Lieberman's Game

by Patrick Appel

The Democrats caving to Lieberman makes this analysis from a reader all the more persuasive:

For all the talk about Lieberman's position on the health care bill, it seems that much of the analysis has ignored the fact that this might be electorally smart for Lieberman. Sure, in 2009, his derailing of health care seems like a poor choice, but by 2012, it could look pretty smart. It's likely that health care reform will pass in one form or another because it's too important to Democrats for it to not pass in some form. When that happens he can vote for it, claiming to have supported it the whole time, and at the same time, portray himself as a deficit hawk. That's the key here.
By 2012 we should be out of the woods on the Great Recession and it will be a time when watching the budget and reducing the deficit will be critical. He will then use his attacks on the health care reform proposals as evidence of his deficit hawkishness. He was so concerned that he was willing to risk something as important as health care reform because of his deeply held convictions about deficit spending. That position will do him very well by Republicans and will probably sway at least a few moderate Democrats who, in 2012, will be much more concerned about ballooning deficits than health care reform.

Furthermore, as he's launching these attacks, he's securing his place in the hearts of the private health insurance industry. He's going to need a bank roll for the 2012 election to replace what he'd get from Democratic party donors, the DNCC and the DSCC. He could count of some of their help in 2006 as he went through the primary, but now he's totally on his own. So in one move he secures funding for a reelection campaign and positions himself to sound strong on what's likely to be key issue of 2012.

He drives me up a wall, but I have to say, it's probably a pretty smart move for him. Worst case scenario he's probably secured himself a lucrative lobbying gig if he loses reelection.