Maybe Lieberman’s been talking to Frist

MAYBE LIEBERMAN’S BEEN TALKING TO FRIST…. Over the weekend, Joe Lieberman was asked whether he believes Sarah Palin is ready to be president. “Thank God, she’s not going to have to be president from Day One,” Lieberman said. “McCain’s going to be alive and well.”

The problem, of course, is that Lieberman doesn’t know that. McCain, who’s battled recurring melanoma, would be the oldest president ever elected. Obviously, we can hope for McCain’s good health, but with Palin in the wings, it’s not unreasonable for voters to be uncomfortable.

Lieberman took this one step further on Sunday, telling voters in Tampa he’s sought professional guidance on the issue.

“People say to me, oh jeez, he’s 72 and he’s got skin cancer,” Lieberman said, adding: “I can tell you he’s been in remission for eight years. Secondly, I talked — because I get asked this question so much — I talked to doctors and insurance actuaries. And they tell me based on McCain’s age, his health, including skin cancer, he’ll live till at least 85. And probably longer.”

Lieberman once again offered a prayer that Palin would not soon have to serve as commander in chief: “I believe that he’ll be able to serve through his first term for which he’s elected, please God.”

As a rule, when a campaign surrogate is relying on doctors and actuaries to reassure voters about a candidate, it’s not a good sign.

But I’m also curious which “doctors” Lieberman has been consulting on this, and just how many are confident about the “at least 85” prediction. Were any of Lieberman’s doctors familiar with McCain’s personal medical history? Or did Lieberman call up Bill Frist, who made a judicious diagnosis based on some footage he saw of McCain on television?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.