Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) insists that the White House did not pressure him to get in line behind either a public health insurance option or a Medicare buy-in compromise during the health care debate this year.
"Well, no. I think I got pressure from the president to be for health care reform," Lieberman said when asked by HuffPost about any pressure from the administration to support either the public option or the Medicare buy-in. "I’d have to think about this, but I didn’t really have direct input from the White House on this."
He added that Nancy-Ann DeParle, a top administration health care aide, downplayed the public option’s significance early in the debate.
More after the jump.
You'd think that if President Obama really wanted a public option, instead of selling it off back this spring to keep PhRMA from running "Harry and Louise" ads night and day, he would have lobbied guys and gals like Lieberman and Landrieu and Nelson and Lincoln. But noooooo -- even as Rahm spent the past year taking the political equivalent of tire irons to progressive legislators and progressive groups, the Fellacious Four in the Senate were coddled beyond belief.
The same dynamic held and holds sway in the House, too, as Maxine Waters pointed out this summer. The House's conservative-Democrat Blue Dogs are protected, whereas the folks from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party get sucker-punched and browbeaten.
Now, we don't have much direct influence over the Blue Dogs -- this is probably about the best we ourselves can do directly, especially for those of us who don't live in these districts. But the White House sure does; they just choose not to use it. The only way to get Rahm and Obama to listen to us is to make it clear that crossing progressives yet again will hurt them more than going back on their deal with PhRMA.
UPDATE: polar bear reminds me that even as Obama and Rahm were giving tongue baths to ConservaDems like Lieberman and giving them everything the ConDems wanted, they were issuing not-so-veiled threats to progressives who weren't willing to sit still for the total capitulation, in health care reform, the bank bailout, or other issues, to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party:
Obama himself has taken notice.
"Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother," Obama told DeFazio during a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, according to members afterward.
But poking a stick at those in power is what DeFazio does.
In case you're wondering, Rep. DeFazio is indeed one of the Democratic congressmembers that signed the letter promising not to vote for any HCR bill without a public option. Funny how guys like that get threats while guys like Lieberman get pets.