The Old Mutt And Jeff Game
In all the handwringing over the latest 'principled stand' that threatens to defenestrate a noble yet doomed cause (doomed given the current balance of true power in those United States), it might be instructive to view the situation through a law enforcement metaphor.
Here's the frame - Obama is the good cop. Lieberman is the bad cop. And health care reform is the suspect.
Obama (and ostensibly his administration, albeit who can predict the byzantine machinations among the players) wants to be perceived as approachable and amenable to reasoned debate and compromise for the 'greater good'.
In reality, their game is to string this along to the beginning of a potential second term where electoral consequences are no longer a concern and some form of 'real change' (a most bitter pill indeed for the rulers of America) might occur in spite of the best laid roadblocks.
Whether 'kicking the can down the road, then running to catch up with it' is a sound strategy or not is debatable, of course.
Lieberman (Obama's Senate mentor) knows, in spite of his post-Democratic realignment with the American Right and his guaranteed sinecure from 'interested parties' within this issue post-service, that his time (and thus his power) in government is fleeting.
Therefore, he can playact the heavy role with impunity and draw heat away from Obama, buying both deniability and time for an preelectoral optics massage while getting some personal jollies from booting his nemeses in the teeth.
Health Care Reform is the Willie Horton in the room...Those whose livelihoods depend on the status quo will demonize it, and those who seek change via tilting at corporations for uncompromised legislation that minimizes the profit motive will hold it up as an unfairly maligned political football. Meanwhile, it rots away in limbo while the signifying sound and fury rages.
The current 'for profit' model of health care in America is not sustainable. Eventually, the greater portion of insurance and medication monies spent by people and families barely treading water economically will dry up (food and shelter concerns being more pressing), so many businesses that make money by this scheme must seek to maximize short-term profit now before the crunch occurs.
Just the facts, ma'am.