In 2006, progressives joined forces to try to oust Senator Joe Lieberman from his Senate seat in Connecticut. It was liberal purity in action; Lieberman believed that Iraq was worth fighting, and that simply was not allowable in the Democratic Party.
After an ugly nomination process that Lieberman lost, he came back and won as an independent. And ever since, he has been a thorn in the side of his former Party. He maintained his chairmanship because otherwise, he would have defected. And with key votes on almost every issue, Lieberman has become the Sandra Day O’Connor of the Senate…the vital swing vote.
The latest is health care. Gross incompetence from the Democratic leadership has allowed everyone with their own opinion on anything to make absolute demands…or watch the entire health care reform bill go down in flames. Lieberman did exactly that this week, when he demanded that the Medicare buy-in, the public option, and the trigger option all be removed from the Senate bill. Without 60 votes, Obama had no alternative, and ordered Reid to accept the compromise.
For Republicans, this is not a best case scenario…best would have been both sides fighting to the ‘political’ death. But this is certainly better than the worst case scenario.
But again, the purity standard that liberals have attack conservatives on is coming back to bite them in the ass. Progressives in the house demanded abortion coverage…and moderates defected. Budget hawks in the Senate demand the bill to be under $1 trillion…and the House really doesn’t care about the cost.
Ultimately, to pass this bill, the liberals are going to have to give up more ground to get moderates to come aboard. Stupak and his cohort in the House still hold a huge bargaining chip for the abortion proposal. And every single Senator on the left holds immense weight on the Senate side, and basically can demand whatever they want. Progressives are again going to have to bow to pressure from moderates…which is what happens when you demand too much political purity. Conservatives take note for the future.
UPDATE: To no one’s surprise, the liberals conceded to Lieberman, and there appears to be a deal on the table. Now, if Ben Nelson and others can be brought aboard, the abortion issues solved, and then progressives in the House have to give up their most precious ideals…well, you get the idea.
UPDATE #2: As if to prove my point, Howard Dean has come out against the Senate bill, and has asked liberals to vote it down. And Ben Nelson said he is still not voting for the bill. I love when I prove to be omniscient.