Joe Lieberman has flipflopped on the public option, and is now stripping it from the healthcare bill. EJ Dionne of the Washington Post:
I find Lieberman’s behavior in this affair unconscionable, and I share [Ezra] Klein’s anger with him, which produced his dust-up with Chuck Lane on this blog. Klein is right that there is not a shred of principle in Lieberman’s opposition to the proposal to allow people 55 and over to buy into Medicare. Again: Lieberman supported the idea just three months ago.
Yes and why has Lieberman flipflopped? NPR tonight notioned the Connecticut insurance industry as an answer. But I naturally wondered if Lieberman doesn’t have an Israel agenda. Robert Parry argues that he does, Israel is all Lieberman has ever cared about, now he is trying to break Obama in:
If Lieberman succeeds in sinking Obama’s chief domestic priority – health care reform – or waters it down so much that it alienates Obama from his liberal base, Obama may find himself essentially the captive of the neocons, needing their blessing to maintain any political viability in Washington.
Lieberman has been careful not to connect his disruptive behavior on health-care reform to his support for Israel, but there can be little doubt that a chastened Obama, either defeated on health care or forced to sign a bill that liberals will view as a betrayal, will have much less political capital to expend in applying pressure on Israel.
A hobbled Obama won’t be able to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt expansion of West Bank settlements or to take other steps that might lead to a Palestinian state. Obama also could be pushed around himself if Israel – itself an undeclared nuclear power – decides to launch airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
I wonder if Joe’s game isn’t more subtle, building political capital on the right among Republicans, capital he can call in as the tides of delegitimation lap against the door. The American interest has sometimes found a home on the right: note that a South Carolina Republican congressman is circulating a letter to let Gazan students travel.