As the crucial roll call on health-care reform approaches, Sen. Blanche Lincoln's course has been made clear for her. And we're not referring only to the Arkansas Times' advice, always high-minded but sometimes impolitic.
We've never doubted that Senator Lincoln wants to vote for reform, that — like President Obama — she'd prefer to help people. She's not a bad person. She is a cautious one, however, sometimes too fearful of special interests brandishing big money, deviating from her own principles because of their threats.
But a new poll shows that bearding the insurance industry is not only morally correct, it's politically shrewd as well. The Research 2000 Arkansas Poll says that if Lincoln joins Republicans in opposing a reform bill because it has a strong public option, she will repel far more voters than she'll attract; that members of her own party will turn against her in such numbers as to assure her defeat in next year's election. She would be replaced in the Senate by a Gilbert Baker, or someone else eager to befriend corporate interests and oppose every initiative of a popularly elected president. That would be bad for Lincoln, and bad for the country. We'd rather keep her, if she'll let us.
Lincoln on her worst day has never been the kind of legislator that Joe Lieberman is. The renegade Connecticut senator is bound at all costs to protect the insurance companies of his home state; his wife has pocketed big money working for corporations that oppose health-care reform. He threatens to filibuster.
It was Arkansas's junior senator, Mark Pryor, who helped keep the treacherous Lieberman in the Senate and the Democratic caucus after Lieberman had been defeated in a Democratic primary. That was bad. Aiding Lieberman in his opposition to health-care reform would be far worse, and Pryor already has the poorest voting record of any Democrat in the Arkansas congressional delegation. “Better than Boozman” is a scarcely inspirational slogan.
Mad as …
The hatters and hares of the Tea Party faction were at the state Capitol this week, a spokesman calling for new national leaders “that will not divide us but bring us together,” while his fellows carried signs saying “Christian America. Take back your country,” and seeing no inconsistency. (They mean “White Christian America,” but not even Glenn Beck dares say this openly anymore.) Another speaker seemed to believe that Barack Obama and not George Bush had presided over the economic wreckage of the last eight years. How did such people find the Capitol?