The Swaying of Ben

From Michelle Malkin this morning:

A Hill source says to pay attention to Sen. Ben Nelson. He is reportedly being threatened with closure of an air force base if he doesn’t fall in line and will be offered a “blank check” bribe bigger than Sen. Landrieu’s.

Malkin also reports that after all the uproar, Senator Joe Lieberman is now cool with ObamaCare.

So does that leave only Nelson?

Vote for it and get not only pork, but the whole pig — or shut down Offutt?

Whither Nelson?

**Update 11:45am**
Dan Perrin at Redstate is reporting that Reid’s enticement to Nelson is $300-500 million in earmarks to Nebraska.
Just think of all the bridges to fields in Council Bluffs that could be built!
**Update 1:15pm**

This is a “naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson’s vote.” They are “threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?” asked the Senate staffer.

**Update 2:15**

By the way, TIME Magazine also notes that former Senator, and current New Yorker, Cosmic Bob Kerrey (he of the bridge to a field), is also lobbying Nelson on his vote.
You’ll remember that Kerrey also was the “last” on a big-deal vote back in his day. Kerrey’s deciding factor back then? Not on the merits of the bill. No, Rockin’ Bob spoke to Bill Clinton from the Senate floor saying,

“I could not and should not cast a vote that brings down your presidency.”

So Bob’s apparent advice to EBN? “Don’t worry about tossing everything you’ve said you believe in. Just worry about Barack’s Presidency…”


  1. Right Wing Professor says:

    Wonder how Nebraska Democrats feel about being allied with a gang of Chicago thugs practicing extortion on their own state.

  2. Anonymous says:

    StratCom doesn't close if Nelson votes No. It is too big an operation. I think Obama overstepped big time on this. Ben we welcome you and Lieberman with open arms!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Close Offutt and the area will suffer greatly. Billions lost.

    Wonder if TOM WHITE will back that play?

    Someone has to get his comment on record.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Anon 9:33,
    Hste to bust your bubble but STRATCOM could be moved. Heck Colorado is always putting pressure on taking the mission. You know the same place where the Air Force Academy is, hence lots the senior brass. Not to mention ol Ben hasn't been too successful with getting new missions to Offutt.

    No, I wouldn't put it past these Socialist's to use any excuse to move an intell operation, would give them a chance to get there hooks into them even more.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Michelle Malkin? The woman wouldn't know a truth if it slapped her in the face. Take her comments with a grain of salt. She's an idiot.

  6. Roger Snowden says:

    I have a hard time believing they will shut down Offutt for any reason. And now that this threat is known, the repercussions from such a move would be huge.

    I can see Ben Nelson caving on this. But then, I have been for some time under the assumption he is not going to run again anyway.

    Iron fist of government. Ugly business, this.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What about the renovation of the Veterans Hospital in Omaha? That will take a lot of federal money. If Nelson votes NO maybe we won't get that money soon.

  8. Bye Bye Ben says:

    This is Ben Nelson's out. Why'd you vote for it Ben? "Because they told me they'd close Offutt."

    Truth is he knows this will never happen.

    Question is are there enough Nebraskans stupid enough to buy that excuse? I think not.

  9. Right Wing Professor says:

    Dan Perrin at Redstate is reporting the carrot is $500 million in earmarks. The stick is 'closing every military base in Nebraska' (what is there besides Offutt?). Supposedly they're going to try to craft a 'cover' amendment on abortion, but let's face it, it's very unlikely either the Catholic bishops or Nebraska Right to Life will fall for such a scam, and they're the ones that matter.

    Maybe I'm insufficiently cynical, but I don't see Nelson taking the thirty pieces of silver on this one.

  10. GeosUser says:

    This is what EBN has been holding out for and now he's in position to make that final calculation…vote yes and likely lose in 2012/retire or vote no and run a really tough and underfunded reelection campaign. My money is still on the Benator to find a way to have it both ways. BTW, the VA Medical Center isn't going to receive a major renovation. The proposal is to build a completely new, larger and state of the art facility. The EBN VA Medical Center???

  11. One Out In The Third says:

    Sounds like Obama and Reid have EBN by the shorthairs. He had no plan of not voting for it just as most expected. Now he has an excuse…lame…but he has one. "Git out the way!" Ol'Earmark is linin' up at the trough.

    RWP…there are still a few F.E. Warren missile sites out in western Nebraska that are still active…otherwise National Guard Units.

  12. macdaddy says:

    I told you guys that Nelson was out. He's now angling for his own street, perhaps with a large bronze statue, when he brings home some pork. If he's going to bend us over for a measly $500 million, I'm outraged. He needs to hold out for at least $10 billion.

    RWP, I'm sure that each and every Nebraska Democrat is just fine with these tactics.

    Everybody else, Stratcom can very easily close. It wouldn't happen today or this year, but the decision can be made and carried out before 2012. How you like them apples? Hell, knowing Obama, he may just close it and not move it anywhere else. What does he care?

  13. Right Wing Professor says:


    Aren't the missile sites run out of Cheyenne? I can't believe they're much of a boost to the local economy. And Obama can't close the Guard; it's a state institution, not a federal one.

  14. macdaddy says:

    Nelson should be thankful that the Left is targeting the people of Nebraska. They could have gone after his wife like they are going after Lieberman's wife.

  15. GOPinDC says:

    The source of Malkin et al's "information" is an email circulated by the hyper partisan republican leader's office in the Senate that goes to Republican staff and Republican lobbyists. They are being encouraged to put this Offutt rumor out there by Johanns' staff – in a desperate attempt to pressure Nelson. Johanns should be embarrassed by what his staff is doing here – playing politics with our national security and the men and women who serve us all and are stationed at Offutt.

  16. One Out In The Third says:


    You are correct…F.E. Warren in Cheyenne has control…but there are silo's on the Nebraska side. The USAF at FEW doesn't infuse a lot of money into the local Nebraska communities. Re: the Guard…they are both state and federal and a large amount of their funding comes from the Fed side. Pull the aircraft at Grand Island's new facility or Lincoln's and you can be their will be a lot of locals doing some serious growing.

    I don't know if I can buy into Johanns "leaking out a scare tactic." Funny none of this has shown up on Drudge or The Hill…no mention of Nelson at all in the stories about having enough votes. Could be a Republican bluff but I'm not sold yet. Sweeper may be the national scooper…maybe Sweeper made it up.

  17. macdaddy says:

    GOPinDC: how in the world could Johanns be playing politics with our national security? He's powerless. He can't threaten anything. Harry Reid, on the other hand, can threaten all kinds of things. If you truly are in DC you should know that. Mary Landrieu got $300 million from Reid for her vote and you're pointing fingers at Johanns? I loved that "hyper partisan" tag, though. You do know most of the people on this blog have been around the block a time or two.

  18. Right Wing Professor says:

    According to Politico, Nelson told Obama this morning he isn't on board, and that abortion and other issues are sticking points.

  19. One Out In The Third says:

    Sweeper…Didn't now Ed was your first name…We have been noticing that.

    Maybe Obama will tell EBN what to do with himself like Clinton told Cosmo Bob. I notice in one story about Nelson…it was "I…I….I" …not "the constituent majority I am proud to represent back home in Nebraska."

  20. Street Sweeper says:

    Denial that his boss is being muscled by Chicago thugs? Now THERE's a shock. Because no one could imagine such a threat coming from, say, Rahm Emanuel…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Seems all so serious now the wienie in the middle is getting roasted.

    Look Nelson wanted to be in this position. It remains to see what is constituional fortitude will be. Either way he is done.

    Votes for it, and he is not reelected because of the independent voters are ticked

    Votes against it, and looses support of the libs, and the National Party.

    Either way he is done.

    Kind of like Tom White, he is OUT!

    Maybe Tom will run for Ben's seat, or Lathrop. Either way they lose.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Here's what I have; the US and Russia are currently in talks to sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. As part of that treaty, bases will be closed; it's just a matter of which ones.

    The fact is, if Offutt will be closed then this has been in the works by the current administration for some time. It's exactly the reason why Offutt has been overlooked for some pretty big deals this year, one of the biggest being losing the Global Strike Command Headquarters to Barksdale in Louisiana, despite Offutt being the far better location, as rated by the US Air Force itself.

    It may be a threat, or it might just be that they're going to close it regardless of what Nelson does and putting that out early, giving him a false sense that they might not close it, might force him to swing the way they want him to. I mean it's no skin off the administration's nose if anyone finds out about Offutt's closure, as long as they don't say anything official until the STAR Treaty is signed.

  23. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Having lived amongst the Sicilian mafia for eight years, I'd say Obama and his "thugs" are mere rookies.

    As for StratCom being closed – there is no base too big to be closed when there is money to be made by someone doing so. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us against is thriving, and they surely hear the cash registers ringing when a base moving to another site is involved, especially a big one like StratCom. There's a fairly good sized helicopter base near Grand Island that could go by the wayside despite its being new.

    I arrived for duty at NAF Sigonella when it still had mud streets and one two-lane bowling alley for recreation. It is now one of the largest NATO facilities in Europe. To build it up, they dismantled the base in Naples. They do this kind of stuff all the time.

    One of my past civilian jobs was maintaining classified equipment at the Comiso, IT cruise missile base back in the early 80's. They took an old WWII airbase, added billions of $$$s in infrastructure – barracks, office buildings, bunkers, swimming pools … you name it – ran if for a few years then just pulled up the stakes and handed it over to the Italian Air Force. The military has done this kind of thing over, and over, and over again. Anyone that thinks this kind of politics is something new just plain hasn't been paying attention.

  24. Right Wing Professor says:

    RWP's fearless and totally, completely off-the-wall prediction. Don't hold it against me.

    Nelson will be a Republican by Friday.

    Reasoning; Ben can't bend on abortion. No matter what Reid comes up with, it will either ban abortion funded by federally-organized health plans, in which case the left wing of the Dems won't tolerate it; or it will try to sneak through abortion, in which the pro-life side will sniff it out in a couple of minutes. This is not a grey issue.

    They can come up with as big a bribe as they want. Ben can't be seen trading off human lives for dollars.

    So, he has to vote no. If he does that as a Dem, he'll be shellacked. He'll be punished for the next three years. On the other hand, if he turns over the 41st vote to the GOP, right now, he can probably get a pretty good deal for it. I mean, stiffing the Obama health plan is a major 'W'. Sure, he's in the minority party, but he's guaranteed re-election, and who knows what's going to happen in 2010?

    If there were ever a time to switch, this is it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Really? You guys really believe this BS that Obama threatened to close Offutt unless Nelson caved on abortion? I mean I know that Republicans aren't afraid to make stuff up to try and smear their opponents, but this really takes the cake. It's insulting that Nelson's staff even had to waste time responding to this hogwash.

  26. GeosUser says:

    Nelson was on KFAB this morning shoveling BS as hard and fast as he could. He answered every question with an explanation trying to cover his ass for his upcoming yes votes on cloture and for the final bill. I hope he knows he also announced his retirement in 2013.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Ben is going to vote for this legislation.

    Then he will spend the rest of his political life fighting it. Get ready for statements similar to "I was for it before they changed it."

    His indignation on KFAB rang true, until asked about the increases in costs, his reply "…it's 10 years out" showed his hand. He is all for it.

    Oh well Nebraska voted him in, deal with it.

    C'mon 2012!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Three years ago, Pete Ricketts accurately portrayed Ben Nelson as a senator that always aligns himself and votes with the left on key issues. This is no different.

    For those of you so called conservatives who still voted for Ben Nelson, this health care fiasco is on you.

    Don't any of you, even think about crying foul now.

    We had a real conservative run for that seat, and you all ignored him.

  29. macdaddy says:

    So now the Democrats apparently have a bill that leaves out a public option as well as expanding Medicare but still cuts Medicare and makes insurance mandatory for everyone. That means that people will now be forced, under threat of fines and/or prison, to hand over money to a private company. For older people, that might be a good deal, but for younger people, you will be paying more than twice the rates you would have otherwise because nobody can be denied, and the top rate can't be more than twice as expensive as the bottom rate. That means the bottom rate, i.e., the rate that you, Mr. and Mz. 20-Something, will be paying is way higher starting when Obama signs it, than the day before he signed it. Oh, and you won't be able to get an appointment, so really, you're paying for nothing. And that, my friends, is called a tax. A tax that will immediately be delivered, by Obama, to those evil for-profit insurance companies. So how's that hopey-changey thing working out for ya'?

    And Ben Nelson is going to vote for it.

  30. Right Wing Professor says:

    Kyle, over at you-know-where, has worked himself into a righteous froth over the Offutt threat story. Kyle claims it doesn't have a shred of credibility. How does Kyle know that? He just does.

    Nothing like countering a story with several unnamed sources with one that you pulled out of your, well, you-know-where.

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