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* Homegirl: A fellow female gang member

Now that Joe Lieberman is on track to kill meaningful health care reform, it might behoove us to consider the folks who have enabled this Benedict Arnold – such as our own Claire McCaskill. Remember when McCaskill voted to retain Joe Lieberman as chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs? According to a member of her staff, she did so, in spite of his support of John McCain, because it was necessary to begin “moving past the election and working together because there are a lot of challenges.”  Right on Claire! Leiberman is responsible for a lot of unnecessary challenges.

But this is not all – McCaskill has continued to, as Sarah Palin would put it, pal around with Lieberman. Remember when McCaskill joined Lieberman in a bipartisan “gang” of six senators to look for a Republican-lite health care reform soluton? Or when she, together with Lieberman and a small group of obstructionist Democrats, fell all over themselves to  publicly praise Max Bauchus’ weak-tea bill?

When one examines Lieberman’s shifting positions – first he was for a Medicare buy-in, now he is against it – it is hard to believe that he is influenced by anything more substantial than spite and and a desire to earn the $448,066 in campaign contributions he has received from the insturance industry. (It is now being reported that insurance stocks are soaring on the strength of Lieberman’s flip-flop.) If this is what it means to be a “moderate,” perhaps McCaskill should reconsider her alliances and change her rhetoric accordingly; instead of pointing out how tough she will be if the Senate bill does not bring down costs, she could start emphasizing that so far, all proposals do just that. Of course, then she wouldn’t be mentioned as a kindred spirit in all the Lieberman reportage.

One assumes, or at least hopes, that McCaskill, unlike her buddy Lieberman, is not out-and-out corrupt, but rather wishes to mollify the purplish constituents that she consistently privileges. Here again, though, she should be careful. Polls are showing that willingness to equivocate and temporize in the face of progressive change may create an unwelcome blowback in upcoming elections. Nasty little pols like Lieberman are hurting the Democratic brand – and that can’t be too good for McCaskill in the long run.

Nov. 14, 4:48 pm: Slightly corrected – missing link added.