As President Obama finished his speech to the Democratic caucus in the Capitol's Mansfield Room on Sunday afternoon, Joe Lieberman made his way over to Harry Reid.
The independent who still caucuses with Democrats wanted to point something out to the Majority Leader: Obama didn't mention the public option.
Lieberman was beaming as he left the room and happy to re-point it out when HuffPost asked him what Obama had said about the public health insurance option, perhaps the most contentious issue still facing Democrats as they negotiate their way toward a final health care reform bill.
Must... Resist ... Homicidal... Instinct ...
Obama's reluctance to stand up for the public option has been a source of contention between Reid, who is pushing for it, and Obama. Reid has asked five progressive senators and five conservatives to work out a compromise on the public option. The group will meet again Sunday afternoon, though without guidance from the president.
White House spokesman Bill Burton also mentioned insurance reform and affordability in his statement about the meeting, but neglected to mention the public option. "The president thanked members of the Senate for their hard work so far and encouraged them to continue forward on this historic opportunity to provide stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage for those who don't and bring down the cost of health care for families, small businesses and the government," he said.
Reid, as well as Tom Harkin -- a strong supporter of the public option -- are saying 'don't read too much into this'.
OK, I'll try not to do that. But I'm convinced that if the Senate passes healthcare reform legislation without it and Obama signs it, he won't be re-elected in 2012. Nobody else in the Congress who abandons their electoral base in such in-your-face fashion should reasonably expect to, either.
Especially if this were to follow his Afghanistan decision, liberals and progressives and independents of like mind simply will not vote for him again. Count on it.