In less than two days time, the progressive action group MoveOn.org has raised more than $1 million for its campaign against Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).
The five-million-member group launched a fundraising drive on Tuesday after the Connecticut independent successfully killed key provisions from the Senate's health care reform legislation.
The goal was set, initially, for $400,000. By 1:22 p.m. on Thursday they were past the $1 million mark and climbing. The money will go to an ad campaign against Lieberman and into a fund to oppose his re-election in 2012.
The massive and quick response to the plea reflects just how much progressive frustration there is about the man who, eight years ago, was the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
Additionally, on Thursday, MoveOn.org put out a comic web ad using sock puppets to mock Lieberman as a spotlight-seeking political diva -- and his colleagues in the Democratic caucus as spineless enablers of his behavior.
The spot, which is not part of the broad multimedia ad campaign that the group will launch with its fundraising drive overhaul, has Lieberman at one point demanding that he be given four inches in height in exchange for his vote -- a request that was, naturally, granted.
Mockery of Lieberman may be one of the few sticks left to brandish in the health care reform debate. However. MoveOn's video seems more likely to make progressives feel better than to compel Democratic leadership to toughen up.
Lieberman Has Made Health Care Reform Unpopular
By giving in to Sen. Joseph Lieberman's (I-Conn.) demands on health care legislation, Senate Democratic leadership may have moved closer to blocking a Republican filibuster. But they've also made reform far less popular.
Lieberman's insistence that a government-run insurance option (as well as a provision to expand Medicare) be stripped from the bill has moved Democrats and the White House towards the wrong side of public opinion.
In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday, 45 percent of respondents said it was unacceptable to "no longer create a public health care plan administered by the federal government to compete directly with private health insurance companies". Only 42 percent said such a compromise was acceptable. Meanwhile, just 32 percent of people said the president's health care plan was now a "good idea" with 47 percent saying it was, in fact, a "bad idea" -- the highest percentage of detractors recorded.
"Most of the movement on the 'bad idea' comes from some of the president's core support groups, folks upset about lost public option," Chuck Todd, NBC political director and White House correspondent, tweeted.
The trickiest task facing Democrats going forward may be convincing the public that they should be required to purchase health insurance coverage but not have the option of getting it from the government. Months ago, the pro-reform group Health Care for America Now polled the individual mandate.
Sixty-four percent of national respondents said they opposed legislation "requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a private health insurance plan." Only 34 percent supported such a proposal. By contrast, 60 percent of respondents favored legislation "requiring everyone to buy and be covered by a health insurance plan with a choice between a public option and private insurance plans." Thirty-seven percent opposed such a plan.
The Senate, at the behest of one member, settled on the former and not the latter.
"The fact is what Lieberman has forced them to do is to take away one of the most popular provisions of the legislation, which is giving them the choice of the public option," said Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager at HCAN. "And our research has found that where a mandate is really unpopular without a public option it is quite popular with a public option."