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The lethal cynicism of Joe Lieberman

I started to write a longer post about Sen. Joe Lieberman's move today to kill the more progressive parts of the healthcare bill today...but frankly I couldn't stomach devoting that much of my limited time on earth to him at this point. Let me just say this: I've been paying attention to politics on some level since I was nine years old and watched the cops beating up the hippies at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and over the course of 41 years I have never seen a move so cynical and so spiteful, at the expense of the health and well-being of millions of Americans, as Lieberman's backflips to kill any provision that is supported by liberals, even if it's something that he himself supported just three months ago.

Nine years ago, when he ran for vice president, Lieberman said that allowing people over 55 to buy into Medicare -- the very idea he killed today -- was the core of his ideas for health care, and he repeated that as recently as September 2009:

By allowing citizens who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid to buy in for a rate below the private market, the government can extend coverage to more of those who are currently uninsured, he said.

To arrive at his position, Lieberman said he reached out to "every conceivable group" in the state, including residents, providers, doctors and hospitals.

Now, it's clear that Lieberman doesn't want a bill, period, and his reasons keep shifting because his real reason is to stick it to the liberals who defeated him in a 2006 Democratic Senate primary (he then ran as an independent and won). Lieberman said he's worried about the cost of the Medicare buy-in but then he decided not to wait for the cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Newsweek's Howard Fineman, who tried to get an explanation of the flip-flop from Lieberman's staff, came away with this:

The other half is it's personal with Joe, not with Obama, 'cause don't forget that Obama, the President, supported Lieberman in the fight in the party in Connecticut. It's the grassroots left of the Democratic Party ...He wants Moulitsas, he wants Firedoglake, he wants all those people who rode around on the bus of the challenger, who defeated him in the Democratic primary.

Hey, we're all human, we've all said or done things out of spite -- but for most of us nobody died when that happened. With millions fewer Americans carrying health insurance because of Joe Lieberman's treachery, people who would have been healthy will get sick, people who who would have been protected will file for bankruptcy, and people who would be alive will die. Pure and simple. And that unnecessary blood will be on the hands of Joe Lieberman, who's now offered no constructive platform for improving medicine in the country beyond the politics of petty spite and personal treachery. At least when thousands of people died needlessly in Iraq, there were plenty of others to share the blame.

But this one's all on you, Joe. And America will never, ever forget.