Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, and Ben Nelson seem likely to decide the fate of a heath-care reform bill with an opt-out public option. Â If all three vote for cloture – even if they then vote against final passage – the bill becomes law. Â Else, not.
So what will they do? Â After extracting the maximum amount of “centrist” mileage and media attention by pretending to be undecided, they will all vote “Yes. ” Â Partly that’s because joining with the Republicans to prevent a straight up-or-down vote on the key priority of a popular Democratic President is just too risky a move.
But it’s also the case that a defeat on health care would probably cost Harry Reid his seat, leaving Chuck Schumer as Majority Leader. Â And that reminds me of the story of the Quaker and the cow:
A Quaker dairy farmer owned an obstreperous cow, who took advantage of the man’s good nature and pacific principles to act up in variety of ways. Â Finally, one cold morning, she kicked over the milk pail, spilling all the milk.
The Quaker, keeping his voice low and reasonable, said to the cow, “Friend Bossy, thee knows that I may not strike thee. Â But I can sell thee to that ornery Baptist down the road.”
Footnote Yes, “Thee knows … ” isn’t good Early Modern English; it should be “Thou knowest.”Â But the “simple speech” of the Friends seems to have simplified away both the distinctions among the cases and the second-person-singular inflections of the verbs.
The use of “thee” wasn’t just an archaism.Â George Fox had a point to make.Â “You” was originally the second-person plural form, but became the form showing deference.Â Fox and his followers claimed, somewhat fancifully, that it was not consistent with rigorous truth-telling to address a single person using a plural form, but the impulse was an egalitarian one.Â It meant addressing a judge the same way one would address a beggar.