Hi, I'm Joe Lieberman. Now, May I Punk You?
It doesn't get much better than this. Really.
During the 2008 elections, Joe Lieberman attended the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. and
pulled a Zell Miller, delivering a rousing speech - for Lieberman, that is - supporting supporting John McCain over Barack Obama for president.
Back in the old days, such an act of party disloyalty would have been automatic justification for banishment to political Siberia. But after their election victory in November, the Democratic leadership held its collective nose and cut a pragmatic deal: Lieberman, now a self-styled "independent minded Democrat" got to keep his chairmanship in the caucus, his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and his seniority - thanks in no small part to support from then President-elect Obama. In return, the Democrats wanted Lieberman to remain loyal in case they ever needed to derail a Republican filibuster.
Now we know how that worked out. On Tuesday, the Connecticut Senator became the first Democrat to warn that he would not support cloture if any health care reform legislation includes a public option. (One day earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would do just that.)
"I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free. It's not," Lieberman said. "It's going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn't, it's going to add terribly to our national debt."
So on the eve of arguably, the biggest public policy decision of his young administration, the president now might wonder why he didn't listen to fellow liberals last fall. Instead, he stuck his neck out for Lieberman and got punked in return.
(After I posted the blog entry, Lieberman's office sent me the following statement attributed to the Senator:)
"I am strongly inclined to vote for cloture to bring the health insurance bill up because we need to have a debate. I want to vote for health insurance reform this year because we need it, but I will not vote for health care reform if it jeopardizes the recovery from the economic recession or adds to the national debt. And because I'm convinced that creating a government run health insurance company will add to the national debt, increase taxes, and probably increase health insurance premiums, I can't vote at the end for a bill that has such a government run insurance company in it."
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