As the Senate Finance Committee worked towards passing Max Baucus’ reform bill, moderate Repbulican Senator Olympia Snowe was courted more aggressively than Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Everyone from her fellow Senators to the President made it known that they wanted–nigh needed–her vote in committee.
Well, they got her vote, and then Harry Reid quickly announced that an “opt-out” public option, rather than the so-called “trigger option” favored by Snowe, would make its way into the bill that reaches the Senate floor. Just as quickly, Snowe made her disapproval known, indicating that she would not support such a bill. Now, of course her suitors would like her to come back around to their way of thinking, but they’re really not quite as adamant in their wooing of her anymore. After all, they don’t need her vote to pass a bill.
The tricky part is getting to the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster so that a simple up-or-down vote can be held, and this will require that the Democrats and two independents–Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders–don’t break ranks, and this is where Snowe’s popularity contest has set a slippery slope precedent. We must never forget that this is politics just as much as it is policy, and part of politics is a love of the spotlight.
Enter Joe Lieberman who recently announced that he will filibuster the Senate bill so long as it includes any version of a public option–including Sen. Reid’s “opt-out” compromise. Despite recent polls showing that nearly three-quarters of Americans support the public option, Lieberman’s making a fuss over it. One has to wonder why? It could be because he wants to play hardball and negotiate certain provisions into the legislation. It could be. But it isn’t. Lieberman’s not pushing for anything new to be added to the bill, he’s just being difficult. But he’s obviously hoping to get something out of that. What you ask? I think it’s simple. He’s a Senator and he wants another 15 minutes of fame. It really is pitiful. Just one look at Droopy and I want to employ my favorite passive-aggressive southern phrase: “Oh, bless his lil’ heart.”