I think this is becoming a continuing item...
Liberals are up in arms because the public option lost in committee. They're ready to dump Harry Reid if he doesn't deliver what they want; they're raising money to attack Baucus.
Why? Well, I can understand being upset about the committee vote, and being frustrated that even after two good election cycles Democrats still don't have the votes for major health care reform with a strong public option. Attacking Reid and Baucus (both of whom support a public option, but are more committed to passing a bill), however, is mostly just shooting the messenger...and attacking marginal Dems from swing states such as Lincoln or Ben Nelson is counterproductive, since most plausible replacements for those Senators would be to the right, and probably severely to the right, of those Democrats. Indeed, that's the case for Reid and Baucus as well, especially since they are both well within the mainstream of the party in the Senate. So, what's going on?
First, and repeating what I said in the last post, I think we have some Vietnam Syndrome Liberals: progressives who have become so obsessed with toughness and "guts" that they have come to act as if the entire point of politics is to Stand Tall and Not Compromise, rather than actually winning.
Second, I think liberals haven't quite accepted that their preferred bill, single-payer, was a non-starter this year because it got buried in the presidential primaries last year. For example, Nick Beaudrot has an otherwise very sensible post about the Carper propoal which he inexplicably titles "The Carper Compromise of a Compromise of a Compromise." That only makes sense if one considers a strong public option a compromise -- presumably, between a single-payer bill and a plan like the Baucus version of the bill. But single-payer wasn't bargained away; it lost, long before November 2008.
Now, as it happens, liberals are winning. While the wheels could still fall off, it looks to me as if Congress will enact and the president will sign major, historic health care reform. The new law almost certainly won't have a strong public option -- but it will have some compromise, whether it's the Carper federalist plan, the Snowe trigger, the Schumer weak public option, or the Conrad co-ops. And there's still a lot of fight remaining over which of these will be adopted, and how exactly the winning option will be defined; as I read the analyses (like this one), there's far too much variation in the possible details for anyone yet to know how much "weaker" the compromise will be than a strong public option. The key point, however, is that any version that's on the table would be a terrific victory for the long-term liberal agenda.
Granted, liberals would be happier if they had the votes for something else. The way to do that, however, is to try to win in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Ohio in 2010 -- not to dump seats in Nevada and Arkansas.