LIEBERMAN EYEING DEM REUNION?…. Remember 2008, when Joe Lieberman had effectively burned down the bridge to the Democratic Party? Well, apparently that’s all in the past.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is not ruling out running as a Democratic candidate in his reelection race in 2012.

Lieberman said on Thursday that he has been asked by friends about the possibility of returning to the party that nominated him for vice president in 2000.

With his reelection race not imminent, however, Lieberman said the only probability for now is that he will seek a fifth term.

“It’s a ways away,” Lieberman told The Hill. “I’ve been asked, ‘Are you running?’ and I’ve said, ‘You have to always assume that anybody in office is running until and unless they not only announce but they actually leave the office to run for reelection.’

“I’m an independent Democrat, and that gives me options,” he added.

I don’t doubt that Lieberman has “options.” I strongly doubt, however, that running for re-election as a Democrat should be one of those options.

Sure, Lieberman has taken some steps in the Dems’ direction of late. He helped nail down some Republican votes for the stimulus package. He endorsed Chris Dodd’s re-election campaign. He’s said some nice things about the president.

But aren’t we way past the point at which Lieberman could even hope to run in a Democratic primary? There was a poll not too long ago testing Lieberman against state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), and Blumenthal crushed the incumbent, not only among Connecticut Democrats, but also statewide.

Perhaps, given this, Lieberman would want to re-enter the Democratic fold, but what possible incentive would the party have to welcome him back when there’s a more viable alternative?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.