November 2, 2009

Rachel Maddow talks to former Lieberman political rival Ned Lamont about what is driving Sen. Lieberman to obstruct health reform and threaten to filibuster his own caucus. As Ned notes, it was Republican money that got him elected and he's showing that political allegiance now. I think he doesn't care what party it is as long as his pockets are being lined.

Maddow: I have a feeling you're going to say "I told you so" but I have to ask. Does it surprise you that Sen. Lieberman would join Republicans to filibuster health reform?

Lamont: It surprises me in this sense, that everybody thought that our race three years ago was just about the war in Iraq, whether it was a good idea to invade or not, but we spent an awful lot of time talking about health care reform and during that race I accused Sen. Lieberman of dithering and after twenty years in the Senate not doing anything on fundamental health care reform, and he was the one that came back and said unilaterally "I support universal health insurance for all Americans and I'm going to fight for it". So I'm surprised that a few years later he is dithering again.

Maddow: I know...I went back and looked at some of the contemporaneous coverage from your race and I know back in September of 2006, during that fight Sen. Lieberman told reporters on a conference call “I have long supported the goal of universal health care. Ned Lamont can talk about it. I’ve been doing something about it all the time I’ve been here.” If he does end up being the one guy who stops it, if it is his filibuster, what do you think the political costs will be of that?

Lamont: Look the people of Connecticut are ready to have a vote. They want to have a vote on fundamental health care reform and they want the choice of a public option. Sen. Chris Dodd and all of our Congressionals are on board with that and it’s Sen. Lieberman who’s the outlier, so I think there will be political consequences if a Sen. Lieberman is the one person who stands in the way, who obstructs our opportunity to have a fundamental vote on health care reform.

Maddow: What do you think those consequences will be though? One of the things that we have to think about is what happens in Washington, whether or not the Democrats and the Senate allow him to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee—there’s also the question of whether he faces political consequences at home. He seems to be planning to run again.

Lamont: I believe—I probably wouldn’t know—I’d be the last person in Connecticut to know whether he’s going to run again but I can tell you this; there’s an awful lot of folks here who are looking forward to the opportunity of challenging Sen. Lieberman. You know during our race a few years ago he said nobody wants to have a Democrat elected president as much as I do. He supported health care reform. Nobody wanted to get the troops home more than he did. Three years is a long time. I think there are a number of folks, independent, moderates, Republicans and Democrats who are disappointed where the words aren’t matching the action and are looking for a change.

Maddow: Why do you think he doesn’t just become a Republican?

Lamont: I think he’s been a Democrat for an awful long time, but I think tactically he’s probably looking at his options right now. I’ve got to believe when you walk away from health care reform, when you deny your fellow Senators the right to vote on health care reform, that seems to be somebody that knows he was elected in 2006 with overwhelming Republican support. I think that’s his base.

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