In a teaser Tuesday for her upcoming interview with former Vice President Al Gore, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow revealed that she had asked Gore about his 2000 running-mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been threatening to break with the Democratic caucus and filibuster any health care reform bill which includes a public option,
"Do you have any continuing relationship with him?" Maddow wanted to know. "Do you regret the sort of turbo-boost you gave to his career ... given how he has changed in his politics?"
"We're still friends," Gore replied, "and he was right and forceful on many of the issues that I felt were central, including global warming."
"I disagree with him on a lot of the issues that have become more prominent since then," Gore went on, "but I would urge people to wait until the denouement of this health care debate to see where it falls out. Because I do believe that Harry Reid is going to be successful in passing it fairly soon."
Despite Gore's optimism, Sen. Reid has not yet brought a final Senate version of health care reform to the floor, and ABC news reported on Tuesday that senior Congressional Democrats say "it is highly unlikely that a health care reform bill will be completed this year."
Reid himself told ABC, "We are not going to be bound by any timetables. ... We are going to do this as quickly as we can."
A Wednesday article (sub. req.) at Roll Call, titled "Lieberman Holds the Power," suggests that Lieberman "is unlikely to face retribution" over his filibuster threat because Reid "needs his vote" on other issues.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) told Roll Call that he recently spoke to Reid “about Sen. Lieberman’s role in all of this. Part of it was respect for [Lieberman’s] views. And the fact that he’s willing to vote to bring to the floor for debate and amendment legislation that he does not fully agree with, I think, is very constructive.”
Carper stated that although Lieberman is unwilling to support any form of public option, even one with an opt-out for states or a trigger, he might accept "a plan that could be adopted in ... many of the states in a way that is not government-controlled."
This appears to be a reference to health care cooperatives, an alternative that was proposed last summer by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) as "a public-interest alternative, but consumer-controlled and not government-run." Critics of Conrad's proposal pointed out that small, local cooperatives would be unlikely to have sufficient bargaining power to contain costs or provide a viable option to private health insurance, and his idea failed to gain traction.
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Nov. 3, 2009.