One of many classic episodes of Seinfeld was "The Opposite" -- the finale of season five. While George decides to ignore his instincts and behave in the exact opposite way he normally would, the B-story involves Elaine's boyfriend, Jake Jarmel, being hit by a cab. And instead of rushing to the hospital, Elaine stops at a movie theater concession stand and buys a box of Jujyfruits -- completely unfazed by the gravity of the situation.
When it comes to health care reform, Joe Lieberman is Elaine times a thousand.
So are Ben Nelson, Tom Carper, Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh. But let's focus on Lieberman since his emergence in this situation was dropped like a ton of bricks -- rubbery, fruity bricks -- seemingly out of nowhere, whereas the rest of these conservative Democrats have more or less been enemies of real reform since the process began.
With every month that goes by without health care reform, another 3,600 Americans die due to a lack of insurance. More deaths than 9/11 every 30 days. Every 30 seconds, another family slips into medical bankruptcy, potentially losing everything simply because they were unlucky enough to become sick or injured in a for-profit system that's gamed in favor of the house. There are nearly 300,000 uninsured American adults in Lieberman's home state of Connecticut alone, not to mention 53,000 uninsured children.
And Joe Lieberman, along with his conservadem friends, are stopping off for Jujyfruits. Political favors. Attention. Spotlight. Concessions -- literally and figuratively.
By shamelessly seeking attention via a filibuster threat against health care reform, Joe Lieberman is putting his own political ambitions ahead of American lives. This selfish acting out -- this pathetic, insufferable emergence of The Lieberman at reform's eleventh hour ought to further seal his legacy as one of the U.S. Senate's most greedy, self-serving political hacks.
Make no mistake. By merely threatening a filibuster, Joe Lieberman is, in effect, filibustering health care reform. It's not a threat. He's doing it right now. He's delaying reform and creating another unnecessary obstruction in a process that surely doesn't suffer from a lack of delays imposed by everyone from lobbyists to careerist political bastards.
So what's his gripe?
Lieberman's first, only and most ridiculous gripe with health care reform (so far) is that, somehow, reform with a public option will increase the deficit. This is, naturally, a lie. He's making it up because, as we're well aware, the CBO reported that the House bill, featuring a "level playing field" public option and no opt-out language, will reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $100 billion over ten years, with further deficit reduction in the subsequent ten years.
What makes this whole thing even more insane is that Lieberman actually supported the public option when he ran for president in 2004.
To date, he really doesn't have any substantive reason to be filibustering the public option other than this lie about the deficit. And so we're left with no other justification other than to peg his obstructionism as sheer hubris and drama queen posturing.
Elaine inappropriately delayed her rush to the hospital in order to stop off for Jujyfruits. Why? Because she likes Jujyfruits, and so Jujyfruits took precedent over her injured friend. It was about self-indulgence, and that explains everything Lieberman has done since 2006.
He's clearly a man who's grappling with irrelevance, so he needs to be needed -- as long as his vote becomes necessary for passing reform, he's relevant. For the wrong reasons, but relevant nonetheless. He's obstructing because he can. Meanwhile, Lieberman seems to have made it his mission to take a piss on the left whenever possible. And in doing so, he also believes he'll win friends on the right -- he's also attempting to out-flank Republican Olympia Snowe on the public option. Though beyond his comfy McCain-Graham orbit, he's trying to win acceptance in a Republican Party that's rapidly purging its ranks of anyone in the middle. So it seems like that path is a dead end as well.
He's admired by neither the left nor the right. He's that weasely kid from recess who would constantly pit one clique of friends against the other -- making friends with neither.
Meanwhile, every second that Lieberman performs this infuriating filibuster routine is another second without reform. Every second spent ameliorating the Lieberman filibuster -- massaging his ego with kid gloves and determining exactly what it is he wants -- is another second without reform. Instead of a comprehensive health care bill, we're getting a lot of unnecessary drama circulating around Joe Lieberman's masturbatory ego trip. He wins some press attention and lots of urgent calls from the White House and Harry Reid's office, while the rest of us are jammed with the medical bills.
All in all, there's no other way to peg Lieberman other than as a desperate hack who will thoughtlessly hurl thousands of Americans overboard for the sake of his unquenchable lust for attention, and his childish, vengeful hobby of tweaking the left.
Help us unseat this guy next time around, Connecticut. After all, he's playing politics with your lives. He's stopping off for Jujyfruits when he should be, you know, helping you. And there's no excuse.