Ezra Klein appears to be getting shelled from all sides for his comments on Joe Lieberman, including from a colleague at the Washington Post, Charles Lane:
Let me repeat: Klein essentially accuses Lieberman of mass murder because he disagrees with him on a policy issue about which there is considerable debate among people of good will across the political spectrum.
This is disgusting, and pretty illogical, too. Klein brandishes a study by the Urban Institute showing that the lack of health insurance contributed to the deaths of 137,000 people between 2000 and 2006. But last time I checked, Joe Lieberman does not oppose insuring everyone. Indeed, he is on record favoring “legislation that expands access to the millions who do not have coverage, improves quality and lowers costs while not impeding our economic recovery or increasing the debt.” He simply opposes the public option, as well as Harry Reid’s last-minute improvisation on Medicare. Klein’s outburst only makes sense if you assume that there is one conceivable way to expand health insurance coverage, and that Harry Reid has discovered it.
And, by the way, Lieberman is hardly alone in his skepticism, even among Democrats. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) pronounced Reid’s proposal a “non-starter.” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has voiced doubts. Ten Democratic senators — including such right-wingers as Al Franken of Minnesota and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin — signed a letter complaining that Reid’s idea would shortchange their states. Reports the Portland Oregonian: “While they did not directly say it, the senators implied that they might not vote for the bill unless the Medicare problems are addressed. That threat has some power, as Reid needs all 60 Democratic votes to pass the bill.”
Are these Senators guilty of risking mass death as well?
Well, they won’t be accused of that. But I guess that’s because the netroots are too busy training their fire solely and exclusively on Lieberman; Matt Yglesias went so far as to call Lieberman not just a dumb politician, but a dumb Jewish politician. I don’t know whom Yglesias thinks he is kidding with his poseur intellectualism; he has no right to hold himself out as a superior thinker when he botches a discussion of telecommunications policy as badly as he did, believes that Hugo Chavez was forced to praise Idi Amin because the Obama Administration is “defanging” the Venezuelan dictator (yeah, I don’t know what the one has to do with the other either, and for that matter, neither does Yglesias), screws up a discussion of political counterfactuals to astonishing degrees, fails completely to grok the Senate, can’t use Google to research “the black conservative tradition” before writing a post and exposing his ignorance on the matter, and shows that he doesn’t understand that governors and Senate Republican leaders play different roles in the political process, thereby making a comparison between Mitch Daniels and Mitch McConnell a silly one (for criticism of Yglesias’s “thoughts” on this, and related issues, see Glenn Reynolds, and Ed Morrissey, who properly rake Yglesias over the coals, and Yuval Levin, who eviscerates Steve Pearlstein–on whose arguments, Yglesias relies).
Oh, and of course, there is this. Be sure to read the comments about the “thinking” of the guy who boasts IQ points on Joe Lieberman, and who thinks that it is somehow pertinent to bring Lieberman’s Jewishness into a discussion of his smarts or his knowledge of health care policy. And bear in mind, of course, that if a right-of-center blogger brought Lieberman’s religious heritage into the debate, the accusations would fly fast and furious. (Prepare the countdown for Yglesias to claim that it’s okay for him to add the religious element to the debate because he himself is Jewish.)
Getting back to the issue of health care–now that we have disposed of Matt Yglesias’s strange fascination with Joe Lieberman’s Jewishness–Will Wilkinson snarks on a point that Klein and Yglesias seem to have missed:
. . . Health-care reform does not live or die with the particular legislative monstrosity currently under consideration in the Senate. Are there not alternative reforms that would save even more lives? I’m sure Ezra agrees there are. So if the Senate Democrats’ suboptimal proposal is made law, shall we therefore lay the foregone QALYs at the feet of its advocates? Surely decency demands it! I do hope the Senate bill fails, if only to save Ezra from the shame of dirty hands.
The sad thing is that the intended targets of Wilkinson’s joke probably just won’t get it.