Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dems pamper Joe Lieberman—and he betrays them


By PAT MURPHY

When the history of Barack Obama's presidency is written, an indescribably demeaning low point was when the Senate's least-trusted member and its most irritating whiner, Joe Lieberman, was positioned to single-handedly sabotage the premier Obama program, wide-ranging health care reform, by demanding changes that could gut legislation.

The president and spineless Democrats had this coming. They've been pandering to Lieberman in hopes he'd be their wrapup 60th vote for health care, despite his unseemly trail of disloyalty.

Lieberman is not a man who remembers or repays favors—except through political treachery and duplicity.

He began revealing himself after Connecticut Democrats rejected him for re-election in 2006. Unchastened, Lieberman ran as an Independent and was re-elected to another Senate term.

To buy Lieberman's loyalty, Senate Democrats agreed to give him the chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

By this time, Lieberman had shed his loyalty to Democrats who'd nominated him to be Al Gore's vice presidential running mate in 2000.

Lieberman began his repudiation of his old ties by speaking at the Republican convention that nominated John McCain to run against Barack Obama, and made certain Democrats understood his treachery by sidekicking with John McCain on the campaign trail and overseas trips. He was McCain's shadow.

Still, Democrats continued sucking up to Lieberman, even allowing him into their closed-door caucus sessions. Could anyone trust him not to run to the Republicans and report what he'd heard about legislative strategy?

Then Lieberman began hitting his stride as a turncoat when the Obama health care debate began.

He first announced his adamant opposition to the public option—that is, government insurance as an option to private insurance. The fact that his home state of Connecticut is a virtual capital to the U.S. insurance industry with all the corporate headquarters had nothing to do with his opposition, he insisted. Sure.

Then by December, he also was flatly against expanding Medicare to allow people of pre-Medicare ages to buy into the program—despite telling the Connecticut Post in a September interview that he favored allowing "people who have retired early or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and (are) too young to qualify for Medicare ... (to) have an option to buy into Medicare early."

Then Lieberman announced he might join Republicans in filibustering against any health care bill that didn't meet his unspecified tastes.

So, Lieberman continues to attend Democratic Party caucuses and continues to hold the Homeland Security Committee chair.

Who knew betrayal, disloyalty and deceit could be so rewarded in Democratic circles?




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