Senators ‘Holding Health Care Hostage’
In response to the growing refrains from the Left about Joe Lieberman “holding health care hostage,” Steven Taylor observes that, “Either the votes can be mustered or they can’t. It is the way of legislating.”
Or of any close decision-making process, for that matter.
Sandra Day O’Connor used to “hold the Constitution hostage.” Now, Anthony Kennedy does it. Their vote technically is no more powerful than any other member of the Supreme Court but, because they are less predictable, they’re the “swing justice” upon whom the outcome depends.
Ditto Lieberman or Olympia Snowe or Ben Nelson or whoever the 60th Senator is that’s needed to pass a given piece of legislation. Each of them is just one vote out of a hundred. But nobody pays much attention to the 90 or 95 Senators whose votes are pretty much assured, only to the last ones being courted.
We see the same phenomenon outside the political arena, most notably in sports. Outsized credit or blame goes to the kicker who makes or misses the last second field goal, the batter who hits the walk-off home run, or the pitcher who blows the save. The fact that there were dozens of other plays in the game that were equally important is immaterial because of the illusion created by sequence. The dropped touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter that forced the team to settle for a field goal or the holding penalty in the 1st quarter that negated a 47 yard play are forgotten, even though they might have made the last-minute play immaterial.
Is it fair that one senator should have more influence on the outcome of the healthcare debate than the president? Probably not. But that’s the price of proposing contentious legislation.