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 December, 2009


 Joe Lieberman's Head Fake About a Filibsuter

Smokin’ Joe Lieberman’s Heavyweight Knockout!

This doesn’t have anything to do with sports.

I’m just using a sports parable to get to the meat of the matter – national politics.

In 1965, when the UCLA basketball team was the two-time defending national champion, the first game they played at legendary Pauley Pavilion was against their own freshman basketball team.

In those days, freshmen weren’t permitted to play on their varsity teams.

So, their highly recruited freshman, Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) faced off against a varsity team that was ranked number one in the country.

Alcindor scored 31 points, pulled down 21 rebounds and he and his fellow freshman beat the nation’s top ranked team by a score of 75-60.

UCLA’s varsity basketball team was number one in the country, but they were only number two on their own campus.

Here’s the tie-in to national politics.

Barack Obama is the most powerful man in the world, but he’s not even the most powerful man in Washington. Joe Lieberman is.

Lieberman was able to stop a healthcare reform bill in its tracks, merely by head faking his intentions to filibuster it.

He’s supposed to be some sort of Democrat, but he’s acting more like a spoiled brat.

His final tantrum over a Medicare buy-in proposal that could have provided low cost medical coverage to millions of Americans was in direct conflict with the Joe Lieberman of only three months ago.

“When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group post 50, maybe more like post 55. People who have retired early, or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they're too young to qualify for Medicare and what I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into
Medicare early,” Lieberman told a Connecticut newspaper in September.

Well that’s exactly what the Democrats recently proposed, but Lieberman threatened to lead a filibuster against last week.

Suddenly the White House and the U.S. Senate were looking for ways to appease the most vocal healthcare reform detractor, but to no avail.

Lieberman got what he wanted – practically nothing.

It’s worth noting that Connecticut is considered one of the “Insurance Capitals of the World.” Lieberman’s resistance to bucking an industry that has contributed over a million dollars to him is pretty obvious.

But there’s more.

Perhaps it goes back to a Democratic Party that didn’t support him in his senatorial re-election bid back in 1996.

He lost in the primaries, ran as something called an Independent Democratic in the general election and won anyway.

He’d already exacted his pound of political flesh (we thought) when he chose to campaign arm-in-arm with his pal John McCain in 2008 – after he’d spoken on his behalf at the Republican National Convention.

After the election, the Democrats still welcomed him back into their fold. They needed his vote to prevent filibusters. Instead he’s threatening to cause them.

Lieberman’s flip/flop on Medicare is mild compared to his change of heart (providing he has one) regarding filibusters.

Since the summer he’s promised to filibuster anything that doesn’t suit him.

Without his vote the Democrats can’t really hope to pass any meaningful healthcare reform.

Lieberman knows that. He’s been a staunch advocate of curtailing filibusters in the past.

He knows that one U.S. Senator can hold the entire congress and the president hostage – if they’re the key to a 60 vote filibuster-proof bill.

Yet, the Congressional Record shows Lieberman was the main co-sponsor of a provision in 1995 that would have prevented that.

"The majority ought to have the opportunity to try to pass its program or be held accountable for it. And this filibuster frustrates that opportunity," was his principled stand against filibusters back then.

Now, though, he’s calling the shots. He’s become the most important (and most disliked) man on Capitol Hill.

With an estimated 45,000 Americans dying annually because they don’t have health insurance, and 60% of the nation’s bankruptcies caused by health related bills people can’t pay, King Lieberman has become a one man Party of No.

Edward A. Owens is a three time Emmy Award winner and 20 year veteran of television news. E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net