Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Next “‘Profile’ in Courage”?

A loyal reader wrote and asked if there was ‘any hope’ that this health care reform (sic?) bill will die an ignoble death in the US Senate because it is so expensive, cumbersome and won’t improve health care in America.

Which are the exact opposite outcomes we all wanted from it in the first place.

President John Kennedy supposedly wrote 'Profiles in Courage’ before his run for the White House as a way to get his name out there among the American people.  Ted Sorenson actually wrote it, just as he wrote many or most of Kennedy’s speeches, but you gotta have great assistants and staff if you are going to succeed in American politics, don’t you?

We think the next book might be very brief, like 2-3 pages long, because it might be named: “A Single Solitary Profile In Courage’ starring either Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln-Lambert of Arkansas or Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Those are the 4 Democrat Senators who have expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the health care bill, although Senator Landrieu acceded to the old Louisianan adage, ‘My vote can’t be bought…but it can be rented for a little while!’ when she got $100 million in Medicaid funding for Louisiana to vote for cloture and allow debate to begin last week.

It will only take 1 Democratic Senator (as long as Republicans such as Voinovich of Ohio and Snowe and Collins of Maine vote ‘no’ which is an ‘iffy’ proposition) to stand up in opposition to this health care bill on final passage to send it back to the drawing board, or the trash heap of history, as another failed attempt to install a massive government-run and controlled health care system in America.

We think it will be Senator Lieberman…we hope and pray, and we’ll explain why.

First of all, you have to understand the rules of the U.S. Senate, the ‘World’s Greatest Deliberative Body’, like when political giants and orators such as Daniel Webster and Henry Clay are there, not so much lately with the current crop of Senators.

We went through several days of training by a former Senate parliamentarian early in the term of Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2003 and learned all about the history of the rules and procedures.

The important thing to remember is that the Senate is an organism governed by seniority first and foremost and senatorial courtesy and comity second.  One senator can muck up the whole process for the 99 other senators through such mechanisms as ‘unanimous consent’ (necessary to advance a bill on the floor) and the senatorial ‘hold’ where 1 senator can place a hold on any bill that would prevent it from being considered by the entire body.

Such procedures are an out-growth of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson’s reading and complete understanding of the Roman Republic and how those ancient senators considered legislation.

But the most telling thing we ever heard out of the former parliamentarian’s mouth was this stunning comment:  “Just always remember:  In the U.S. Senate, the only rule is that there are no rules!”

Which we found to be true. So basically, a U.S. Senator has more power to directly or indirectly influence legislation than the President or any member of the House of Representatives.

Which brings us back to Senator Joe Lieberman.

He was spurned by the Democratic Party in Connecticut and then elected as a true blue Independent Senator by the constituents of his state. He has no reason not to be objective and clear-headed about his decision on final passage.  He is a deeply devout Jew who regularly attends Scripture reading groups on Capitol Hill and regularly votes his conscience despite his political affiliation.

We can all hope and pray he votes on the health care bill in the best interests of the nation with a clear conscience.

He has the power to shut this whole health care debate down on final passage if he withholds his vote on cloture which will deny the Democrats the 60-votes necessary to do so.  Otherwise, debate can go on forever and ever like it used to do during the great filibusters of our history.

Senators would read the Bible and the dictionary into the Senate record and stay on their feet for days at a time and hold the floor so no one else could talk about anything. Senators would do anything possible to delay the final vote which was one significant way the senate rules sought to allow the minority party some leverage and power to shape final legislation.  The tactic was used to shape some reasonable compromise more in the middle of the political spectrum, not stay on the fringes of either side as we have gravitated to over the past two decades.

And, if voting in the national interest is not enough, Senator Lieberman has one more over-riding prime objective to defeat the health care bill if it has a ‘public option’ in it in any way, shape or form:  He is from Connecticut, the home to the major health insurance companies, and hundreds of thousands of employees who are his constituents and who can either vote for him or against him.

Always remember that this is the most important factor in the minds of any elected politician: re-election.

As Professor Venkman said to the Mayor in ‘Ghostbusters':  "But if we're right, and we can stop this thing, Lenny (Joe Lieberman)...you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters!"

And saved future generations trillions of dollars we don't have to spend.

courtesy of www.afpn.org

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