Sen. Joe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster any health care bill with a public option could kill health reform this year — and embolden Democratic challengers who’d like to send him packing in 2012. But Lieberman doesn’t seem worried. “I don’t think about that stuff,” Lieberman told POLITICO this week. “I’m just — I’m being a legislator. After what I went through in 2006, there’s nothing much more that anybody [who] disagrees with me can try to do.”
Funny how when the “maverick” who doesn’t give a darn about political consequences is bollixing up their goals, Democrats get awfully fussy and talk about kicking the miscreant out of the party. Sen. John Thunes says the Republicans would love to have him. (Well, he’s more effective than most of their caucus in foiling harebrained lefty national-security larks and voicing some common sense on health care, so why wouldn’t they?)
But the part about the death of the public option acting to “kill health care reform this year” is poppycock. First, it’s not clear anything is going to pass this year. And more important, the death of the public option means they can pass something without the public option. Honestly. Democrats are all going to go home in a huff when they don’t get the public option, which was widely perceived as dying earlier in the fall? Maybe, but then it would be the Democrats — and not Lieberman — who are killing health-care reform in a fit of pique. But if they want to credit Lieberman, that’s fine too. It will only serve to cement his reputation as the most influential U.S. senator of his time.