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Does this shirt make my ego look big?

This morning, the Politico made news by reporting that someone at the White House had ordered Harry Reid to cut a deal with Joe Lieberman on health care.

The White House denied the report.

“The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction,” spokesman Dan Pfeiffer says. “We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”

But since, then, two more reoprters have confirmed Politico’s account: TNR’s Jonathan Cohn and HuffPo’s Ryan Grim. In fact both Cohn and Grim pass on the ID of this anonymous White House figure: Rahm Emanuel. (Yeah, I know, gambling in the casino, even.) Here’s Ryan’s report.

Rahm Emanuel visited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his Capitol office on Sunday evening and personally urged him to cut a deal with recalcitrant Sen. Joe Lieberman, two Democratic sources familiar with the situation said.

Now, aside from the fact that the White House looks stupid to us, as they try to insist Reid wasn’t visited by the Ghost of Health Care past, consider how they look to those close to the negotiations, who not only are being jerked around by Lieberman and Rahm, but who also risk losing their job as Senator and Majority Leader over this legislative failure. Here’s how that frustration sounds.

The report, however, according to the two sources, was entirely accurate. “We’re long past time for these kinds of games,” one source said.

But as bad as Rahm is making the White House look right now, consider how bad he’s going to make the White House look, if Lieberman refuses to deal. After all, Lieberman has taken just days to refuse the last compromise, based on claims of opposing a policy he supported three months ago. Lieberman doesn’t give a shit about health care, Obama, or Rahm Emanuel. (Or Harry Reid, for that matter.) So after forcing the White House to lie repeatedly about his strong-arm tactics, Rahm is going to make the White House look still worse after the Lieberman refuses the next deal he makes.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.