Last night there was a big party for the press at the White House, and this morning Mika Brzezinski and Savannah Guthrie report back on what was being said by White House officials about Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman:
Mika Brzezinski I won’t name names, but I heard it from several people in the Administration: Howard Dean, very not pleased, with Dr. Dean speaking out about health care reform and this plan.
Savannah Guthrie: Yeah, very irritated. Yes, isn’t it fascinating they don’t seem to be too angry at Lieberman, they’re reserving their fervor for Howard Dean, but actually, one senior official who I talked to this morning paid the highest insult which was to call him irrelevant to the entire health care debate. You know he kind of had his moment in the sun in the last week when this Medicare expansion looked like it was going to be the thing that broke the logjam between the progressives in the party and the moderates, but, of course, because of Lieberman, the Medicare expansion is gone, and now Dean is having what one official called “a tantrum.”
And they think it’s just not helpful, but they say he’s irrelevant because, bottom line is, even though he was meeting yesterday with all the Democrats, a lot of liberals did blow off steam, there’s a lot of frustration, they’re annoyed that the public option is gone, that then they compromised to do the Medicare extension, now it’s gone. At the end of the day, the moderates are holding sway over this bill, but at the end of the day the President’s been able to hold them in line and they think progressives will be with them.
Howard Dean, who is advocating for the House bill over the Senate bill, is apparently under the misconception that there are two branches of Congress and not one.
I wrote a piece for Politico today on how Lieberman is doing exactly what the White House wants: jamming through the Senate Finance Committee bill they negotiated last summer, which had neither a public plan nor an expansion of Medicare benefits (but a sweetheart PhRMA deal). It completely dispenses with even the fig leaf of a never-to-be-pulled “trigger.” I’m not quite sure why anyone thinks the White House would be upset with what Lieberman is doing, but apparently, they’re not.
According to Lieberman, Obama thanked him privately yesterday.