It pains me to admit this, but I'll just admit it: Joe Lieberman is the single most powerful Senate force since Lyndon Johnson's Master of the Senate days. And his power teaches an important lesson to us all.
Here is a guy who campaigned for the Republican nominee for president in 2006 - a guy who says he's likely to campaign for 2012 reelection as a Republican. And here is a senator who is singlehandedly bending a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress to his Palpatinian will.
Just step back and look at what's going on. Here's the New York Times from yesterday:
Lieberman Gets Ex-Party to Shift on Health Plan
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
The senator is infuriating Democrats, but they may bow to his demands by dropping a Medicare expansion and the public option.
Here's TPM from yesterday:
Brown: Public Option Or No, I'm Voting For This Health Care Bill
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says he's in for health care reform, even though his key initiative--the public option--and all of its alternatives, have been swept into the dust bin.
Lieberman is so powerful, he got the President of the United States who won a bigger mandate than Ronald Reagan to instruct Democratic senators to do whatever Lieberman wanted. He's compelled progressives from the most politically important states in the country to capitulate. He has completely and totally humiliated the Senate Democratic leadership, President Obama, the progressive movement and, really, the majority of the American public that supports the policies he's thwarting.
He is an amazing force - truly. A disgusting force, for sure. Maybe, in fact, he's a Sith. But whatever he is, he's an amazing force. It makes you imagine what American politics might look like if there was a progressive Joe Lieberman doing the same thing for the progressive cause. Of course, that's what the 2008 election was supposed to be about.
So here's the big lesson: The next time you hear any politician in the Senate or in the presidency - Republican or Democrat - insist they cannot do certain things, just say one thing to them: Lyndon Baines Lieberman (R-CT). He is definitively proving all of those claims false.