Harry ReidThere are 51 Senators who will vote for a public option, something 77% of the country wants. It would win a majority in a floor vote. We were told that we needed 60 votes in the Caucus so we’d have a filibuster-proof majority — so that the GOP would never block a bill from getting to the floor. The only reason not to put the HELP Committee public option in the Senate bill is because Joe Lieberman and other “ConservaDems” are conducting a silent filibuster — they won’t say it publicly but they’ll say privately that they will vote with the GOP to filibuster the bill.

That means the Democratic caucus will now filibuster itself.

I only have one thing to say: Don’t even fucking think about it. We were told we had to suck up all manner of corporate whoredom for that 60 vote filibuster proof majority — that’s what we supposedly got in exchange for letting Lieberman have his committee chair, right? Except now I guess he gets all the power and the perks just because you like him, with none of the responsibility to stick with the caucus on procedural votes.

Remember this golden oldie from January 2006?

Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today declared his intention to vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. Lieberman said he has too many doubts about Alito’s commitment to individual liberties to confirm the nominee for a lifetime appointment.

How about this one:

Three other Democrats from states Bush won in 2004, Senators Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Tom Harkin of Iowa, said they will oppose Alito. They cited concerns about his support for expanded presidential power and what they regard as his hostility to lawsuits alleging discrimination.

Lieberman, Bingaman, Harkin and Lincoln all gave George Bush the cloture vote he wanted on Alito. They let him have an up-or-down vote on the floor. And then they took their “principled” vote against him.

I guess the courtesy they’ll offer George Bush’s cretin judges they won’t offer to something 77% of the country wants. So I’ll offer a slight edit of Glenn Greenwald from yesterday:

2004-2006: “You have to wait until we win a Congressional majority in the 2006 midterms.”

2006-2008: “You have to wait until we win the White House in 2008.”

January-May, 2009: “You have to wait until we have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.”

Currently: “You have to wait until until every member of the Democratic caucus agrees on something.”

Either you’re going to enforce caucus discipline or you don’t have a party. You have instead a collection of self-interested narcissists, each one with the ability to derail any legislation they don’t like. Every Senator who derives their political power from membership in the caucus is thereby granted the power to torpedo any piece of legislation from coming to a vote, with no consequences. It’s an outrage.

Every time some clusterfuck like this happens, just enough Senators duck their heads and distribute the blame so that the vulnerable ones don’t have to pay the price. There’s a back room deal to apportion responsibility. They trade off being the bad guy — and they think people are easily fooled as with the Alito cloture vote, when sonorous speeches were given about the careful deliberation that led to a “no” vote on the floor. Anyone paying even remedial attention knew that the cloture vote was the only one that mattered.

So if Reid won’t enforce caucus discipline, if as Majority Leader he now says it’s acceptable to use the “60 vote” threshold to water down the bill, he has to wear it. No matter how he votes personally. No matter how much the White House makes a fetish of bipartisanship and courts Olympia Snowe. No matter what cover anyone else tries to give him.

This time he can’t play “pass the hot potato” and try to assign responsibility to someone who is not vulnerable. Been there, done that.

if Joe Lieberman’s silent filibuster means that the HELP Committee public option is not in the final bill, Reid owns it.

If Blanche Lincon’s unspoken threats mean the opt-out is in the final bill, Reid owns it.

If Ben Nelson’s allegiance to Nebraska insurance brokers means the Finance Committee’s co-ops are in the final bill, Reid owns it.

If the White House says the final bill needs to be the Finance Committee bill so Olympia Snowe is happy, Reid owns it.

If the public option, which the majority of the country and the vast majority of Democrats want doesn’t make it to the floor, Reid owns it.

A new poll shows Reid has a 38% favorable rating in Nevada and a 50% unfavorable. He trails Danny Tarkanian by five points.

Either Harry Reid enforces caucus discipline on this one or it becomes the model for every single piece of legislation that comes before the Senate from hereon in. It guarantees that every piece of Democratic legislation is written by the caucus’s most conservative members. We give the power to the corporations to pick off the whores and write our laws. All they need from hereon in is one.

The Republicans terrorized the Democrats in the Senate in 2004 by taking out the Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle. It’s a good model. If that’s what it takes to wake the Democrats up, with Reid’s numbers — and the ensuing outpouring of rage at the destruction of the public option — it shouldn’t be that hard to do.

I don’t care if we have to recruit a Democratic primary challenger. Maybe someone from the Culinary Workers? I don’t care it we have to blitz the Nevada airwaves with ads about Reid’s coziness with DC lobbyists, or maybe how his son — who is running for Governor — just sits back while his father adds $2000 a year to Nevada health insurance premiums at their behest. And I sure don’t fucking care if Danny Tarkanian becomes the next Senator from Nevada, because at that point 60 votes don’t mean anything anyway.

If the Senate combined bill does not include the HELP committee public option, without triggers, opt-outs, co-ops or anything else that makes an already weak proposal weaker, I pledge to do everything in my power to defeat Harry Reid — and his son — in 2010.

If the Senate combined bill allows a filibuster from members of the Democratic caucus and Reid doesn’t strip them of their committee chairmanships, I pledge to do everything in my power to defeat Harry Reid — and his son — in 2010.

If the final bill that emerges from conference does not include a public option because of the threat of a filibuster, silent or otherwise, I pledge to do everything in my power to defeat Harry Reid — and his son — in 2010.

Because health care is a human right, not something to be subject to Rahm Emanuel’s back room deals, Joe Lieberman’s vanity or the Reid family’s political ambitions.

Sign the petition: Tell Harry Reid to stop the silent filibuster.