In case Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson thought he was going to spin his way out of the Cornhusker Kickback via Greta Van Susteren, PBS just dropped its foot on that top.
In the PBS Frontline documentary, “Obama’s Deal”, the ominous music and photos and voices absolutely hammer The Benator, and pretty much blame him for Republican Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts.
See the whole thing here.
For the main part featuring Nelson, start at 39:45 and go through to around 44:00.
Here is the main transcript featuring Nelson, with the associated photos. But be sure to watch to get the full effect of the dark photos, tinkling piano suited for a horror movie, and voice over that could very well be used on NFL Films. (We kept waiting for the setting to be described as “The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field…”).
There were still some, Senator Lieberman was one, Senator Nelson of Nebraska was another, who still said, “There’s merit to what the insurance industry is saying,” and those were critical swing votes.
Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid were now doing deals just to win over Democrats.
The final holdout was the Democrat from Nebraska, former insurance executive, Ben Nelson.
Ben Nelson is one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, and they needed his vote, they had to have his vote.
That meant sitting down and hammering out a deal. Really giving him almost what he wanted, anything he wanted.
(Former Dem Chair, Howard Dean) The focus at the end in a bill like this was how do you get those last two or three votes. And compromises are made and thrown at Senators’ feet in order to get them to vote.
In Nelson’s case, the cost was one hundred million dollars.
The costs of expanding Nebraska’s Medicaid would be covered by the U.S. taxpayers.
(Sen. Orin Hatch, R-UT) To a lot of us we were very very upset about it. It was very poorly done, but it was the only way they could get it through was to bribe their Members.
The press called it the “Cornhusker Kickback”.
Nelson promised to vote for health care reform.
(Rush Limbaugh) Prostitution has been legalized in Washington, D.C.
Is this deal for Ben Nelson for ever and ever, amen? For ever and ever and ONLY for Nebraska.
I think it stinks, I think it’s sleazy.
This isn’t sleazy, this is gangster.
You gotta compliment Ben Nelson for playing The Price Is Right.
(Former White House counselor, David Gergen) It’s not a pretty process there is deal-making, that’s the way it’s been done for a long long time but those deals done in your front parlor can be pretty smelly. The public was all ready up to here with what they were seeing in Washington and I think it just put them over the side.
(Hatch) That was very sour stuff to most people in this country. They realized that this is not the way to legislate.
(Audio of Senate roll call vote) Mr Nelson: Aye!
The White House wasn’t paying attention, but up in Massachusetts that Cornhusker Kickback was still hanging in the air.
(MA Senate candidate Scott Brown) Business as usual is not the business we like, and all those back room deals for Nebraska and others it’s just wrong and we can do better!
Keep in mind folks, that this is PBS. Public television! This ain’t Fox News (where Nelson got a full half hour to argue his case). This is a documentary by the libs, gang.
If there was any question that Nelson would forever have the Cornhusker Kickback branded into his hide, this doc has settled the issue.
And then what’s even more hilarious is Nelson’s response to his hometown newspaper, the McCook Gazette.
The Public Broadcasting Service aired a one-sided program that buys into partisan talking points…Sure, we accept commercial networks pushing “entertainment” programming carrying slanted points of view. But PBS?
Yup Ben, that’s PBS. Practically an arm of FoxNews and the GOP combined.
To quote a local politco: “The harder Nelson tries to explain it away, the crazier he gets.”
And just to pile on (my, this topic has come up a lot lately), here is an article today from the Columbia Journalism Review. The title? Bad News for Ben Nelson? The Cornhusker Kickback still grates on Nebraskans.
“I see it as detrimental in getting him reelected,” Ed, a driver for UPS told me. “He singled out Nebraska and made people wonder what was going on under the table.” Thirty-one-year old Jeff Melichar, who was working at his family’s Phillips 66 station on P Street, put it this way: “We even had the governor of California knocking us.” Melichar, a Democrat, voted for Nelson, but he added: “This is not going to go away. Any Republican could stand on the corner and point Cornhusker Kickback and make him sound as shady as possible, and that’s it. I wish it wasn’t the case, but he damaged himself. The fact he voted ‘yes’ on the bill ended his political career in Nebraska.”