Over the summer, while the entire country was caught up in health-care-reform fever, discussing death panels and public options, Sen. Bill Nelson was busy talking about the great python menace and Chinese drywall.
Which would maybe make sense if he chaired the Senate Special Committee on Snakes and Drywall, but he sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which is responsible for drafting one of the key health-care bills.
Finally he spoke up, touting a co-op plan and calling public option supporters "clueless," and yesterday voted against an amendment that would have added a strong public option to the Finance Committee's bill. That failed, and then he turned around and supported another amendment that would have added a weaker public option (which made less sense, but whatever), but that still failed because there are actually Democrats more "moderate" than Nelson. And we have to wonder if he would have voted for it if it looked like it was going to pass.
Of course, Nelson comes off in a sweet political spot. He can tell Florida's voters -- who have somehow come to equate any form of government-run health insurance that isn't Medicare or Medicaid with Nazis -- that he voted against a public option and then turn around and tell the libs down here he supported a public option. Regardless of whether or not some sort of public option actually becomes law.
I have no problem with moderates who actually dig deep into their political hearts and souls and find nothing but, um, moderation. But Nelson has always seemed to be a bit more cautious and calculating. It's pretty fishy that he had spoke out against any public option and then decided to vote for it in a watered-down format.
As for the public option, it's a bit more moribund than the day before, but not dead just yet. It's still included in another Senate bill and three House bills, so during reconciliation of all of these proposals, it might still make it into law.