From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
For all those trying to understand what Lieberman's talk of filibuster ACTUALLY means, we turned to our Senate wise-man Ken Strickland, who explained it in football terms, essentially this way:
Right now Lieberman's with Reid. Reid needs a first down. And Lieberman's with Reid for that first down. Reid doesn't have enough votes quite yet for that first down, but Lieberman's with him -- for now.
And that first down is getting the bill to the floor, i.e., getting 60 senators to vote for cloture, in other words, 60 senators who would allow the bill to get to the floor.
Lieberman would not vote for the final version of the bill if it contains a public option, but he is ok with allowing debate and amendments to be added.
Point is, Reid needs first downs before he can get to the red zone or even the end zone. And right now, he doesn't even have the votes for that first down. So let's not get too far ahead of ourselves and try to predict what will happen in the red zone -- if Democrats carry the ball that far.
*** UPDATE *** For those wondering about the TPM analysis. It's correct, and we linked to it in an earlier post. As we were trying to explain, there are TWO procedural hurdles: (1) On the front end to allow it to get to the floor for debate, and then (2) On the backend, AFTER debate and before a vote.
Lieberman would not filibuster on the front end, but he would on the back end. The front end is the more important one.