Jay Rockefeller is probably the strongest proponent in the Senate of the public option, and the Senator who proposed an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee to add a strong public option based on Medicare rates in the Senate bill.  And so, Markos Moulitsas, the hold-(or set)-the-Democrats'-feet-on-fire guy and the proprietor of the well-known blog Daily Kos, wants to primary Jay Rockefeller.  At least, that is the only logical conclusion if you read what he had to say on his blog today:
Give us an up or down vote on the public option. Then we'll know who to put on our primary list for the years ahead.
The implication being that if a Democrat in the Senate does not vote for the public option in reconciliation, he or she will be added to Markos' "primary list."  Well, if Markos is to honestly follow through on his threat and not just making empty howls, he has put on that list Sen. Rockefeller who said:
that he thought the maneuver was overly partisan and that he was inclined to oppose it.

"I don't think the timing of it is very good," the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. "I'm probably not going to vote for that, although I'm strongly for the public option, because I think it creates, at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship] ... as possible. "

Rockefeller added: "I don't think you [pursue] something like the public option, which cannot pass, will not pass.
Just to be sure, Sen. Rockefeller is the one that pushed for a strong public option in the Senate.  He fought and fought and fought for it - far more than Markos will ever do - and realized that it was not achievable in the context of the current bill.  Rockefeller is not a Johnnie-come-lately to the public option.  He's the one that took the fight for the strong, Medicare-rate public option to the lion's den, the Senate finance committee:

Were it not for Jay Rockefeller, the fight in the Senate for the public option would be a whole lot shorter.  And now Markos tells us he wants to punish people like this if they don't vote for the public option in reconciliation due to what they believe can and cannot be (and should and shouldn't be) put through reconciliation.  Really, Markos?  You really wanna pick this fight?  I know what side I stand on in that fight, Markos, and it isn't yours.

Ezra Klein (he's fast becoming my favorite economic and domestic policy analyst) puts it very, very well what Rockefeller is doing, despite the price he is likely to pay from the angers of people like Markos.
I've had multiple offices tell me that they think this whole public option resurgence makes passage of the bill less likely, even as their bosses are being touted as supporters of the public option strategy...

Rockefeller will pay for his comment yesterday, because he said publicly what the other offices are saying privately: He supports the public option, but think it's too dangerous to attempt in a reconciliation meant to close out a fragile and uncertain process. The left is going to hammer him for that, and understandably so. I wouldn't be surprised to see him walk it back. But the truth is he's treating liberals with a lot more respect than the offices that are telling them what they want to hear but have no intention of actually passing a public option.
This is, as Ezra calls it, the inconvenient honesty on Rockefeller's part.  It, I think, is also the inconvenient truth many on the ideological blog-leaders side, are unwilling to admit.  The resurgence of the public option is ignoring the fierce urgency of health reform and making health reform less likely to happen after it has been delayed so much already.  Not because it's a bad idea, but because of the internal dynamics and politics of Congress.

This is why I hate knee-jerk reactions like the one Markos put out today.  These types of threats are not helping the chances of health care reform, they are hurting its chances.  Rockefeller knows it.  Ezra Klein knows it.  And guess what?  So do the Senators who are signing that letter.  Markos wants to make Democrats face primary challenges, fine.  I think democracy is a good thing.  But try to identify who the real foes of the progressive movement are, who the real opponents of our values are, who the real threats to our achievements are.  And that takes more research, more studying, and more thought than the irresponsibility  and arrogance Markos is displaying in his threat, especially considering his influence in the progressive Internet and other media spheres.  Great influence brings great responsibility, and must be exercised wisely.  We need to stop threatening our friends on a knee-jerk basis.  Enough is enough.

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