Hit & Run

Joe Lieberman: Connecticut's Own John Wayne Gacy?

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The Washington Post's Ezra Klein says that by opposing the final health care bill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) "seems willing to directly cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score." As both Mark Hemingway and J.P. Freire of The Washington Examiner noticed, Klein edited his post, removing the word "directly"—that was, apparently, too much—but leaving his nuanced argument that Lieberman is a mass murderer. His Post colleague Charles Lane objects:

How else to explain the outrageous smear of Lieberman, posted earlier today by youthful policy wonk Ezra Klein on The Post's Web site? Apropos of Lieberman's opposition to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's proposed Medicare buy-in for uninsured people between the ages of 55 and 64, Klein had this to say: "At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score." (Emphasis mine.)

Let me repeat: Klein essentially accuses Lieberman of mass murder because he disagrees with him on a policy issue about which there is considerable debate among people of good will across the political spectrum.

This is disgusting, and pretty illogical, too. Klein brandishes a study by the Urban Institute showing that the lack of health insurance contributed to the deaths of 137,000 people between 2000 and 2006. But last time I checked, Joe Lieberman does not oppose insuring everyone. Indeed, he is on record favoring "legislation that expands access to the millions who do not have coverage, improves quality and lowers costs while not impeding our economic recovery or increasing the debt." He simply opposes the public option, as well as Harry Reid's last-minute improvisation on Medicare. Klein's outburst only makes sense if you assume that there is one conceivable way to expand health insurance coverage, and that Harry Reid has discovered it.

In unrelated news (and not deserving of its own post), The Nation's Washington correspondent Chris Hayes tweets an "uncomfortable," Tom Friedman-like thought suggesting that perhaps China should remain a dictatorship for the good of Mother Earth.