Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 22, 2009

REFRESHING LIEBERMAN'S MEMORY.... When it comes to the larger health care reform debate, the public option is a pretty new idea. As recently as the 2004 campaign, the leading Democratic candidates (Dean, Kerry, Edwards, Clark) all had health plans, but none of them proposed a government insurance option to compete alongside private insurers.

And while it's a welcome addition to the debate, it's not that new. Joe Lieberman said this week, "It's classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can't find a mention of public option. It was added after the election."

I can understand why Lieberman made the argument -- he may want to deny the notion of a mandate. If President Obama easily won a presidential election, but didn't promise a public option, it's more plausible to argue that lawmakers shouldn't endorse after-the-fact add-ons.

Which is why it's all the more important to note that Lieberman doesn't know what he's talking about. The Obama plan always featured a public option, since the day he unveiled his proposal in May 2007. In fairness, the measure didn't generate a lot of attention -- Republicans were too wrapped up in talking about preachers and flag pins -- but it was there the whole time.

Brian Beutler followed up with Lieberman on the Hill yesterday, and the Connecticut senator repeated the claim that was debunked days ago.

"This is a kind of 11th hour addition to a debate that's gone on for decades," Lieberman told reporters tonight. "Nobody's ever talked about a public option before. Not even in the presidential campaign last year."

I asked in response, "How do you reconcile your contention that the public option wasn't part of the presidential campaign given that all three of the [leading Democratic] candidates had something along the lines of the public option in their white papers?'

"Not really, not from what I've seen. There was a little -- there was a line about the possibility of it in an Obama health care policy paper," Lieberman said.

When reminded that Obama embraced the idea, as well as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, during the campaign, Lieberman replied, "...Clinton, Obama, McCain -- I don't see it. Anyway, I'm opposed to it."

He's quite a senator, isn't he?

Steve Benen 11:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Comments

i've said it before and i'll say it again: various senators have their specialties.

lindsay graham, for example, specializes being smarmy; orrin hatch specializes in self-righteous hypocrisy.

joe lieberman specializes in being the senator you most want to punch in the nose.

Posted by: howard on November 22, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

He's like that girl Norah O'Donnell interviewed last week about Palin's support of the bailout: "where'd ya hear that?" Oy. They don't know it, it's not true--period.

Posted by: Kristin on November 22, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Tough to keep up with what the Democratic candidates are proposing when you are working for the Republican candidate 24/7.

Posted by: Th on November 22, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Connecticut.

Posted by: jcricket on November 22, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Lieberman's raison d'etre is to antagonize the Democratic base that rejected him in '04 and again in '06. He will continue to say and do whatever he wants until there are consequences.

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on November 22, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Who will rid me of this turbulent twit?!

Posted by: Henry II on November 22, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

What is it about people who join the Washington 100 person rich man's protective club (the Senate) that either turns them into narcissists or attracts them?

Lieberman's grandiosity is a dead giveaway of the character of most Senators.

Narcissists are useless as people. All they do is protect their own egos.

Posted by: Rick B on November 22, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of like 500 years ago trying to convunce people that the world is round when they know for a fact that it's flat.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 22, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

1000 Conneticut residents should copy the public option language from the Obama campaign health care reform proposal, email to Lieberman's office and ask "what the Hell are you talking about you little nitwit?" Then post here the form letter response and we can all have a good laugh.

Posted by: robert on November 22, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Obama ever said the phrase "Public Option". You know, like George Bush never said there was an "Imminent Threat" from Iraq.

A rose by any other name would be a tuna, I guess.

Posted by: martin on November 22, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I despise this odious little fucker.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on November 22, 2009 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this idiot love to support Israel with their healthcare, but Americans -not so much.

Posted by: JS on November 22, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

If we're going to heal the American body politic, we'll need a Liebermanectomy, stat!

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on November 22, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is an asshole. The ones I am angry with is the democrats who stood behind him when he was a proven asshole who lost his party's primary and made excuses for him and the Senators who do the same now.

And his biggest crime isn't even being an asshole on policy. His biggest crime is kissing up to the right wing assholes who happen to be pro-Israel at the moment who believe jews are doomed and the Messiah is soon going to destroy every last one who doesn't convert. There is no bigger asshole than one who kisses up to people who expect you to be exterminated by God because it fits his senator from Israel for the American neo con party. Pure asshole. But again, the ones who need to be made to answer for their sins aren't the known asshole, they are the ones who protected and shielded him and are ven worse than he is but still in power helping fuck us all.

Posted by: razor on November 22, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Liberman: "President Obama didn't make empty promises about the public option while he campgained like I would have"

Posted by: neal peart on November 22, 2009 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, while not literally true, Lieberman actually does have a point that in the grand scheme of things the public option more or less came out of nowhere. Of course what he fails to mention is that single payer has been talked about for years and years. That was of course rejected before the debate even began though, which was another example of Democratic tactical genius.

Posted by: Kid Charles on November 23, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

We read a lot, and quite rightly so, obviously, that McCain's choice of Palin as a running mate said a lot about his judgment. There were a lot of us who felt the same in 2000 about Gore's choice of sanctimonious Joe. When looking at the razor thin margin of Gore's loss, that factor shouldn't be overlooked.

Posted by: not to pull off a scab, but... on November 23, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

What loss? Gore won Florida. It was stolen.

Posted by: OwnedByTwoCats on November 23, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK
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