LIEBERMAN TRIES TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF ON REFORM…. I guess this means Joe Lieberman likes the “trigger” idea. (thanks to reader G.S. for the tip)

The Democratic-turned-independent senator said he knows his opposition to the government-run option will probably foil the Democrats’ efforts to pass the bill.

“There will be no shot at 60 votes, because I’m not the only one,” he said.

But he added: “If we start this out and three years from now a case can be made that the private market is not working effectively, I would support the public option.”

How gracious of him. Here’s the follow-up question: why would he support the public option in 2012 but not in 2009? As Lieberman sees it, a public option would be a sensible policy response to a private market that “is not working effectively.”

Well, guess what. We have a private market and it’s not working effectively. It’s why a whole lot of us support a public option. Lieberman wants to wait and see if private insurers come up short? If he already believes a public option would improve the system, how much more evidence does he need?

What’s more, Lieberman’s talk of “60 votes” suggests he’s not only opposed to a plan with a public option, but also that he’ll support a Republican filibuster — preventing the Senate from even voting on the legislation.

Lieberman added that lawmakers can “achieve significant reform with bipartisan support,” just as soon as the public option is “off the table.”

I don’t know if Lieberman was paying attention in August, but we already know this isn’t true. White House officials, including the president and the HHS secretary, signaled a willingness a couple of weeks ago to scuttle the public option. How many Republican lawmakers said, “Well, in that case, we’re ready to move forward on a bipartisan deal”? None. Literally, not one. On the contrary, Republicans shot down the trial balloon by insisting no concessions would be enough — the GOP would oppose reform no matter what.

So what is Lieberman talking about?

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.