WEINER SCARED LIEBERMAN AWAY?…. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) spoke with reporters this morning about the state of the health care debate. Lieberman said that if the leadership meets his conditions — no public option, no Medicare buy-in — “I’m going to be in a position where I can say what I’ve wanted to say all along: that I’m ready to vote for health care reform.”

Collins, meanwhile, said she intends to keep pushing her amendments, but she’s still opposed to the bill — even after Lieberman’s “improvements” (her word, not mine) — and will likely vote against reform even if her amendments pass.

I suppose that means the 60th vote will have to come from either Ben Nelson or Olympia Snowe.

But there’s something else Lieberman said this morning that stood out for me. In an interview with the New York Times, he conceded that he’d supported a Medicare buy-in previously, but talked about the evolution of his thinking on the subject.

[I]n the interview, Mr. Lieberman said that he grew apprehensive when a formal proposal began to take shape. He said he worried that the program would lead to financial trouble and contribute to the instability of the existing Medicare program.

And he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system.

“Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it’s the beginning of a road to single-payer,” Mr. Lieberman said. “Jacob Hacker, who’s a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, ‘This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.’”

This is exactly what I was afraid of.

Occasionally, there’s something to be said for keeping one’s cards a little closer to the vest.

Update: It’s also worth noting that the quotes Lieberman attributes to Jacob Hacker are completely wrong. Hacker’s only public comments on the policy were on PBS and in a piece for The New Republic. The Yale political scientist simply never said what Lieberman attributes to him.

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.