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It is clear that Peter Kinder thinks that there’s lots of political hay to be made by getting in on the lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act –  a belief that he shares with the AGs of several states, although it’s unlikely that such a suit has even the proverbial snowball-in-Hell’s chance of success. Sadly for Kinder, in his role as Lieutenant Governor he lacks the authority to file suit on Missouri’s behalf.  Happily for Missourians, responsible adults, to wit Governor Nixon and AG Chris Koster, have slapped Kinder down and refused to drag the state into this potentially very expensive morass. Indeed, Senator Claire McCaskill has gone so far as to describe some of his assertions as “embarrassingly wrong and irresponsible.”  

Although no state funds will be forthcoming, Kinder remains resolute – there are a few riled up Tea Partiers out there who need some TLC after all. Consequently, he has announced that he is collecting private donations in order to finance a suit out of his office. To this end, he has set up a Website, “Health Care in Action: Standing up against the infringement on state sovereignty and personal freedoms” – how’s that for a particularly tone-deaf non-sequitur?

Perhaps this new variation on Kinder’s crusade means that he was stung by criticisms like those of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which ridiculed the potential use of taxpayer dollars in an effort to deny Missourians the benefits of health care reform at a time when the state is engaged in budget cutting so dire that fiduciary bones are being scraped away. Or maybe he doesn’t really care whether he raises sufficient funds or not – he’s undoubtedly calculating that he’ll get lots of fringer street cred out of this little piece of theater no matter what.

Laugh though we may at Kinder’s grandstanding, we should not dismiss the harm he and others can do. The rightwing tactic of mounting legal challenges to the new law is potentially harmful to its successful implementation whether or not they have legal merit. As a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes:

Even though attempts to nullify provisions of federal health reform legislation have no legal effect, they should not be ignored. With enactment of the PPACA, substantial efforts are needed to meet tight deadlines for implementation. Legal challenges and campaigns to block the legislation will consume time and resources needed for implementation and may slow implementation until legal challenges are resolved. State provisions that purport to prohibit the individual mandate could be used as a shield by those who refuse to comply with the law. They also may weaken political support for health reform.

Conventional wisdom has it that Kinder is prepping for a run for Governor and that he sees this lawsuit business as a convenient tool to garner attention and establish his fringer bona fides. Still, he’ll need more than Tea Partiers to become governor – and if he allows himself to be identified with the political thugs seeking to work over our hard-won health care reform, more people than he thinks may be upset.

Update:  Here’s Kinder bloviating on the Greta von Susteren show last night (FiredUp! points out that here once again he continues to lie just like a lying liar):