Last month, Ben Nelson did a TV ad defending his vote on health care. He talks straight to the camera and disses those "who wanted a government takeover." That sounds like an attack on people who supported the public option, because that's as close as Congress got to a "government takeover."
That half-million-dollar ad was paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party. Where did they get all that money to waste on ads for a candidate not up for election for three more years? Turns out it was from the DNC:
Yes, the DNC and Organizing for America (OFA) have been asking supporters to chip in for the fight to pass real health care reform, including a public option. But, who does it look like benefited from those donations, your donations? Ben Nelson, the guy who worked to kill real reform. And he got the money after he killed real reform, almost like it was a pay off.
Nelson announced his support for the much-weakened Senate health care bill on December 19, 2009. He cast his vote for final passage on December 24, 2009. The DNC transferred money to the Nebraska party on December 28, 2009. You do the math.
Ben Nelson was partly responsible for demanding that the very popular public option and Medicare buy-in were dropped from the bill. His opposition to what was a very right-of-center reform package helped play right into the Republican narrative about health care reform.
The numerous days spent trying to appease Ben Nelson resulted in the Senate vote being delayed, and ended up pushing it very close to the Massachusetts election. The horse-trading Nelson demanded all year greatly damaged the bill's popularity. The Medicaid deal for Nebraska, added to win Ben Nelson's ultimate support, became a huge political issue in the Massachusetts special election. And, of course, that $500,000 would probably have been better spent at that exact moment helping Martha Coakley.
If the DC Democratic establishment wonders why the base is very depressed going into 2010, or wonders why House Democrats are on the path to suffering crushing defeats in the midterm election, actions like this from the DNC are probably part of the answer.