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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/1/09

Ben Nelson has Become a Punch Line

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Dean Powers

Senator Ben Nelson, the "centrist" (votes and practically caucuses with the Republicans) Democratic senator from Nebraska has become a punch line in the history of the Democratic Party.

Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2012, is widely becoming recognized as an anomaly in the Democratic Party; a cell in the Democratic Party that has mutated like cancer. Look at this recent article in the Huffington Post.

Sam Stein writes about this suddenly not-surprising situation where Al Franken's confirmation to the Senate, giving Democrats the long sought-after 60-vote, filibuster-proof, majority, is no better than if Democrats had only 58 seats in the Senate.

Again and again Nelson's name comes up as an adjective, referring to something akin to a sickness that is living inside the Democratic Party: "Talking on condition of anonymity, some Democratic strategists were even blunter," the article reports. "'Sixty is an imaginary number,' said one operative. 'You are always going to lose the Ben Nelsons and all the centrists.'"

"The Ben Nelsons..." I guess Ben Nelson has become an adjective, meaning: "Abject moral failure who shames and sullies the office of US Senator." Nelson has voted against his constituents time and again. Look at his vote on April 2nd on Senate Amendment 873, introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln. Nelson joined all 40 Republicans and cast the deciding vote to transfer $440 billion in debt or taxes onto the American middle class from the richest .25 of 1 percent of Americans.

Nelson also voted down legislation introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) that would have allowed homeowners in bankruptcy to renegotiate, or cramdown, mortgages with banks. Funny how he also voted to take those poor homeowners taxpayer money and give it away to Wall Street. Double standard? If you are a corporate CEO and you mess up, you deserve a break. If you are an individual and you mess up, sorry pal.

Votes for the elite (richest of the rich) are Republican votes, not Democratic votes. No wonder all 40 Republicans voted with Nelson. Nelson's Nebraska constituents cast their first electoral vote for a Democrat in 44 years because they were sick of the Republicans...and this is what they get?

Nelson is also threatening to block President Obama's Supreme Court nomination, Sonia Sotomayor, to help Republicans log jam the Senate. Sad that Nelson would help the Republicans play political games while the economy is in a meltdown. The thinking behind this strategy: the longer Republicans can tie up business in the Senate, the less likely they can address substantive issues like health care reform, and that is exactly what the Republicans want to do.

Americans are looking to Nelson to be a man and carry out his responsibilities with honesty and integrity. Instead, he's acting like a Yale brat hazing the freshmen.

May "the Ben Nelsons" always be synonymous with "the Benedict Arnolds."

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Dean Powers lives in Castleton, VT. He has apprenticed at several newspapers including The Nation. He currently writes for OpEdNews. He can be found at

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