Ben Nelson doesn’t care for criticism

BEN NELSON DOESN’T CARE FOR CRITICISM…. A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska and a handful of centrist and center-right allies insisted that the Senate not vote on health care reform before the chamber’s August recess. Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) took out an ad in Nebraska criticizing Nelson’s move.

Yesterday, the senator’s office suggested the criticism might lead Nelson to help kill health care reform altogether.

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) lashed out Friday at the ads being run against his position on health care reform in his home state, saying they would backfire — and might even derail the entire reform process.

In a statement issued late in the afternoon by Nelson’s office, spokesman Jake Thompson warned that if the new series of ads calling out the Senator’s “stalling” on reform were “an indication of the politics going into August, then health care reform may be dead by the end of August.”

“Nebraskans don’t need outside special interest groups telling them what to think. Senator Nelson has nothing but praise for Nebraska groups working toward health care reform. Unfortunately, he says, these outside groups undermine the sincere and dedicated efforts of people in our state,” Thompson wrote. “Recently, similar ads have run in Nebraska. Those ads by other special interests prompted hundreds of Nebraskans to call our offices, with 9 to 1 urging Senator Nelson to do exactly the opposite of what the special interest group wanted. In short, the ads backfired.”

Now, it’s true that DFA and the PCCC are not Nebraska organizations, but it’s worth remembering that the groups’ ad features a small businessman, who owns a shop in Ralston, Neb., who supports reform and opposes the delays Nelson has demanded. The ad is not “outside special interest groups telling them what to think”; it’s one voice — that of a Nebraska shop owner — urging his senator to do the right thing.

Nelson is up for re-election next year, and it’s not surprising that he’d like to avoid any and all criticism. But threatening to kill health care reform because a couple of groups are running a television ad he doesn’t like seems rather petty.

People are allowed to express their political opinions, even if they’re critical of Ben Nelson. The ad doesn’t make any false claims; it doesn’t include any personal attacks; and the criticism itself is a little out of date since we already know the pre-recess deadline won’t be met. For that matter, it’s my understanding that it wasn’t an especially large ad buy anyway.

So, with so much on the line, and the health and hopes of millions in the balance, perhaps Nelson can drop the threats?