December 18th, 2009
11:41 AM ET

Dear President Obama #333: Is it really Lieberman's fault?

Reporter's Note: The voters have once again been polled about President Obama. The short story is, half of them think he’s doing a decent job, a little less than half don’t, and the rest are off buying shoes, or eating lunch, or something like that. The longer story is that he is wrestling with some tough issues and paying a political price. Thank goodness he gets free advice every day in my letter to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/15/art.jlieberman.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Is there something I don’t know about Joe Lieberman? Does he cheat at golf, or steal pens, or never pick up the check during Senatorial Happy Hour? I ask only because I am a little puzzled by all the venom being sprayed at him by many of your Democratic pals this week over the health care debate.

Certainly I can understand the frustration of folks who felt like he was proving to be a stumbling block to their dreams of having a government option for health insurance as part of this reform package. I get the equation: The measure could not pass without his vote; he wouldn’t give it if the public option remained in the legislation; so it was dropped to get him to play along. What I don’t get, (and I’m really not trying to be a wise guy about this) is what’s wrong with that?

I thought the whole point of democracy is that we elect people who we believe represent our interests (ha! I laugh every time I say that) and they duke it out over the issues. And that means sometimes they disagree. And sometimes they disagree down to the last vote. But it seems to me if people on the losing side in any debate want to be mad at someone it should be their leadership for letting the issue come down to such a fine line. Could Lieberman’s vote (or the vote of some other Senator) eventually make or break this legislation? Technically yes, but you could just as easily say every single person who votes against it is the “deciding” vote; why didn’t the proponents of this measure do a better job winning them over?

If you have reason to expect some kind of dirty dealing, I guess that would be a different matter. But I haven’t seen evidence of that here, any more than I do in pretty much every contentious vote up on the Hill. And btw, isn’t that what politics is all about?

One more thing: Although Lieberman generally votes with the Democrats, he had to run as an Independent to keep his seat because the party bosses were not exactly in his corner. Why is everyone so surprised now that he’s not going out of his way to be in theirs?

Just wondering. If you have any insights on all this, give me a call. I’m always ready to hear the case against a lawmaker, but in his case, I’m not sure I’ve heard it yet.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Conserve' for USA

    It just goes to show you the dems will eat their young (even though J. Lieberman isn't a dem or very young). How much extra would it cost us (taxpayers) to bribe everyone in the senate like the Louisianna purchase? Let's see 300 million x how many senators?

    December 18, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  2. Boomer in Mo

    Despite good intentions by some, the health care bills are now a mess and all need to be thrown out. Start over. Meanwhile, the GOP apparently is full if illiterate, lazy loudmouths because in the last six months they have had time to read all of the health care verbage floating through Congress, but chose not to. They could have written a bill of their own and got it debated, but chose not to. The next attempts should be written by someone other than former health insurance lobbyists/underwriters hired by the Dems. Let people who have been screwed over by the health care insurers and over-charging, over-treating, greedy doctors come up with the plan.

    December 18, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  3. Dulcie - Denver

    Tom, I'd agree wholeheartedly with you if Lieberman hadn't spoken out in favor of expanding Medicare just a few months ago.

    While it's possible that he's simply had a change of heart upon further review, it just feels like someone got to him and he caved. That's where my venom comes from. However, I want to say that my anger towards him is purely on a professional basis. I would never impugn his wife or family because of it. Personal attacks have no place in a professional setting like politics.

    December 18, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  4. Shay Glass

    Tom, anyone who thinks that this is all just a healthy democracy at work is either in denial, nuts, or doesn't give a damn. It has taken decades to get the kind of support needed to overcome a Republican filibuster on healthcare reform. This is not a tax issue that can be fixed next term, this is a one shot, life or death issue for millions of Americans. 70% of Americans, a majority of the house, and a majority of the senate support this. Lieberman, at the behest of big insurance lobby money, decided to employ a procedural tactic to circumvent the will if the American people on an issue that affects thier health and thier financial well-being. Shame on Leiberman, and shame on anyone who thinks this is just politics as usual. Merry Christmas!

    December 18, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  5. Sustainable Energy Man

    Every developed country in the world has a public healthcare system. Only in the USA are people willing to let their fellow citizens die for the crime of being too poor to pay the while ceo's take billions in profits. The question is how many people did the republicans and independents kill along with the public option. follow me on twitter @Sustainablehero

    December 18, 2009 at 9:06 am |