The Discipline Problem is Getting Even More Serious

And Boehner knows it. He has reason to be excited about the fracturing of the Democratic Party, although if we’re very lucky, his celebrating is premature. It’s not too late to reverse this trend.

Reversing it, of course, requires conceding something on both the right- and left-most flanks of the party.

On the left: Sanders, Dean, Moulitsas and others should accept an improvement over the status quo as what it is and not vocally oppose the status quo legislation (me can’t form sentences good).

On the right: It’s time for Reid to summon up just a little of his inner Tom DeLay. Yglesias is correct that the White House can’t apply much pressure to Nelson and Lieberman. And Nelson, at least, is responding to real political pressure as a red state Senator.

Reid, though, has some leverage, albeit leverage that he never seems to use. I wouldn’t recommend targeting Nelson, because it’s unlikely someone more liberal could ever make it in Nebraska. But he could, at the very least, provide an instructive example for Nelson and others about what happens when you stray too far off the reservation by finally doing something about the Lieberman problem. I’m not necessarily saying he should move on trying to strip Lieberman of his committee assignments and seniority immediately; only that he put that tactic back on the table and make it clear that he’s not going to ignore bad faith attempts to sabotage major legislation any more.

I’ve got my fingers crossed for the Senate vote. If the Democrats manage to cobble together something close to a unified front and pass the bill, maybe things will start looking better on this front too.

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