Ben Nelson to retire

Hard to get too upset over this, honestly:

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska will announce his retirement, according to Politico. Nelson will hold a press conference as early as today to announce his decision according to “several Democratic insiders close to the leadership,” Politico reports.
Nelson, first elected in 2000, was facing a tough fight for third term. His retirement will likely make Democrats’ chances of holding onto the seat more difficult.
Former senator Bob Kerry has talked to “top Democrats” about another run, according to Politico

I guess you could say Democrats won’t have to spend any money to defend him, but you could also say Republicans won’t have to spend any (more) money to attack him.

There were 8 toss-up Senate races prior to today’s news, 6 of which are held by Democrats: MA, MO, MT, NM, NV, NE, VA, WI

So, take Nebraska off that list

125 replies
  1. 1
    Ken says:

    Good news for John McCain!

    (Or has that one finally become passé?)

  2. 2
    Cain says:

    Nice.. I wonder if we can hold that seat. I do not want to see the Senate fall to the republicans.. we might as well write the whole nation off by that time. Oh well, I suppose we’ll just need to hit bottom before we can get better.

  3. 3
    Nikki says:

    I wish I could feel regret that this makes it that much harder to hold the Senate, but really I’m dancing a merry gig. Goodbye to that loathsome traitorous scumbag.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    Wonder if Conor Oberst will run.

    Or even Warren Buffett’s son, though not sure if he is in one party or the other.

  5. 5
    kay says:

    @Cain:

    I know, but look at his picture: do you really feel anything? I’m not clear why he wanted to be in the Senate in the first place, really. To be a pain in the ass?

  6. 6
    pragmatism says:

    net positive–until some other conservadem becomes nelson on ‘roids and somehow gets put on a bunch of panels/gangs/etc.

  7. 7
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Rollover from prior thread.

    Commenter Kaneblues at TMP: … Ben Nelson’s retirement sets up a once-in-a-generation shot at a bi-partisan, country-uniting ticket: Willard/Ben.

    For people who like movies about rats.

  8. 8
    shortstop says:

    @kay: Large cash prizes. It’s always the large cash prizes.

  9. 9
    Aexia says:

    If anyone thinks we can do better than Nelson out of Nebraska, I’d love to know who it is that can get elected there.

    As it is, he voted for the President’s agenda, even if he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing so. Any Republican replacement will oppose anything Obama proposes full stop. Nelson could be bought off, his replacement will just want to watch the world burn.

  10. 10
    cathyx says:

    It’s not like he ever voted like a democrat. He’s basically a republican and we aren’t losing anything.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    Colin Woodard at Washington Monthly had an interesting article where he posited that the US is more regional than the media usually depicts it (ie red vs blue).

    I can’t quite tell where he places Nebraska, but if it’s considered Far West, a populist Democrat like Jon Tester might have a chance.

  12. 12
    kay says:

    @shortstop:

    Right. I expect his job offer acceptance to come out here shortly.

    He wanted to be in the Senate so he could…slow it to a near-stop, because it was way too speedy and reckless and radical.

  13. 13
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Even assuming Kerrey could get elected after all this time, he’d be pretty Blue Doggy, though not as big an asshole as Nelson. Not quite.

  14. 14
    Cacti says:

    Ben is a fairweather friend, but his replacement will almost certainly be a full-on teabagger. Not good news.

  15. 15
    slag says:

    @Aexia: Way to summarize the essence of our ambivalence. If you were into the whole brevity thing, you coulda just gone with, “Suck on that, hippies!”

  16. 16
    kay says:

    @Aexia:

    If anyone thinks we can do better than Nelson out of Nebraska, I’d love to know who it is that can get elected there.

    I agree with that, in theory, but I just can’t gin up a lot of regret, or any feeling at all, really :)

  17. 17
    danimal says:

    I can’t get too worked up about this, he is Ben F#$#!@ Nelson after all. But he did vote for Dem control of the Senate and for ACA (even after the Nebraska kickback was exposed and deleted). The man was a royal pain, but at least he could be bribed into doing the right thing after some conseravadem grandstanding.

    His retirement makes holding on to the Senate harder, but also means that the Dem caucus doesn’t have to fear as much friendly fire. The tradeoffs have me saying: “Meh.”

  18. 18
    catclub says:

    @cathyx: “It’s not like he ever voted like a democrat. He’s basically a republican and we aren’t losing anything.”

    yeah, he voted just like a republican on the healthcare bill. Oh, wait a minute, no republicans voted for that bill.

    An incredible waffle, but still not a republican.

    see Cacti @ 14

  19. 19
    Rathskeller says:

    I’ll gladly give money to a Democratic candidate there who does not appear to be nuts, even if their odds are slim. But early reports aren’t making me hopeful. Any locals there to help us out with some good news?

    I’ve hated this narcissistic fuck for so long, and now he’s retiring at a time of maximum inconvenience for the Democrats. His character as shown by his actions is loathsome.

  20. 20
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Judging by his tenure with New School University, he’d be spectacularly inept in his reprise in Congress. In other words, he’d fit in perfectly with the remaining Blue Dogs and would be an incredible asset to the GOP agenda.

  21. 21
    catclub says:

    @Rathskeller: Maximum inconvenience would have been 2010. 2012 might have some Obama coattails, reducing the damage. I did write ‘might’,
    not something less wishy-washy.

  22. 22
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    I wonder what the reason is…

    Health issues?

    Wants to get a head start on his lobbyist career?

    Conscience bothering him?

    Bwahahahahahahahaha… I know I know… good one…

    Perhaps a juicy sex scandal… involving pages… or livestock?

    Bets anyone?

    Form a pool?

  23. 23
    cokane says:

    dunno if NE is totally out of reach for dems over the long run. Obama won an electoral vote in that state. The cities in Nebraska are growing. No chance there in 2012, but maybe one year.

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:

    I know I am a pessimist but given the nasty complexion of this coming senate election season could the GOP be back in control again in 13?

  25. 25
    kindness says:

    @Aexia: Sorry but I disagree. Nelson did his best to sink every good thing Democrats tried to do. Nelson made Democrats make their policy solutions so sucky, they end up not actually working.

    Nelson = Blanche Lincoln.

  26. 26
    askew says:

    That asshole. Nice of him to retire after having the DNC spend money defending him in ads already.

    For those who are cheering, you are incredibly short-sighted. Any replacement to Nelson will be far to the right of him and a Republican. That means the Republicans only have to win 3 seats now to take majority in the Senate.

  27. 27
    freelancer says:

    I’d say thank fucking god, but this is good news for Jeff Fortenberry or Don Stenburg or any other wingnut former AG. The only hope is Scott Kleeb, but he’s yet to win a run for national office.

    I’d run, but I’m just a wage slave who can’t stand winter, so I abandoned the state for a warmer climate. I turn 30 in April, so I’d meet the Constitutional requirement. But that’s about it.

  28. 28
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik: Plus, he’s a minor political celebrity already, so he’d be on Meet the Press and such A LOT, warning Democrats away from acting too liberal. Nelson has even worse ideological leanings, IMHO, but Kerrey loves the limelight rather more.

  29. 29
    Senyordave says:

    @Aexia: Sad but true. His replacement will just vote 100% against his constituents self-interest, and once in, they will vote for him forever.

    Thank you, sir, may I have another!

  30. 30
    Steve says:

    I’m not saying anyone should actually love Ben Nelson, but without his vote the Republicans would have successfully filibustered the PPACA. You’d think that would at least count for something, but instead everyone is just like “fuck Ben Nelson, that traitor.”

  31. 31
    shortstop says:

    @kay: Yep, and it’ll be more than one job — it’ll be a lobbying position, high-paying seats on several corporate boards, a “visiting scholar” position at some questionable think tank, speaking engagements…and of course he gets to keep most of his campaign war chest.

    He’s more valuable for all those things as a nominal Democrat than as a Republican because the GOP can trot him out to defend its horrifying policies as stuff “moderate Democrats” agree on. “Former Senator Ben Nelson serves to illustrate how far to the radical left the Democratic caucus has now drifted…”

    @Rathskeller: Maximum inconvenience for us and maximum profit for him. He’s a piece of dog doo.

  32. 32
    mary says:

    @Aexia: You are so right. I think they will have trouble finding anyone to run on the Democratic ticket. Ben is retiring because he stood a good chance of losing. Nebraska had a history of electing a few Democrats to state and federal offices. But I believe that is now over. The state party is now much more rigid and much more radical than in the past.

  33. 33
    FlipYrWhig says:

    If Glenn Greenwald really does have a candidate-recruiting consultancy, this would be an excellent occasion for it.

  34. 34
    ant says:

    Ben Nelson is a fucking douche. Ben Nelson can go fuck himself.

  35. 35
    4tehlulz says:

    He retires right after corn subsidies die.

    Just a coincidence I’m sure.

  36. 36
    slag says:

    @Steve:

    You’d think that would at least count for something, but instead everyone is just like “fuck Ben Nelson, that traitor.”

    Really? Is “everyone” saying that? Fuckin hyperbole…it just makes me want to set myself on fire!

  37. 37
    Jewish Steel says:

    @cathyx: Here you make Rahm’s point.

  38. 38
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mary: That’s why I think the idea of Chuck Hagel making a return as an “independent” (i.e., an old-school establishment Republican sidelined by his old party’s newfound extremism) seems highly plausible.

  39. 39
    Keith G says:

    @Aexia: But sometime we do have to take the chance and actually fight for what we believe in. We might lose, and even if we do it will not be the end of all we love.

    And actually, engaging in such a fight can actually generate it’s own momentum. Hope the Neb Dems can find a younger, no nonsense progressive to stir things up.

  40. 40
    eemom says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I can’t quite tell where he places Nebraska, but if it’s considered Far West, a populist Democrat like Jon Tester might have a chance.

    Especially with a Christine O’Donnell or Sharon Angle on the other side.

    I know less than nothing about the state, but isn’t that a plausible outcome?

  41. 41
    GregB says:

    So long to Benedict Flintstone.

  42. 42
    eric says:

    sherrod brown is gonna need the money more.

  43. 43
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Chuck Hagel, like Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe, is one of those Republicans who knows better and therefore, IMHO, owes the country a little effort and a little discomfort in undoing the damage they helped do in the Bush years. Not that I’m holding my breath.

  44. 44
    Jennifer says:

    @askew: 4 seats, if you count the seat they’re going to lose in MA.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    He has been very maddening to me at times. Lots of times. He seemed to be, though, about the best we were gonna get out of Neb.

    Be nice if he would stop being a weenie/DINO for the last months of his career.

  46. 46
    mary says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Chuck is done with politics or, at least, done with elected positions.

  47. 47
    kay says:

    @Steve:

    You’d think that would at least count for something

    No, it does count for something. It’s just that by the time you get “it” you just are so sick of him.

    Sometimes I just opt for chaos and uncertainty, rather than excruciating boredom and fatigue:)

  48. 48
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @askew: A resigned shrug and an honest evaluation of the man’s character and politics is not the same thing as “cheering”.

  49. 49
    slag says:

    @Keith G:

    And actually, engaging in such a fight can actually generate it’s own momentum. Hope the Neb Dems can find a younger, no nonsense progressive to stir things up.

    Being quite susceptible to this argument, my main concerns involve infrastructure and fortitude. Do Dems, in these more conservative states, have the infrastructure with which to fight the war and the fortitude to win it? Because that’s what it seems to take. And I don’t often see it.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: This situation is tailor-made for a candidate like Webb, Tester, or Bill Halter, or Paul Hackett. An outsidery populist for the “netroots” to champion, perhaps by working around the hidebound local Dem organization. This is where they should be able to shine.

  51. 51
    eemom says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    srsly. Howzabout some accountability now.

  52. 52

    It is hard to care much. Nebraska will go full tea-bagger with or without Nelson on the ballot.

  53. 53
    freelancer says:

    @eemom:

    Nelson beat Pete Ricketts in 2006. Ricketts was basically the wingnut precursor to O’Donnell and Angle. Before the fringe got all the way ahold of the party, the Son of the Founder of Ameritrade and the owner of the Cubs ran by hammering the social conservative, family values, gay hating, anti-abortion bell for all it was worth. He was another 1-percenter using the bigotry of the GOP voter to try and gain office. He probably didn’t give a shit about any social issues, but that didn’t make his campaign any less retarded, treacly, or disgusting. Also he ran one of the most ridiculous negative ads of the 2006 cycle, but by 2010 standards, it looks nuanced and quaint.

  54. 54
    Triassic Sands says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I’d consider Kerrey replacing Nelson to be a virtual tie. Both are infuriating Conservadems. Kerrey might be a tiny bit better, but I don’t see that as guaranteed. And Kerrey is likely to be more vocal about what a great gift to the Senate he is.

    I won’t miss the hair/helmet.

    @cathyx:

    If you look at Senator rankings (progressivepunch.org), you’ll see that Nelson ranks 53rd, just ahead of the Maine ladies, but he does have a much higher “progressive” score than any Republican. His voting record is more like that of an old school Republican than it is like one of today’s lunatics.

    What makes him so maddening is that he is often AWOL when the Democrats need him most, but the PPACA was a huge exception.

  55. 55
    freelancer says:

    @GregB:

    So long to Benedict Flintstone.

    Has anyone seen my shit? ‘Cause I just LOST it!

    lmao.

  56. 56
    PeakVT says:

    Nelson’s voting record. His lifetime crucial vote score is halfway between Manchin and Collins.

    ETA: Triassiac Sands got there first.

  57. 57
    MikeJ says:

    @cathyx:

    It’s not like he ever voted like a democrat.

    He voted for Harry Reid for majority leader, which is the vote that counts more than any other.

  58. 58
    BGinCHI says:

    OT, but is anyone bringing it like Kthug lately?

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....epression/

    Anyone read that Brooks column?

    ETA:

    “There is nothing — nothing — in what we see suggesting that this current depression is more than a problem of inadequate demand. This could be turned around in months with the right policies. Our problem isn’t, ultimately, economic; it’s political, brought on by an elite that would rather cling to its prejudices than turn the nation around.” (Krugman, final paragraph)

  59. 59
    shortstop says:

    @freelancer: I missed that the first time — now having a coughing fit that morphed out of the bark of laughter.

  60. 60
    The Moar You Know says:

    The Republicans haven’t finished learning how incredibly self-destructive purity purges are.

    The Democrats haven’t started.

    It would be nice if some of you would pull your heads out of your asses and at least try to work with reality.

    We are not in a position where we can afford to lose even an asswipe like Nelson.

  61. 61
    Catsy says:

    Taking a balanced look at Nelson is good up to a point, and I don’t disregard his vote on the PPACA or the fact that he was one more vote for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate.

    But it’s also a fact that his career has, over its entire course, been a net negative for the Democrats in terms of messaging, procedural votes, and leverage with Republicans. What someone wrote above about Nelson being like an old-school Republican is closer to the mark than anything else I’ve seen written, IMO: Nelson was never a Democrat, he was a moderate Republican who ran as a Democrat and nominally caucused with them.

    I regret the potential loss of a vote for control of the Senate, but let’s be realistic–that loss, while significant, is tempered by the fact that we have one less Fox News Democrat in Congress regularly giving “bipartisan” cover to Republican ideas and actions. That’s a lot more damaging than people seem to think.

  62. 62
    BO_Bill says:

    This is very unfortunate as Harry Reid is like so smart and all about serving the American people instead of his immediate family. Taking any power away from Harry would be a damn shame. I am still very shaken and upset about the American people telling Nancy Pelosi to shut the fuck up and go back to her vineyards and non-union sweatshop-restaurant chain.

  63. 63
    BGinCHI says:

    Jesus Fucking Christ. Brooks’ column today is such a shit pile I can’t believe it. I had to read it several times just to convince myself I hadn’t had an aneurysm.

    Brooks:

    “Moreover, the information economy widens inequality for deep and varied reasons that were unknown a century ago. Inequality is growing in nearly every developed country. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, over the past 30 years, inequality in Sweden, Germany, Israel, Finland and New Zealand has grown as fast or faster than inequality in the United States, even though these countries have very different welfare systems.”

    Does this jive with OECD data??

    “The United States spends far more on education than any other nation, with paltry results. It spends far more on health care, again, with paltry results. It spends so much on poverty programs that if we just took that money and handed poor people checks, we would virtually eliminate poverty overnight. In the progressive era, the task was to build programs; today the task is to reform existing ones.”

    What?? We spend how much per student compared with countries like Finland and Germany? And “paltry results”? How much is a “paltry”? We have the greatest post-grad system in the world, no thanks to Brooks’s party. It’s being eroded by Brooks’s party.

    I fucking hate that idiot.

  64. 64
    slag says:

    @BGinCHI:

    How much is a “paltry”? We have the greatest post-grad system in the world, no thanks to Brooks’s party. It’s being eroded by Brooks’s party.

    Maybe he’s referring to his own education.

  65. 65
    dead existentialist says:

    @Cain: You are hilarious. I say that as a Nebraskan.

  66. 66
    MikeJ says:

    I might remind people that Obama actually carried an electoral vote in Nebraska, one of the few states that aren’t winner take all in the EC. In theory a good Dem could win.

  67. 67
    gocart mozart says:

    @Aexia:
    Bob Kerry if he decides to run would have a better chance of winning than Nelson and also would be a better Senator. I have no idea whether he wants to try though.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:

    @Aexia:

    If anyone thinks we can do better than Nelson out of Nebraska, I’d love to know who it is that can get elected there.

    Short of cloning Al Franken’s brain and implanting it in Tom Osborne’s head …

  69. 69
    dedc79 says:

    I’m probably making the mistake of assuming the man had any principles, but I have to wonder whether he has any regrets about all that he did over the past three years to obstruct obama and the democrats. The implication was that he needed this cover in order to get re-elected. Instead he sold us down the river every chance he got, and will now doubly screw the party by not running again.

  70. 70
    Mark S. says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It spends far more on health care, again, with paltry results.

    Yeah, that’s a mystery. I wonder if there’s anything all of these other countries have that the US doesn’t.

    I’ll have to get back to you on that.

  71. 71
    kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    It would be nice if some of you would pull your heads out of your asses and at least try to work with reality.

    It’s not purity with me, it’s really not. I accept conservative Democrats as a reality. Nelson was damaging, because of the fake-humility combined with grandstanding, and ego, and gross transparent bribe-seeking for his state.

    I think that’s damaging to the idea of government. He’s what people hate about Congress.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @BGinCHI:

    We spend how much per student compared with countries like Finland and Germany?

    I think Brooksie is playing that common Republican game of looking at the gross dollar expenditure instead of the per-person or per-capita expenditure. I’m sure that the US spends far, far more in gross dollars on education than Germany does, because we have a much larger population (300 million vs. 80 million).

    Republicans love to pretend that gross expenditure is the only thing that matters and not the number of people involved. They love to pretend that a dollar is a dollar is a dollar and one dollar spent on one person is exactly the same as one dollar spent on 10 people.

  73. 73
    dead existentialist says:

    @askew: How right you are. That POS couldn’t even be bribed by close to 1 million dollars in ad money because he knew he was going to get his ass handed to him in 2012.

    Of course, what does that say about the DNC? Prepare for a really scary Senator from NE next year. (Think Rand Paul-like.)

  74. 74
    Keith G says:

    @slag:

    Do Dems, in these more conservative states, have the infrastructure with which to fight the war and the fortitude to win it? Because that’s what it seems to take.

    That is a great point. My feeling is that even a losing effort can build such an infrastructure, as in Goldwater ’64.

  75. 75
    liberal says:

    Don’t know about BN being a traitor to the Dems in terms of pronouncements, style, etc, but IIRC he was the rightmost Dem Senator (at least at one recent point)…and was to the left of every single Republican in the Senate.

  76. 76
    dead existentialist says:

    @Catsy: Well he served 2 terms as governor as a Republican, so you may have something here;)

  77. 77
    liberal says:

    @PeakVT:
    How meaningful is it to compare lifetime scores of different Senators, though, given that you’re going to end up comparing scores from different years that way?

  78. 78
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    The problem with folks like Nelson and Lieberfuck weren’t necessarily the overall lifetime record of votes. It’s the fact that, especially recently, their record on a lot of crucial votes have felt like explicit fuckovers, undermining a whole lot of positions if not always outright voting against the rest of the party. Like with Nelson, he didn’t precisely stand hard against health reform, but he fucked it over hard enough to basically hand the GOP victories. Calculated positioning to maximize the fuckovers while still being nominally more ‘liberal’ than any of the GOPers due to the monolithic bloc voting.

  79. 79
    Elizabelle says:

    Faint praise department: at least Nelson gave Nebraska more notice than Evan “American Select” Bayh did.

    Also hope to be pleasantly surprised by a strong Democratic challenger.

    It could happen.

  80. 80
    liberal says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik:

    The problem with folks like Nelson and Lieberfuck weren’t necessarily the overall lifetime record of votes.

    There’s no way you can put Nelson in the same league as Lieberman. First, the populace of NE is far to the right of that of CT. Second, Lieberman endorsed McCain, which as an act of treachery really has no parallel in anything Nelson did.

  81. 81
    BGinCHI says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, if he’s even smart enough to be playing a game that’s not just called “Ideology.”

    He doesn’t make arguments; he makes assumptions without evidence.

    Whenever he uses a ; in a sentence you can tell he’s lying.

  82. 82

    You do not have to be BN to win in NE but you sure won’t look like a NY Senator. The good news is that the D label isn’t poison – see BN. The bad news is that corporate money is going to be there in a big way, it is easier to buy an election in NE than NY or…

    The worse news is that the solution seen will be for a D to be either a GOP mini-clone or not support one who isn’t as hopeless. Corporate money is prett much guaranteed to flow GOP unless there is a big a sell-out as BN around on the D side.

  83. 83
    freelancer says:

    Corporate money is prett much guaranteed to flow GOP unless there is a big a sell-out as BN around on the D side.

    In Nebraska, that’s not as big of a stretch as you might think it is. Most of the population is centered in Lincoln and Omaha. Lincoln is largely a college town, and Omaha is pretty diverse in opinion and party makeup. The last 3 mayors have been Democrats and the City Council swings from election to election. I bet Nebraska Dems could find another corporate sellout to put a D after his name before this thread dies. Hell, this race could be exactly what David Sokol needs to redeem his “good” name!

  84. 84
    rikyrah says:

    I wanna be sad but he was a traitorous prick right up until the end.

  85. 85
    NR says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    We are not in a position where we can afford to lose even an asswipe like Nelson.

    When it comes to right-wing Dems, I always hear the refrain “I’d rather have them on the inside of the tent pissing out than on the outside pissing in.”

    Problem is, they’re on the inside pissing in.

    Good riddance, Nelson.

  86. 86
    dead existentialist says:

    @freelancer:

    Hell, this race could be exactly what David Sokol needs to redeem his “good” name!

    Bwahaaaaa! Good one, my friend.

  87. 87
    handsmile says:

    Having been transformed into an urban metrosexual while residing in New York City for the past ten years, it is most improbable that Bob Kerrey would seek reelection as senator from Nebraska.

    Hired in 2001 by The New School (aka New School University, the New School for Social Research) to be a “rainmaker” as university president, Kerrey’s tenure was characterized by administrative upheavals, faculty antagonism and student protests. (He did enjoy modest success as a fundraiser.) He slunk away from the post one year ago.

    In May 2010, seeking employment away from the ferocious battles of academia, Kerrey was selected to be Hollywood’s chief lobbyist, heading up the Motion Picture Association of America, but he and MPAA’s board were unable to settle on a contract. (Connecticut’s retiring senator Chris Dodd eagerly accepted the position.)

    Even though he possesses the two seeming prerequisites for the Senate, a titanic ego and thin record of legislative accomplishment, and has recently returned to be a resident, Bob Kerrey must prefer a more sedate existence than a quixotic venture to be junior senator from the Cornhusker State.

    This will be one state Senate Democrats will not hold in 2012. They’ve still got 22 more to defend. And mark my words, the Senate will be the real battle next year!

  88. 88
    Elizabelle says:

    Given the contempt we drive by commenters have for Sen. Nelson, think how awful it would be to have him as your candidate as a Nebraskan.

    Talk about an enthusiasm gap.

  89. 89
    slag says:

    @Keith G:

    That is a great point. My feeling is that even a losing effort can build such an infrastructure, as in Goldwater ‘64.

    Agreed. But then you have resource allocation decisions to make. Expending resources to fight in NE could easily mean reducing resources available to fight in NV, for instance. What are the potential costs nationally, and are the potential gains in NE worth that cost? Even if you assume (as you probably should, if the Dems are doin it right) that investing in a state now will generate more revenue for the party later, timing matters. Will those later gains be worth possibly losing the Senate now? I don’t know that anything is worth losing the Senate now. But then, that appears to be a never ending argument. I don’t know how real it is. Sometimes, as you said, it just provides an excuse for not even trying.

  90. 90

    Before you write somebody off in NE it would pay to take a look at Rep Pete DeFazio (OR-D) who is in what ought to be a RED CD but keeps winning. You’d have to go a bit to be ashamed of Pete as a (D) but he wins it. No, that isn’t because his CD is in OR, it is mostly because Pete knows how to do it and it can be done.

  91. 91
    Thoughtcrime says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Anyone read that Brooks column?

    Dean Baker did:

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/.....ence-again

  92. 92
    Aexia says:

    A conservative Dem is simply objectively better than a Republican in all cases. It baffles me that this isn’t obvious to people.

    Each potential you have access to reduces the leverage of each individual vote.

    That is why Obama courted Snowe and Collins so heavily during the health care process. By opening the possibility of getting their votes, it made the votes of Nelson, Lieberman, etc less valuable because Obama could potentially get a vote from somewhere else to make it up. More votes means you can play people off against each other in negotiations.

    Otherwise, if you only have as many votes as you need to pass, each person has a veto over the legislation – infinite leverage really. I really can’t grasp why progressives think that situation is stronger than one with lots of Blue Dogs to play against each other.

  93. 93
    Jon O. says:

    @BGinCHI: Conor Oberst 2012: More believable crying than John Boehner

  94. 94
    Marc says:

    @cathyx:

    He’s basically a republican and we aren’t losing anything.

    Except possibly control of the Senate. But otherwise…

  95. 95

    There are Democrats that don’t quite look like other Dems and then there are Ben Nelsons. It is not goddam necessary to be a Ben Nelson to win, it is however, stupid to think that Chuck Schumer would win in NE.

    I don’t know which is worse, a Ben Nelson or the fucking justifying of the (D) after a Ben Nelson as though there is nothing else possible. It sure the hell isn’t possible with that attitude.

  96. 96
    Cain says:

    @Chuck Butcher

    Yes, Peter DeFazio is able to do it.. but I did not know his district
    is red or is capable of being red. That’s pretty cool..

    The rockstar in Oregon is Earl Blumenauer, who young people really
    love. You’ll know if he shows up. He definitely has a presence. :)

  97. 97
    Maude says:

    @handsmile:
    Kerry is a rich guy who wants him some press attention again.
    He didn’t talk about what happened in Vietnam until after he left the senate.
    That means he didn’t trust the people of Nebraska when he first ran for governor.
    He’s probably not wanted anywhere.

  98. 98
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Nelson and Blanche Lincoln are pretty much the worst of both worlds, both conservative ideologically and beholden to big biz. Given the way we see American politics, there ought to be an opening for a loyal Democratic foot soldier who was more in the “plains populist” tradition, who might be aggravating from time to time on social issues but who would be somewhat under the radar — whereas Nelson was prone to grandstanding, and IMHO Bob Kerrey would do that even more. In theory, you should be able to get at least a Jon Tester out of Nebraska. And even if it didn’t work this time, maybe someone could use the campaign as a dry run or a career builder.

    If there really is a latent passion for progressivism out there in the populace just waiting for an appealing messenger, this is an opportune moment. Bring her on.

  99. 99
    Aexia says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Then go fucking elect them. What I see here (and elsewhere) is a lot of cheering and celebration that we’re going to get another Republican out of Nebraska, not this mythical better-Democrat-than-Ben-Nelson-who-can-get-elected-in-Nebraska.

  100. 100

    @Aexia:
    Try running for Congress sometime and then get back to me about my levels committment. I live in OR, why in the hell would I want to move to NE?

  101. 101

    @Cain:
    Earl is cool, Pete is a damn rockstar. In person/person Pete is a bit more engaging than Earl, to me anyhow. Pete’s CD is quite red in most respects, very rural. (it certainly is not OR2, though)

  102. 102

    @Aexia:

    cheering and celebration that we’re going to get another Republican out of Nebraska

    No, what you see is a real dislike of Ben Nelson, the Republican part of it is your take and you insistence. I don’t live there, don’t want to, and won’t – so I have no say whatever in what NE and its pols get up to. I can point out that it is possible to do without being a BN dick to do it.

    Yep, I think what ails the Democratic Party is just exactly what you are. All that matters is the (D) not anything else. You do realize that these necessary dicks wind up being Chairs of important Committees, don’t you. These dicks wind up directing Party legislation? This isn’t about a purity test, it is about just how far do you want to take the pursuit of power and whether there is another way to do it.

    You got nothing to back up your Republican win with other than spleen, I gave an example, you…

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Scott Kleeb has tried many times to implement “another way to do it.” He just keeps losing. I checked and, when Nelson steps down, there will officially be _no_ statewide office-holders in NE who are Democrats. It kind of seems like Generic Democrat should have a shot there, but actual Democrats with faces and histories appear to have a hell of a time breaking through.

    Like I was saying, though, it seems like a perfect opportunity for a true grassroots Democrat — why not one who sounds like Elizabeth Warren or at least Brian Schweitzer and gets people excited? Markos Moulitsas wrote a whole book about it. Glenn Greenwald is one of the leaders of an organization dedicated to it. Time to shine. I hope someone takes an interest and soon. There’s little to lose.

  104. 104
    Aexia says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Yes, they end up influencing legislation and then they vote for it, it passes, it becomes law and the Overton Window shifts in that direction. It’s now the policy of the United States that everyone should have health care, entire markets of unregulated financial products are now being monitored by the government, you better have a good reason for kicking gays out of the military now. And so on.

    The Republican that replaces Nelson will just make sure none of it becomes law.

    I’m in politics because I want to actually get shit done. If kissing Nelson and Lieberman’s ass is what it takes to get Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, DADT repeal, and all the other bills that passed, then fuck pride. Just get it done.

    All I ever see from the Netroots is macho posturing that’s never accomplished anything of note.

    Like it or not, Nelson is objectively better than any Republican. If there’s someone better than Nelson who can get elected, then let’s see them. I really do want to see them because otherwise, we’re going to get a real shitheel of a Senator out of Nebraska.

  105. 105
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Aexia: The “netroots” approach had some impact on getting Jon Tester and Jim Webb elected over their deeper-pocketed, better-connected primary rivals. That was 2006. They’ve gotten close with other races, but those are the biggest victories. Nebraska has to be cheap for media buys and is historically one of the epicenters for “prairie populist” politics. If netroots theories work at all, they ought to work in a race just like this. Then again, I popped over to DailyKos and didn’t see a lot of zeal for trying. Hopefully strategizing has commenced.

  106. 106
    NR says:

    @Aexia:

    A conservative Dem is simply objectively better than a Republican in all cases.

    No, they’re not.

    You can point to voting records all you like–“Would you rather have someone who votes with you 50% of the time or 0%?” However, what this ignores is the role that these right-wing Dems play in weakening and watering down legislation before it ever comes up for a vote. See the health care bill, the financial “reform” bill, etc.

    So what we end up with is legislation that is either conservative or ineffectual (or both). The only difference is that the Democratic party gets blamed for it instead of the Republicans.

  107. 107
    NR says:

    @Aexia:

    It’s now the policy of the United States that everyone should have health care

    No, it’s not. It’s now the policy of the United States that everyone should have health insurance (paid for with their own money). That is not the same thing as everyone having health care. And you can thank the right-wing Dems for that.

  108. 108
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NR: But you still need to evaluate these things against the alternatives. Baseball statheads have the concept of “VORP”: Value Over Replacement Player. Something similar is in order for politicos. That’s why Joe Lieberman has always been particularly vexing, because the next guy off the bench as a Connecticut Democrat could hardly be worse than Lieberman… whereas there might not _be_ a next guy off the bench as a Nebraska Democrat.

    But in the overarching sense, yes, I agree, Ben Nelson is particularly atrocious because of his grandstanding. Mark Begich is no great shakes ideologically, but he doesn’t make a scene the way Nelson does.

    The trick, of course, is getting an inoffensive conventional Democrat — or better yet, an energetic progressive who connects with the populace — elected from Nebraska in the first place. In theory, it could work. But the best hope in recent years, Scott Kleeb, hasn’t come especially close.

  109. 109
    Aexia says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    2006 was pretty much the high water mark for the Netroots. Tester, Webb and maybe a few marginal races. But in retrospect, considering how ineffective they’ve been lately, I wonder how much credit they should be given.

    Webb was a former Defense Secretary who had the entire national Democratic establishment line up behind him and Tester was President of the Montana State Senate who blew out his primary opponent. It’s not like either of them were unconnected outsiders storming the castle.

  110. 110
    Aexia says:

    @NR:

    The policy is everyone should have health care. The argument is now not *whether* we should provide health care but *how* to provide it. Right now it’s mandatory health insurance. In a few years, there’ll be a public option. In a decade, we’ll be shifting the age for Medicare down. And a few years later, it’ll be Medicare for all.

    For all the Netroots’ obsession with the Almighty Overton Window, they seem to miss how Obamacare moved it.

    @NR:

    But without Nelson, none of that would’ve passed. Unless you’re one of those purist dumb fucks who think the status quo was a better option than what passed, those bills are an improvement and like it or not, they wouldn’t have been possible without conservative Democrats like Nelson.

  111. 111
    Aexia says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The grandstanding is annoying, but in the long-term scheme of things, it’s utterly irrelevant. I’ll take ten egotistical prima donnas like Lieberman over ten Republicans any day.

  112. 112
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Aexia: I have similar sentiments, but I’d love to be proven wrong, especially with a gate-crashing candidacy in Nebraska. It’s not often that you’re presented with an opportunity to put theory into practice like that.

  113. 113
    liberal says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Baseball statheads have the concept of “VORP”: Value Over Replacement Player. Something similar is in order for politicos. That’s why Joe Lieberman has always been particularly vexing, because the next guy off the bench as a Connecticut Democrat could hardly be worse than Lieberman… whereas there might not be a next guy off the bench as a Nebraska Democrat.

    Agreed.

  114. 114

    @Aexia:
    You posit the inevitibility of your either/or scenario when in fact what you’ve got to go on is Ben Nelson. I don’t know the NE bench and I have not the least interest in getting myself involved in their politics. I do know that Democrats who aren’t Ben Nelson can get elected and re-elected in places that are considered red and whose smaller races go red.

    You’re operating from a self-fullfilling prophesy, it must be done your way and win or lose it validates you and so must be repeated. I don’t have the least doubt that it would take a very good candidate with a very smart campaign to hold that seat D, but you require that it also be a Ben Nelson to do it. A Pete DeFazio is not on every bench, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

  115. 115
    NR says:

    @Aexia:

    The policy is everyone should have health care.

    No, it’s not. The policy does nothing to provide health care to a single person. The policy forces everyone to pay money to private, for-profit companies and then hopes that those companies will provide health care. That is not even close to the same thing.

    Insurance does not mean care. That fact ought to be blindingly obvious to anyone.

  116. 116
    NR says:

    @Aexia:

    But without Nelson, none of that would’ve passed. Unless you’re one of those purist dumb fucks who think the status quo was a better option than what passed, those bills are an improvement,

    The bills are not an improvement in the sense that they allow the Democratic leadership to claim “Welp, we fixed the problem” when in reality nothing of the sort has happened.

    People around here love to claim that the ACA was just a first step. Problem is, it’s not just a first step for the Democratic leadership. It’s the end. When was the last time you heard Obama or Reid argue, in public, that the ACA was just the beginning and we need additional health care legislation? Has either of them proposed any additional legislation to “fix” the ACA?

    Show me that one of them has done that, and you might have a point. Problem is, you can’t.

  117. 117
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Scott Kleeb was on paper a formidable Democratic candidate for Nebraska. He ran in 2008, a year where Democrats overachieved. And he got waxed, 57.5%-40.1%. That doesn’t bode well for a non-Ben Nelson candidate.

  118. 118
    Aexia says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    The point is that the Nebraska Dem bench consists of the centrist prima donna who used to hold the seat 11 years ago and a guy who lost his House race when he ran 5 years ago.

    If there’s a Jon Tester type, I’d love to see him win. The problem is that nobody seems to have any name to throw out there.

  119. 119

    @Aexia:
    Let me add, I’ve not suggested primarying Ben Nelson. He quit. You act as though he should generate something other than dislike because… ?

    You act as though someone pissed in your cheerios when in fact he quit. The seat is fully in play because he quit. I’m sorry he was what passed as a Democrat and helped define the Democrats in outcomes and that will outlive a lot of things.

    It will be a cold day in hell before anyone passes another stimulus because the performance of one fucked up by being ladened with GOPer stuff didn’t do enough. The ACA as is/perceived and the Party fight over it will leave that out in the cold for some time. Do you really want to hold up DADT and what was traded for it and the outcomes of that trade? Sure you do, DADT directly affected some thousands of people and the trade involved the funding of the entire Fed Govt and led directly to the Debt debacle to… There are costs beyond the immediate. 2010 and the swing vote may well have been the outcome of those trades. Like it better now?

    LBJ knew the costs of CRA and it lead straight to RMN, despite that I think the trade was worth it, plus it cleaned up the Democratic Party quite a bit. What later outcomes are you willing to set in motion just for a (D)? This isn’t a damn sport, sometimes a loss is better than a win. (well there is the draft thingy)

    edit I have to leave for practice

  120. 120
    Aexia says:

    @NR:

    Maybe it’s because one half of Congress is intent on killing (by any means possible) what’s already been passed. You don’t think that has anything to do with it, do you?

    With political geniuses like you, it’s no wonder that the Netroots is feared in the political world for their astute political acumen.

  121. 121
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Aexia: The way you’re screeching you’d think Jane Hamsher herself had just announced a primary challenge to Nelson. Do you not understand that Nelson chose, of his own volition, not to run? There’s exactly one person responsible for Ben Nelson not being in the senate in 2013, and that person is Ben Nelson.

    God forbid that anyone be happy that Nelson will no longer be pissing on his own party’s agenda. No! Ben Nelson is retiring, and if the response from the netroots is to look at the bright side of the situation, then fuck them!

    It must be a rough night at your place, what with all the shirt ripping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that no doubt followed Nelson’s announcement.

    (Or rather the announcement that he will make the announcement. Just to keep the pedants off my back.)

  122. 122
    NR says:

    @Aexia: Yes, yes, it’s all the Republicans’ fault. Even when Democrats have a supermajority in both chambers. You just keep right on believing that, Sparky.

  123. 123
    OzoneR says:

    @kindness:

    Nelson = Blanche Lincoln.

    and who replaced Blanche Lincoln

  124. 124
    OzoneR says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    I do know that Democrats who aren’t Ben Nelson can get elected and re-elected in places that are considered red and whose smaller races go red.

    who?

  125. 125
    jacksmith says:

    REALITY!!

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/ifli.....alth-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculator.....lator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )

    START NOW!

    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

    Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.

    Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.

    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.

    Sincerely

    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

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