Saturday, 19 December 2009

Me, my son and Joe Lieberman

My sixteen year old son and I have been having daily disagreements about the progress of health care reform in the US. He takes his political views from the Young Turks and, if we lived in America, would probably be a paid-up member of Move My son thinks the White House isn’t doing enough to push through progressive change, while I still trust Obama’s political instints to get the best deal in difficult circumstances. Or to put it another way: he’s a young idealist, while I’ve become a stodgy middle-aged pragmatist.

One area where we can find common ground, though, is in our contempt for Joe Lieberman. Michael Tomasky is surely right that there’s something wrong with a political system where 60 votes – or three fifths of all senators - are regularly required to end the debate and move to a final vote. As Michael says:

Getting those 57th, 58th, 59th and 60th votes to end debate … Well, the situation gives those senators incredible bargaining power. They can basically dictate terms in exchange for their votes.

Which is exactly what the independent senator from Connecticut has been doing these past few weeks. That one senator could hold the future of health care for millions of Americans in his hands is surely a cause for concern, and it threatens to make a nonsense of the overwhelming democratic vote that swept Barack Obama to power last year.

But of course this is not just any senator - certainly not one who could be seen as heroically resisting change out of deeply-held political idealism. This is, after all, the turncoat who campaigned against his own party's candidate for president, endorsing not only a supposedly 'moderate' Republican but also his reactionary-populist running mate. Not only that: Lieberman has been described as an 'insurance puppet' because of the huge funding support he's received from the health insurance industry. And as I mentioned in this post, he also took generous campaign contributions from the right-wing Contra-supporting Cuban American National Foundation and its godfather Jorge Mas Canosa. Some liberal.

In short (and I apologise for the unseasonal sentiment), Lieberman sucks. Or to continue with the puppetry theme: maybe that should be socks:


Martin said...
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Martin said...
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TNC said...

Got to disagree with you (and your son) on this, Martin. Lieberman is one of the few decent politicians we have left in this county. He is always very clear and up front about how he will vote and the reasons for his doing so.

People may not like the way he votes, which is fine. But to suggest he votes the way he does because he is a puppet of the insurance industry is simply not accurate. He has been outspoken and on the record regarding his opposition to the insurance industry position many times (constant increases in premiums, refusing people insurance for preexisting conditions, etc.).

I heard a reporter from the Nation claim that this was less about Liberman's connection to the insurance industry than his desire to an "obstructionist" or a "kingmaker".

Why is that when a leftist candidate takes a position it is due to their convictions/ideology/worldview but when someone on the center or the right does the same it is always reduced to materialist explanations or that the person is some sort of power-hungry evil person?

Lastly, when you write he is a:

"turncoat who campaigned against his own party's candidate for president"

You are only partially correct. Lieberman did campaign for McCain, but he is not a Democrat, he is an Independent? And why is he an Independent? Because the Democratic Party kicked him to the curb because he failed to take the "progressive" position on the Iraq War. The party ran an anti-war candidate Ned Lamont who lost even though Connecticut is an overwhelmingly "blue" state.

TNC said...
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