as Majority leader should have insisted that there would never be *any* breaking of ranks on the Public Option. Not only should Baucus never have been allowed to negotiate privately with the Republicans but it should never, ever, have come to the point we saw yesterday where Democratic Senators voted down any Democratic Amendments to Baucus's bill.

Please don't explain to me that Blanche Lincoln, for instance, is "in trouble" in Arkansas. I don't care. And neither should anyone else. She should have been told she would have to take a bullet for National Health Care and if she took it graciously she'd be rewarded after. Or supported more heavily in the eventually Senate fight. But either way her personal fortunes are not my problem.

I look at what happened yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee and I think that, as usual, the Democrats are either too caught up in the process, or too stupid, to grasp that a public hearing and a public committee meeting is a show trial, not the place to hammer out a compromise. Schumer and others think they "won" by shifting a few votes publicly? I think we "lost" because it was clear that the Democrats are pretending that their counterparties--the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems--are acting in good faith and can be reasoned with. They can't. And the same thing is going to happen on the floor of the Senate if the Democrats don't wise up and start playing hardball behind the scenes. They have allowed the few industry friendly Dems, like Carper and Lincoln et al, to hold the stage and attack the Public Option. They have allowed them to essentially piss all over the very idea of a national plan, and a national party. If we proceed to the attempt to merge these bills on the floor without taking care of this problem--the problem of dual loyalty and betrayal--we are going to find ourselves surprised by the fact that we lose our "sixty votes" and perhaps even our 51. We are already losing the public battle for the legitimacy of our policies because of our continued insistence that the Carper's, Nelson's et al be allowed to speak for our party.

Edited to Add:

I see that Joe Sudbay agrees with me.

Edited to Add:
This is what I'm talking about.

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