Compare and contrast two stories today...
From The Hill, "Sens: Snowe may be risking a high perch on healthcare reform vote":
Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) is risking a shot at becoming the top Republican on an influential Senate committee by backing Democratic healthcare legislation, according to senators on the panel.
..."A vote for healthcare would be something that would weigh on our minds when it came time to vote," said a Republican on Commerce, who said Snowe would otherwise be assured of the ranking member post if not for the healthcare debate.
From Politico, "Dem leaders brush off the left":
Now, more than 79,000 people have signed a Progressive Change Campaign Committee petition urging Reid to strip the chairmanship of any Democratic senator who votes to filibuster health care reform.
The response from Reid’s No. 2, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): "We’ve never done that. We’re not going to do that."
Durbin said the petitioners needed to "count to 60 and understand we need to be together, and there are times when we need to work out our differences."
"This is a silly and unnecessary distraction that is not going to happen — period," added a Senate Democratic leadership aide. "Given how important this is to the rest of his agenda, it is up to President Obama to help the leadership to hold the caucus together."
..."It’s not fair to ask people to facilitate the enactment of policies with which we ultimately disagree," said moderate Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "So the closer we get to the end of the process, the more, for me, the process and policy will be one and the same."
Several Democratic moderates told POLITICO that they most likely will be with their party on most procedural votes but could hold out on the last one — to end debate and cut off a filibuster — if they wanted to demand changes to the final product.
"Not vote for cloture? I wouldn’t rule that possibility out — not at all," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats.
...Moreover, Reid is not an arm-twisting type — a point underscored by his decision to allow Lieberman to retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee over the objections of liberals furious with his decision to campaign for John McCain in 2008.
"The Democratic leadership of the Senate is being extremely respectful of the different views within our caucus and trying to find a way forward that accomplishes our goals," said centrist Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
She added that she would not automatically vote against a filibuster on the bill and that "the leadership has not, to date, asked me to."
But critics say that approach could come at a cost, saying that senators unfazed about retaliation from their leadership will have an even freer hand to buck their party — and that Reid should lay down the law.
"If he calls himself majority leader, he needs to lead that majority, not follow," said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
"If he calls himself ‘Give ’Em Hell’ Harry, he needs to actually give ’em hell."
I'd expect weakness from Reid and lameness from Lieberman/Bayh/Landrieu. Dick Durbin being completely unstrategic -- I wouldn't have expected that as much. Shame on him.
Tomorrow, the PCCC delivers our petitions to Harry Reid telling him to get a backbone. Sign it here. (And please rec so others see this.)