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Joe Lieberman understands liberals too well

Here's Joe Lieberman's latest argument against the public option:

"This is a radical departure from the way we've responded to the market in America in the past," Lieberman said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press." "We rely first on competition in our market economy. When the competition fails, then what do we do? We regulate or we litigate. ... We have never before said, in a given business, we don't trust the companies in it, so we're going to have the government go into that business."

What does he think Social Security is? Or Medicare? Or public fire departments?

I'm starting to think that Lieberman knows perfectly well that his ever-shifting rationales don't make sense, and that he's inventing them to taunt liberals, not to explain his position. It's one thing to oppose the public option, after all. It's another to continually dangle misinformed rationales, implying that if liberals could just explain their argument clearly and logically enough, he'll change his mind. It's a deviously brilliant exploitation of liberal psychology. So devious, in fact, that it could only have come from a former liberal.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
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I'm not sold that Joe ever was a Liberal. Joe has always been about Joe and what serves his ego and needs.


Posted by: toshiaki | November 23, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

What toshiaki said: It's all about Joe.

Perhaps Joe should take over for Oprah. Then we can say, "It used to be all about the O. Now it's all about the Joe."

The better part of Joe Liberman ran down his mother's leg.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 23, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is right. If the Democrats removed the public option completely, then Lieberman would announce his conscience required him to filibuster the bill based on something else (the employer mandate perhaps). This is his revenge for the DFHs beating him in the primary in 2006. Reid and company are going to have to go to a trigger and get Snowe's vote to reach cloture.

Posted by: redwards95 | November 23, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

This is why liberals should focus more energy on calling out folks like Lieberman.

Posted by: slantedview | November 23, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

On top of it Senator Eeyore's persona plays very well as the too slow and stupid to get it. All the while, the malefactor is just manipulating everyone for who-knows-what reason.

Posted by: bcbulger | November 23, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

What Lieberman wants from the Obama administration is a promise that it won't pressure Netanyahu on justice for the Palestinians. That might get some cooperation.

It will be interesting to see whether he gets it.

And no, that's not an anti-Semitic suggestion. What would be anti-Semitic would be to pretend that ethnic identity politics had no effect on Washington and that's ahistoric.

Posted by: janinsanfran | November 23, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

the biggest problem the public option ever had was that at the beginning of the debate Drudge report and other right wing sites/bloggers/media showed Obama stating that a public option would eventually lead to single payer that the right absolutely hates and many moderates don't even like it right now. Now they (moderates)may in 15-20 years when healthcare is totally unaffordable but right now liberals and progressives need to realize that the numbers don't favor them for single payer.

The lack of privacy in those meetings (SEIU etc) killed the public option, IMO.

Posted by: visionbrkr | November 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Umm... the post office?

Posted by: redgrimes | November 23, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree with redwards. Lieberman's non-fact-based opposition means that even sending up a bill w/out a public option to get him to vote for cloture could be pointless and damaging. Even if Nancy pinky-swears not to put in a public option in committee I doubt it'd still get past his obduracy.

I think the Democrats need to write-off wooing Lieberman as any realistic strategy. I'd even be ok with some pork dropping at this point. Tell Olympia Snowe we'll build multi-million dollar windfarms off the coast of Maine or

Posted by: ThomasEN | November 23, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, re: Lieberman, there's always 2012 to look forward to.

Posted by: leoklein | November 23, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

He's holding out for cash on the barrelhead, as was given to Landrieu. She bragged about how much, and now every wavering liberal (and don't you mean "progressive"?) senator wants his share of the loot. There is no reason why her favors should be bought, and others should have to give it up for free.

Posted by: truck1 | November 23, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman wants to be Secretary of State, the deal he had with McCain. He will need a 2012 defeat of the Obama administration to achieve his goal. Thus, kill health care reform.

Posted by: glewiss | November 23, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

There was a book on the NYT nonfiction bestseller list (for 27 weeks) a few years ago by Princeton philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt (and cited by 168 academic publications) that described Joe Lieberman's rhetoric and relation to the truth but I can't discuss in it the Washington Post comments because this website is too puerile to allow me to discuss the concept because it's got a mildly naughty word in the title. Link below is Prof. Frankfurt discussing the concept on YouTube. NSFW if you work someplace filled with people with a stick in their bum like the Washington Post.

Posted by: jamusco | November 23, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman is Exhibit A for why the Democratic party needs a head-to-toe flush. (And yeah, yeah, he's an "independent" caucusing with us -- as far as Reid is concerned he's a Dem).

There has got to be something wrong when the party representing virtually all of America's major population centers must tailor its policies to a couple of idiosyncratic gloryhogs from Connecticut, Nebraska, and Montana. Do these particular 60 votes get us anything more than a more focused and driven 51?

Posted by: NS12345 | November 23, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Old Joe needs to feel a hot poker on his backside to bring him out of his dazed existence.
Poor Joe,all the money in his district and he is nothing but a clown or puppet on a string. Watch his jowls floar up and down and he lies and wishes to keep poor people distitue and sick. Joe has got to go!Shame on you Joe for being someone's

Posted by: thomascanada | November 23, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Dems have no one but themselves to blame. If they made a credible threat to strip Joe's chairmanship if he doesn't shut up and toe the line, this would be over in a heartbeat.

Posted by: bmull | November 23, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Let's see, Social Security going broke, Medicare going broke, fire departments perpetually underfunded. How about the quasi governmental postal service? Broke. VA Hospitals corrupt and underfunded. Yes let's make the U.S. healthcare system just like those programs.

Posted by: RobT1 | November 24, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse


He's pretty sure he won't get reelected and he's setting himself up as an insurance industry lobbyist. That's why I think he is quite joyfully going to kill the entire bill no matter what.

Posted by: pj_camp | November 24, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I am beginning to wonder if Lieberman has another agenda completely separate from health care - if none of his arguments make sense and he really should know better, then what is his purpose? Bringing down the Dems? Some foreign policy objective?

Posted by: loki251 | November 26, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

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