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Friday, February 04, 2005

Ben Nelson (D-NB) Getting Dangerously Chummy with the Chimp

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Senator Ben Nelson (D-NB) is being targeted as a vital link in BushCo.'s plans to piratize Social Security, and he needs to hear from the netroots community.

I was watching MSNBC this morning and saw him speaking about Social Security piratization, and basically repeating BushCo.'s talking points about an "impending crisis" that needs to be addressed.

Nelson is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), there's no doubt about it. Novak and others have talked about how Nelson has long been targeted by the GOP for defection, and the LA Times ran an article today saying that "the administration sees Sen. Ben Nelson as crucial to its efforts in advancing legislation that would restructure Social Security." They go on to talk about how Nelson and his wife have been socializing with the Bush's of late, riding on Air Force One and watching movies with them.

With Joe Lieberman, Nelson was also one of two Democrats who stood up and applauded at the SOTU address when Bush urged Congress to consider changes to the Social Security system.

At the same time, the NYT is reporting everyone's favorite foaming fascist, James Dobson, has targeted Nelson as one of six Senators whose re-election bids will be opposed if he votes against confirmation of Bush's conservative judges. Taking credit for the defeat of Daschle, particularly on account of his use of the filibuster to block BushCo.'s judicial nominees, Dobson said, "let his colleagues beware, especially those representing 'red' states. Many of them will be in the 'bull's-eye' the next time they seek re-election."

And we all know he has resisted Harry Reid's attempts to hold Democrats together to vote en mass against the confirmations of Alberto Gonzales and Condaleezza Rice.

The point is that Nelson is the recipient of an enormous amount of attention from the right at the moment, both in the form of seduction and coercion. We can't afford to ignore him. Every time someone tunes in and sees a Democrat repeating the "impending crisis" rhetoric of the Administration, it inflicts huge collateral damage. And if Harry Reid can't hold the Democrats in line to oppose Bush's judicial nominations, we're going to suffer some truly repellant judges who won't be gone even if the Dems win back the White House in 2008.

We need to let him know we are watching. I wrote him a letter this morning, and in the process I looked up his voting record and found that despite the fact most of it was straight line DLC/DINO, there were a couple of things that I could get behind (support for public education, opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserves.) So rather than harangue and threaten him at this point (which I worry might push him into the arms of the Repugs) I personally made the decision to applaud and encourage him on these fronts.

I let him know that he shouldn't be intimidated by Dobson's bullying. I took issue with his statements on MSNBC this morning, and I urged him to be more cautious in his language regarding Social Security and expressed my hope that he would stand firm with the Democrats to resist BushCo's attempts to loot one of the only financially healthy government programs around.

Nelson's contact information is:

Washington, D.C.
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
T: (202) 224-6551
F: (202) 228-0012

You can also email him here.