las_vegas_sunHarry Reid has been trying to shake off personal responsibility for the inclusion of a public option in the Senate bill for a while.

He tried to lay off responsibility on the White House, as if the Senate wasn’t an independent and coequal branch of government. Then he tried the old “we don’t have 60 votes” song, as if he hadn’t been telling us for years that all we need are 60 votes in the caucus and we’re home free.

Reid’s excuses are running out of gas, and Nevada has noticed.  There’s a good piece in the Las Vegas Sun by Lisa Mascaro in the Sunday paper:

The ball’s in Reid’s court: Passing the public option

A majority of Americans support the public option, including a slim majority of Nevadans, according to polls.

As the Senate begins the health care debate in earnest this week, these divisions will test core Democratic beliefs and Reid’s ability to devise a compromise that can keep his 60-member caucus operating as one.

“Make no mistake, Sen. Reid, and Sen. Reid alone, controls the fate of the public option and whether or not millions of Americans get coverage without the stranglehold of big insurance corporations,” Jane Hamsher, president of the progressive Firedoglake blog, wrote in a statement. The blog’s political arm is urging Reid, if necessary, to use a procedure known as reconciliation, which would require 51 votes, rather than 60, to ensure the public option stays in the bill.

Harry Reid has tremendous procedural powers as the Senate Majority leader. He’s probably the second most powerful man in the country, and he can make anyone’s life miserable — even Joe Lieberman’s — if he wants to.

There is nothing that Lieberman, Landrieu, Nelson and Lincoln fear more than reconciliation right now, because it takes away all their power. Yes, I know, reconciliation won’t be easy, but if the Democrats would rather do this “fast” than “right” they will probably get what they deserve in 2010 (though the rest of us will be the big losers).

Will Harry Reid have the guts to stand up to Lieberman and protect people like this, and this, and this?

If he doesn’t, all the list building he’s been doing, taking out ads and asking people what they have done today for the public option, has been nothing more than a cynical ploy to stoke his reelection campaign with potential donors.  A “big show” so that Harry can shake his head and say “gosh darn it, we tried our best, what can you say” as Wellpoint’s stock skyrockets.

Been there, done that.  Remember the cots in the Senate for that all-night filibuster to end the war?  Because I sure do.

Not kicking that football ever again.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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