"The extraordinary thing about the dramatic events surrounding the health care bill in the Senate is that there was any drama at all. Lawmakers were simply voting to begin debate on the Democratic version of health care reform. Just begin debate -- not end it, and not move on to a final vote.
If Democrats, with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, had not been able to begin debate on the top Democratic policy priority in a generation -- well, that would have been a devastating turn of events, both for the party and for President Obama.
And yet just starting debate proved difficult, and only on the last day did the 60th Democratic vote fall in place in favor of beginning the process. I asked a high-ranking Republican Senate source whether it was really that hard to get the Democratic votes together.
Could it have been a media-fed story, with reporters looking to inject some unwarranted drama into the proceedings? No, I was told. "It really was that hard for them to get to 60 just to proceed," the source said.
"Very telling." And judging by the statements of four moderate Democrats -- Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson -- it will be far, far harder when the process comes to the really important vote, the one that would bring debate to a close and move on to an up-or-down vote on the Democrats' health care plan. On Saturday, all four of those Democrats publicly threatened to side with Republicans and kill the bill before it can move to a final vote, unless their concerns are met.
"If the bill remains where it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage," Sen. Joseph Lieberman said. "I'm prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included," said Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
"My vote to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end," said Sen. Mary Landrieu. And Sen. Ben Nelson said he will "oppose the second cloture motion -- needing 60 votes -- to end debate, and oppose the final bill" if major changes are not made."
So now the real battle begins.
As I said before Both Laudrieu and Lincoln can basically kiss their ample rear ends goodbye.
Pundits said that voting to proceed would be a "safe vote" and wouldn't hurt their political chances. But that's nonsense. Both are facing daunting odds in retaining their seats and both had receive the message from constituents that they were not to support this bill in any measure.
We know that Laudrieu was "paid off" and has other campaign corruption problems, and we've yet to find out what Lincoln received. Nevertheless York is right that this vote was ridiculously weak for the Democrats, much like the squeaker in the House.
NOTHING is a done deal yet and we have a very good chance of derailing this mess before it gets any further.
But we'll have to get busy. It's more than just emails and faxes - although that's important to. It's about "getting in their face", and that means to get nasty. NOTHING has ever been more important to fight about in this country.
We are witnessing the minority - that's the people who truly want government run health care - running over the majority - that's the people who don't.
We need to get that majority up and at 'em. We need to keep this evil stalled at least through Summer of 2010. By then the elections loom and we stand to gain 50+ seats and thus the power to finally nail the coffin on this power grab.