Meanwhile, our story continues as Burt Cooper's right-hand gal Cassandra catches up with Don Draper having another liquid lunch.
She joins him for a quick drink, but tells him that there's another big shake-up at Sterling Cooper and he needs to get back there if he wants to save his job. Don rushes back to the office where he finds new boss Dave S has taken the reins firmly in hand.
Dave tells Don he's keeping him on---for now. But he's bringing in some fresh talent and Don's going to have his work cut out for him if he's going to keep up with the new guy, the dashing and dapper Mike Morgan!
Little do any of them know, however, that behind the scenes Amanda Marcotte is quietly planning her take over of the firm by rallying the major clients, including Utz and London Fog, to her department.
The existing system doesn’t just break up families, it also costs lives. A 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, found that lack of health insurance causes 18,000 unnecessary deaths a year. That’s one person slipping through the cracks and dying every half an hour.
In short, it’s a good bet that our existing dysfunctional health system knocks off far more people than an army of “death panels” could — even if they existed, worked 24/7 and got around in a fleet of black helicopters.
So, for those of you inclined to believe the worst about President Obama, think it through. Suppose he is indeed a secret, foreign-born Muslim agent who is scheming to undermine American family values while killing off as many grandmothers as possible.
If all that were true, why on earth would he be trying so hard to reform our health care system? We already know how to prod families into divorce and take a life unnecessarily every 30 minutes — all we need to do is reject reform and stick with exactly what we have.
Running through a lot of contemporary conservative thought is the right’s staggering lack of faith in the power of western civilization’s achievements. Liberal democracy has brought us a great deal of peace and prosperity, and time and again liberal societies have proved stronger than our autocratic rivals. But the right seems obsessed with the idea that impoverished and backward social values, or else dictatorial political institutions, offer the key to world-historical success. Thus Europe, supposedly, would be stronger if it re-embraced fratricidal violence and the United States would be more secure if we embraced the methods of the KGB.
Lance Mannion has instructed his lawyers and executors that he wishes to be buried out of his old parish church, the church where he made his First Communion and his Confirmation, the church where he was an altar boy for so many years. But he has one request. No priests.
Mom Mannion's mom was a Republican. Richard Nixon wasn't just her favorite politician. She loved him. I'm not sure how she felt about the Kennedys---for obvious reasons I avoided talking politics with her---but she and Ted would have gotten along great, because like him she loved to sing and whatever their political differences she knew that our common enemies are sorrow and pain, which is probably why, like Ted Kennedy, she saw it as her job to take care of everybody she met. Probably why this was one of her favorites too. I'm sure she'd have liked it if we'd sung it for when it was her turn to go, but she was lucky enough to die at Christimastime, her favorite season, and so we sung her out with Christmas carols. I can hear her singing along here in her thin, high, reedy, sweet voice:
There is such a thing as an edible, nay, delicious meat pie floater, its mushy peas of just the right consistency, its tomato sauce piquant in its cheekiness, its pie filling tending even towards named parts of the animal. There are platonic burgers made of beef instead of cow lips and hooves. There are fish 'n' chips where the batter is more than just a white goo lurking at the bottom of a batter casing and you can't use the chips to shave with. There are hot dog fillings that have more in common with meat than mere pinkness, whose lucky consumers don't apply mustard because that would spoil the taste. It's just that people can be trained to prefer the other sort, and seek it out. It's as if Machiavelli had written a cookery book.
Even so, there is no excuse for putting pineapple on pizza.
Two beautifully realized and revealing moments in Sunshine Cleaning that bring important characters fully to life and neither one involved the stars of the film.
One doesn't even involve an actor.
Sunshine Cleaning stars Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as Rose and Norah Lorkowski, two sisters who start a business cleaning up the bloody messes left at crime scenes and in the aftermaths of accidents, and one of those moments is a flashback to when the sisters were little girls and they discovered their mother's body after she'd committed suicide. The girls come into the house from playing outside in the sprinkler. Rose, the eldest, is in the lead and she realizes something is terribly wrong before she sees what's the matter. She continues on ahead (with the camera behind them) but as she goes her right arm swings around to reach back towards her sister and her hand opens up to hold Norah back. This reflexive protective gesture of the big sister's towards the little one instantly becomes the defining gesture of their lives and we understand from it why in the movie's present, with Rose in her thirties and Norah getting there, neither young woman has much of a life of her own.
Rose has devoted herself to taking care of Norah at her own expense, but she's done it by pushing Norah back---by "protecting" her from the worst life throws at people, she's protected Norah from life itself. Norah can't navigate in the world because Rose has never let her learn how to.
Meanwhile, Rose, who at one point complains that she's not good at anything, is shown to have been really good at the kind of self-sacrifice that is really self-punishment. She's been sabotaging her own life for years because she feels she failed at the most important job she was given. That gesture of protection came both too late and with not enough strength. She believes that she should have protected Norah by having saved their mother or by having made everything all right afterwards.
By the way, the connection between the work they're doing and Rose's guilt and Norah's inability to face up to life is clear to the point of being trite, but what's good about the way Sunshine Cleaning deals with it is that it doesn't deal with it. It leaves it entirely unremarked upon. Rose delivers a little speech to a gathering of old high school friends about what she does and what she likes about the work that brings her close to stating the obvious---"We come into people's lives when they have experienced something profound and sad and...we help."---but the sweetness of Adams' delivery coupled with the way she plays it makes this the moment when Rose realizes that she reallydoeslikethe work and she's proud of herself as a businesswoman; the psychological ramifications don't even seem to cross her mind, and the obvious remains unstated.
The other moment, the one that doesn't involve an actor but still brings a character to life, occurs in the house the sisters have come to to clean up after another suicide. The bodies are always gone before they arrive, and usually there are no survivors there to deal with, only cops or landlords. This time they meet the elderly widow of the old man who killed himself. She takes Rose into the house to show her where her husband did it and all along the walls and on the doors and on the appliances we see Post-it Notes, many stuck one on top of another, and although we haven't been told anything about the dead man, not even that he shot himself, we know him and we know why.
The camera closes in on just one of the notes, mainly to show us that the man wrote the notes himself to himself. At first I thought this was his last note, but thinking it over I've decided it might very well have been his first. It's a note reminding him to tell his wife he loves her.
The note isn't about saying good-bye. It's not about death. It's about living and what's important. It's a note to Rose and to the audience.
Sunshine Cleaning is a note to the audience reminding us that people whose presence in our lives are determined and defined by their functionality---maids, store clerks, waitresses, lab technicians, among others---people who we take for granted and often just ignore are real human beings with feelings and thoughts and dreams and sorrows and, by the way, but not trivially, special talents and skills that make them good at what they do, that make them useful not just functional. It's the kind of low-key, understated character comedy-drama that has not much more reason than to make us like and understand its characters as a way of making us like and understand other real people and ourselves, and as that kind of a movie Sunshine Cleaning does a pretty good job. Screenwriter Megan Holly and director Christine Jeffs have steered away from the darker aspects of their own story and are perhaps a little too determined to make sure that we like Rose and Norah and their father Joe, played crustily but affably by Alan Arkin, and the result may be a little too much sweetness and lightness for some. I didn't mind it, except in the few moments when characters let loose angers that they haven't been hiding as much as they've had them excised, and then things start to feel forced and actors who've been underplaying their roles beautifully suddenly seem to be overacting desperately, which is an extra flaw in a movie that has as its main other reason for demanding our attention the pleasure of watching its stars act like actors and not like movie stars.
Sunshine Cleaning is the first movie since Junebug I've seen Amy Adams play a real human being in. I haven't seen Julie & Julia yet. In Doubt and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day she played "characters," realistic fictions that closely resemble real human beings but which couldn't exist outside of the stories they were created to help tell. In Enchanted she played a cartoon, literally, a Disney princess come to life, and she was brilliant, but, you know, a cartoon, and in Night at the Museum 2: Battle for the Smithsonian she attempted to repeat the trick by bringing what was essentially a cartoon version of Amelia Earhart to life, but she had a weak script and a lesser director to work with, plus I didn't think anybody could have found for her a less worthy love interest than Patrick Dempsey until I saw Ben Stiller practically yawning through all their scenes together. And in Charlie Wilson's War she's completely wasted in a part that doesn't require her to do anything but stand there and listen attentively while Tom Hanks has a good time hamming it up.
Adams makes Rose not just someone you could meet in real life but someone you feel you have met.
Didn't surprise me to see Adams pull this off. It shouldn't be surprising when actors we've thought were really good in one thing show by being really good in something very different that the reason they were good in the first thing is that they are good actors. (That one was as hard to type as it probably was to read.) Adams is helped, though, by her looks. She is very pretty, but in an ordinary way. If it wasn't for her red hair, it would be possible to overlook her in a crowd. Not easy, but possible, and you might not look twice, if you were in a hurry.
Emily Blunt, however, is not overlookable or look pastable. Her features are more striking and she's four inches taller and built along more heroic lines. So what's most surprising about her appearance in Sunshine Cleaning is that she appears at all. It was inspired to cast her as someone who is convinced she's not worth a second glance, possibly not even a first, and who goes out of her way to make sure that's the way it goes. Rose's over-protectiveness has undermined Norah's self-confidence to the point that she's accepted that she's not fit for grown-up life. She's handicapped by her own and Rose's low expectations, and she's learned to co-operate with Rose in the job of keeping Norah safe by keeping her pushed back. She is always in retreat, and one sign of this is her choice of clothes and hair style and use of make up, all of which are applied to present a "character" to the world that people will see and react to in place of the real Norah. Instead of a beautiful and intelligent young woman, she sends out in her stead a sullen and incompetent overgrown adolescent.
And there's something else at work within her. Norah has some little, secret ways of keeping her mother alive in herself, but all she really knows about her is that she was beautiful and that somehow her beauty contributed to the sadness that destroyed her, possibly by giving her expectations of a grander, more glamorous, more exciting life. Norah's downplaying of her beauty, her denying it, is a way of preventing herself from developing great expectations. Norah would rather expect nothing, and is generally relieved when that's what she gets.
Blunt doesn't convey Norah's low self-esteem, hopelessness, and contrived immaturity just by dressing down and letting her unkempt hair fall across her face. She carries herself like the most awkward of teenagers, all arms and legs going ever which way. She gallumphs when she walks, slouches deeply into cushions when she sits, and is as droopy and loose-limbed as a scarecrow when she stands still. There's really no hiding the fact that Blunt is beautiful but she makes Norah someone there's no way you could convince is beautiful, not as beautiful as her sister, at any rate, so what's the point of even trying?
There's one other movie star in Sunshine Cleaning playing a real person in a departure from what has become his routine role as schlumpy stoner sidekick, but I'm not going to tell you who, in case you want to be surprised like the blonde who didn't recognize him, even though he's one of her favorites, and she was flabbergasted when she read his name in the end credits.
"The danger as a legislator is that you get involved with just passing the bill. You can lose the context of what passing the bill means, and then you're just shuffling papers, and you lose that emotional contact. Maybe some people could do it. I think I'd run dry pretty quick."---Senator Edward M. Kennedy in an interview with Charles Pierce of the Boston Globe, January 2003.
According to my old college pal Gary, it's my fault Ted Kennedy wasn't elected President in 1980. Gary insists it was an op-ed piece I wrote for a nationally distributed newspaper that sunk Kennedy in the Democratic primaries and got Jimmy Carter re-nominated.
In my defense I never expected the piece to get published. I was just venting. My point was that I saw no point at the time in Kennedy's challenging Carter. I understood people were disappointed with Jimmy, but it looked to me that part of what was fueling their disappointment was nostalgia and I thought their wish to have Teddy run was really an expression of their sublimated wish that Jack and Bobby were still alive. I'm pretty sure the only reason the paper printed it was that it was an anti-Kennedy piece written by a member of what the editors thought was Kennedy's base, a college student from Boston.
Actually, most of the college students I knew were for Jerry Brown or John Anderson, if they were for anybody. I did some campaigning for Brown. One day I was going around downtown Boston putting up notices for a rally for Brown and I noticed I was being followed by a short, squat South Boston Irish type with a thick wave of dark hair arcing from his forehead very much like Ted Kennedy's own at the time. He was busy tearing down the flyers as I put them up.
"Pardon me, sir. May I ask why you are committing this wanton act of vandalism?" I asked, although not in those exact words.
"I could ask you the same thing, young man," he replied, although again I'm paraphrasing. I've forgotten the details of our short conversation. Possibly the words asshole and fuck you were bandied about, but as I said it's a little hazy after all these years.
What came out of our exchange, though, was that he worked for "the Kennedys"---that's how he put it; he saw himself as a retainer for the entire clan and the clan was an institution like the Church, Harvard, or the Red Sox---and every light pole and blank wall space and community bulletin board, anywhere you could tack a sign or a poster belonged to the Kennedys and what I was doing was a form of trespassing, theft, and public insult.
That's when I learned that Edwin O'Connor hadn't been making it up .
It's also when I realized that for all the talk of the Kennedys being American royalty, what they were were throwbacks, products and champions of the old order of urban Democratic politics, Ted especially. Right now across the western side of the bandwidth, we're mourning the death of one of the nation's last great Progressives. But Back in Boston, in Southie and Dorchester, Charlestown, Eastie, Roxbury, Mission Hill, Brighton, Allston, and Jamaica Plain, Revere, Everett, Chelsea, Lawrence, Lowell, and, oh yeah, Cambridge, they're grieving for the loss of their very own.
At any rate, my op-ed piece ran in January just before the Iowa caucuses and Carter clobbered Kennedy there, which was pretty much all she wrote for Ted that year and forever after.
Gary still blames me. Some days I feel guilty about this. Some days I'm actually proud of it. If Kennedy had beaten Carter and then defeated Reagan in the fall, no sure thing, and if he'd served two terms, he'd have just died in the 20th year of his former-Presidency, and while I'm sure he'd have been a credit to former Presidents, even the greatest of former Presidents can't accomplish what a great Senator can accomplish in 20 years. If he'd been President he wouldn't have done half the great things he did.
Of course, had he been President we probably wouldn't have needed him to do some of those great things since they involved thwarting and undoing the Reagan-Gingrich Revolution.
One of those things we'll never know and not worth arguing about---until the next time I see Gary.
What we know is that Ted Kennedy spent the last three decades making himself one of the best legislators in American history by saving the country from the worst of what Reagan and Gingrich and W. Bush wanted to do to it and by keeping liberalism alive in spirit and in law and, most important, in effect in the lives of millions of people who needed help.
I met the man only once, and it was thanks to Gary. Gary was in law school at Harvard at the time and one night Kennedy showed up to speak to a group of law students. Gary got me in and we wound up sitting on the floor right at Ted Kennedy's feet.
It was late in the evening. The Senator had just flown in from some fact-finding mission in the far west. He was clearly exhausted. Considering when this was, he might also have been drunk. His eyes were pink and bleary, his face was bright red. Maybe it was a sunburn. He'd spent all day on an Indian reservation, I think. Whatever. If he wasn't in the bag or half in it, he was just as desperately in need of a bed or twelve pots of coffee. It wore you out, just to look at him. And he was still on top of things.
He fielded question after question, patiently and attentively. He answered thoughtfully and thoroughly. Some of these questions were on what seemed to me very obscure issues and arcane points of policy and those were the questions that he jumped on and responded to most completely. The longer he was there, the more revved up he got, and by the time his aides made him call it a night, I wouldn't say he'd revived, but he'd definitely recharged enough that he could have gone on for another hour or two.
I got to shake his hand at the end of the night. It was a huge hand. A hand that large could pick up and carry quite a load all on its own, and in a way, it did. It carried all of us.
Be sure to read all of Charles Pierce's profile of Kennedy in the Globe---in which one of the things we learn about Kennedy is that he didn't like profiles---Pierce doesn't shy away from the bad stuff. Mary Jo Kopechne is in there. But the bad stuff's too much a part of the good stuff to be left out of the story. The piece was done at the height of the Bush Administration's success and arrogance. I don't know if Pierce was thinking it, but at the time he might have been writing Ted Kennedy's Last Hurrah. The thing is, Kennedy himself wasn't thinking it or wasn't letting himself think it. He was thinking he had work to do.
If his name were Edward Moore, Robert Bork might be on the Supreme Court today. Robert Dole might have been elected president of the United States. There might still be a draft. There would not have been the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which overturned seven Supreme Court decisions that Kennedy saw as rolling back the gains of the civil rights movement; the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, the most wide-ranging civil rights bill since the original ones in the 1960s; the Kennedy-Kassebaum Bill of 1996, which allows "portability" in health care coverage; or any one of the 35 other initiatives - large and small, on everything from Medicare to the minimum wage to immigration reform - that Kennedy, in opposition and in the minority, managed to cajole and finesse through the Senate between 1996 and 1998, masterfully defusing the Gingrich Revolution and maneuvering Dole into such complete political incoherence that Bill Clinton won reelection in a walk. None of this would have happened, if his name were Edward Moore.
At Buck Naked Politics, they've posted an extensive round-up of obits, tributes, eulogies, and reminiscences.
Pretty much it's gotten to the point that if the producers of the bobblehead shows stopped inviting known liars on their shows and the editors of op-ed pages stopped giving column inches to known liars and reporters of all stripes stopped using known liars as sources, then Republicans and "conservatives" would disappear from the news.
And you and I might think that's as it should be.
But without Republicans to flatter and fawn over and lie down and roll over for, how would the members of the Village Media prove they aren't liberal?
Which I'm convinced they think is their most important job. Proving they aren't liberal.
I'm not sure why it's so important to them to prove they aren't liberals, especially since the people they seem most determined to prove it to are the liars they flatter and fawn over and lie down and roll over for. Why would people who work in a profession supposedly devoted to identifying and reporting the truth, or at least, the facts, want to have approval of liars who see it as they're job to, well, lie?
Access? The liars are out of power. Access now only gets you access to their lies not to the corridors of power. I'd say this is a habit they got into during the Bush Administration and now they can't shake it plus they're just too lazy to update the contact lists on their smart phones, if I didn't know that proving they aren't liberal is a line to their job description they added during the Reagan Administration but perfected during the Clinton Administration. So they've kept it up for a generation now through periods when the corridors of power they want access to were patrolled by Democrats.
Some of the Villagers are just plain corrupt. They don't want to offend Republicans because that's where the money is. They're afraid of losing their lucrative speaking gigs and their invitations to the best parties. They're afraid of costing a significant other or a child or a friend a high-paying job. They're afraid of doors closing when it comes time for them to quit journalism and seek a job that pays real money.
But I can't help thinking that for a lot of them the reason they're desperate to prove they aren't liberal is that they hate liberals and they hate liberals because they hate themselves and against all evidence they're convinced they are liberals.
What they are are establishmentarian types comfortable with the status quo who don't hate gay people and want their wives and daughters and selves to have access to abortion and accept it more or less as a given that poor people's children probably shouldn't be left to starve in the streets, provided it doesn't cost too much money to feed them and move them inside at least during the winter. And they usually vote for Democrats. All of that is enough to make them practically Communists in the eyes of the Republican elites they're trying to prove they aren't liberal to. But nevermind.
They think they're liberals and they don't like liberals because they've adopted their own version of the cockeyed syllogism Woody Allen posited in Love and Death. Which starting with the premise that all the ancient Greeks were homosexuals went:
A. Socrates was a man.
B. All men are mortal.
C. All men are Socrates.
From which he concluded that "all men are homosexual."
The Villagers' syllogism goes:
A. We're a pack of elitist sissies.
B. We're liberals.
C. All liberals are elitist sissies. Eww.
If you start with this then it's not that they're trying to prove to the world they're not liberals, it's that they're trying to prove to themselves they're not sissies, but of course they do that in the way sissies tend to do it, by becoming bullies and beating up on other supposed sissies or if they can't work up the guts for that by hero-worshipping other bullies who'll do the beating up on other sissies for them.
So, while the rest of watch in horror and dismay as the liars come on and go cheerfully spreading their lies and think how are they allowed to get away with lying like that, the Village Insiders aren't thinking about truth vs. lies or facts vs. malicious fictions. They're thinking "Haw haw!" as their bully-heroes stuff liberals into lockers, take their milk money, and give them wedgies.
They're thinking "haw haw" as they cheerlead for political bullies who start wars that kill lots of brown people and push policies that run poor people out of their homes and jobs and deny them decent medical care and otherwise push the voiceless and the powerless around.
Ok, maybe I'm just being mean. Maybe they aren't a pack of self-loathing elitist sissies. Maybe they're just a pack of lazy goofs who've taken on jobs they enjoy only for the celebrity conferred and not for the actual work required.
If they were to decide as a group not to give known liars any more print space or airtime, then David Frum would collapse from exhaustion trying to keep up as the only conservative source for journalists in DC.
There'd be nobody else to invite on the bobblehead shows but Democrats and Liberals, who might be liars or who might be so wrong about things that they're as good as lying, but to prove that would require actual homework and engagement with policy and the issues.
It would require treating politics as a serious matter and the governing of the nation as a life and death business with consequences that change the lives of real human beings. It would mean giving up their complacent, comforting, corrupting habit of treating everything that happens in Washington as a game.
But that might cause them to seem to take sides. It might open them up to the accusation that they are liberals!
So much easier to just divide every issue into a contest between two teams and then let the teams sputter and shout at each other while you sit back and keep score.
Oh and think "haw haw" every time a known liar trash talks a liberal and makes him cry foul.
Satirically related: Michael Berube interviewed the American Mainstream Media about what they see as their job in these crazy times.
CA: Pardon me? People are threatening violence because a Democratic administration might be considering public health insurance? That’s not exciting, that’s lunacy. Why doesn’t anybody explain the “public option” to these nutcases?
AMM: With all due respect, Michael, that’s not really our job.
AMM: No, really. We’re not in the business of pushing some President’s agenda, unless it’s a war. We’re in the business of reporting what people say. And if some people say that Obama’s plan will feed your grandma to the wood chipper, and some people happen to disagree with that, then it’s our responsibility to report both sides fairly. That’s all part of democratic debate, and we’re proud to play our part!
CA: So, so you’re actually saying it’s your job to report complete falsehoods without challenging them?
AMM: That’s basic journalistic ethics, yes. Besides, even if it was our job to choose sides, which it isn’t, we’re just not well equipped to handle this kind of thing. Health care involves very serious policy issues and complicated stuff about money, and everyone knows math is hard and policy is boring. So we try to concentrate on what we do best.
Mills...added that his sculpture was meant to be funny and political. “It's art, ya know?”
Mills won for his "Gone Postal" car:
a mini postal-delivery truck with strobe lights, a bazooka that shot a “BANG!” flag, and assault rifles that blasted confetti.
Mills said he was inspired by memories of visits to the post office where his father used to work.
"It just seemed like it was an angry place to work..."
Not all the "kinetic sculptures" that rolled in yesterday's event were...um...political:
Kids flexed their creativity, too. Rachel Reimer, 12, and Casey Hall, 10, both of Saugerties, decided to build a poker-themed car with a bathroom twist. They attached two toilet bowls to a wheel barrow, sat on them and played poker while their fathers drove them down the hill. Rachel was dressed up as a queen, and Casey as a jester. “The Royal Flush,” they called it.
Oh, and the toilets were floating on fake clouds. “We're so royal, we just had to be on clouds,” Reimer said.
When last we left the Draper home in Ossining, the Linkmeister had just stopped by to catch a ride with Don to the train station, surprising Betty with the news that Don isn't on a business trip to Pittsburgh as she thought:
After Link leaves, Betty's "friend" Simone arrives. Simone, according to neighborhood gossip passed along to me by the reader who invented her is "an independently wealthy protofeminist who meets Betty at the grocery store. She vacillates between feeling motherly concern for Betty and wanting to smack her. She copes with her ambivalence by giving Betty a copy of 'The Feminine Mystique' and taking her to a Loretta Lynn concert."
Meanwhile, at Sterling Cooper, Don's continued absences along with Roger's distraction by his new young bride, Burt Cooper's slide into a giddy second childhood, Duck's drinking, and the new British partners' inability to transcend stereotype, is causing more headaches for Creative Director Tom Watson, who is trying to hold the place together all on his own. In his exhaustion, Tom hallucinates Don's coming back to work to save the day.
More to come. Add your own pscyhodramatics to the plot by Madmenizing yourself. Send me the results for next week's installment. And don't forget to tune in to tonight's episode of Mad Men, at 10 PM Eastern, 9 Central.
Joe Lieberman wants to kill health care reform by cutting it up into little pieces and letting it bleed to death in committees over the course of the next couple of years while the public and the Media are distracted by other things. Dick Lugar wants to kill it by putting it on a back shelf in a closet deep in the basement where it will pine away, neglected and forgotten.
Lugar probably knows Democrats aren't going to take his approach. He's just looking to be able to boast about how he was all for "moderation," "study," "thought," "prudence," and "thrift," and not for denying his constituents access to decent and affordable health insurance while also being able to boast to his Republican colleagues and corporate donors that he was with them all along. When push comes to shove, though, he'll cheerfully vote against anything and everything the Democrats try to pass, including all the little pieces Joe Lieberman claims to think stand a chance of bipartisan support.
Lieberman, though, is looking for a way not to have repeat his usual weasel's trick of having of it both ways. He's against reconciliation because if the Democrats take that route Lieberman will have to vote for or against. If the Senate leadership decides to try to pass any bills the usual way and Republicans filibuster, Lieberman could vote FOR the bill but AGAINST cloture. He's done this many times before. It's his way of getting credit for being for something he's really against and for being Mr Bipartisanship while he's at it.
I'm sure he'll pull this trick again, if he has no other choice. But he's probably been warned by Chuck Schumer that he might not be forgiven for it this time. His new plan of passing lots of little pieces of toothless legislation will let him vote with the leadership down the line while making sure that no meaningful reform happens.
Update: There was more than self-serving political expediency in Lieberman's wish that health care reform take place in baby steps that won't get taken. As Dave Noon points out, Lieberman also managed to put himself on the wrong side of history by apparently accepting that it was ok that that it took over a hundred years for the Civil Rights movement to accomplish its major goals. Read Dave's post at The Edge of the West, Justice too long delayed is justice denied.
But I’d like to return to one point: even after retracting his statement about people who correctly surmised that terror warnings were political being motivated by “gut hatred” of Bush, he left in the bit about being “reflexively anti-Bush”. I continue to find it really sad that people still say things like this.
Krugman, Glenn Greenwald, and Marcy Wheeler are dealing with this. The only thing I have to add is that the Liberal Blogosphere, the supposed amplifier for all the irrational hatred of George W. Bush, didn't really get its act together until 2002, when the Bush Administration was in the middle of the process of obviously lying us into a war with Iraq. It wasn't because people hated Bush that they didn't trust him on the War. It was because of the War and his lies that they began to hate him. As Krugman says, by the time the terror alert controversy boiled over there was ample reason to think of this crew as a pack of liars who did everything for their own personal political gain, including taking the country into war. It wasn't irrational to distrust them. It was plain nuts not to.
But the real "gut-haters," the people who took an irrational dislike to a politician and reacted to everything he said and did as if he was a worse liar than Richard Nixon were the members of the Washington Press Corps who decided back in 1999 that Al Gore was not to be allowed to become President.
And one tactic in their war on Gore was to treat George W. Bush as something the man clearly wasn't---deserving of the Presidency. He was their man, and they stuck with him and championed him long after he'd proven to be an utter disaster, and they continued to dismiss all his critics as deranged by hatred, irrationally partisan, and deeply "unserious."
And pretty much they're still at it, which is why people like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and John Bolton keep popping up on the TV and in op-ed pages. The Village Insiders are deeply invested in their own vanity and they will defend their egos and self-regard to the death.
Marc Ambinder has been clumsy about it, but he's also been pretty much all alone in admitting that maybe the Press Corps could have done a better job.