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Alaina Love
Leadership author

Alaina Love

Alaina Love is co-author, with Marc Cugnon, of The Purpose Linked Organization and co-founder of Purpose Linked Consulting.

The kiss of death

Joe Lieberman, like many of his colleagues in politics, is suffering from a lack of credibility because his leadership style is not one of authenticity. Lieberman, who represents a state heavily populated with insurance companies, indeed has a responsibility to represent his constituents, but he also has an equally important burden to support legislation that benefits the estimated 45.7 million uninsured Americans.

His position on health care, like his position on party affiliation, calls into question Joe's convictions in general and whether he'll demonstrate the courage of those convictions in the most difficult of moments (which is, after all, when it counts most). His most recent behaviors have left the public questioning the purity of his motives and the integrity of his actions --two essential attributes in an authentic leader.

By shape shifting on important political issues, Lieberman has compromised his credibility. From party affiliation to health care, he has become an enigma to the public. On those occasions where his colors change sufficiently to clearly distinguish Joe from his surroundings, his track record of morphing leaves the public wary that the Joe they see today may be a very different-looking (and sounding) leader from the one they'll see tomorrow. In short, Lieberman may leave the public feeling they don't know who he truly is or what he really stands for.

These behaviors are the kiss of death in leadership, especially when times are most challenging. It is in the darkest of hours that our political leaders are called upon to be their most authentic and reliable selves, so that we can depend on them to work from a place of purpose that serves the highest good.

Note: Marc Cugnon contributed to this post.

By Alaina Love

 |  December 22, 2009; 6:55 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I personally found Lieberman's turn-about on healthcare reform suspicious enough that his well-known narcissism doesn't seem adequate to explain it. Spite, maybe, at what he went through in the last election? Or could it possibly be that there is corruption involved? I mean, is it out of the question to ask if the man could have been paid off?

Posted by: gposner | December 22, 2009 3:14 PM
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At risk of being crude and insulting, Lieberman is a cross between a Chameleon and a Sidewinder. The animals are what they are. Lieberman choses to adopt the behaviors for political and ego reasons. He instinctively knows how to grab the spotlight. Would you buy a used car from this man?

Posted by: hercster44 | December 22, 2009 1:04 PM
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A leader has convictions which in today's political world has been, to a large degree, lacking in all parties.

What Sen. Lieberman may have finally figured out is that this bill is not a healthcare reform bill but a make insurance bill. One that the insurance companies in his State will make a handsome profit.
Note that 70% of all healthcare dollars are utilized for 10% of the population. The bottom half of the population utilize only 3% of the total healthcare dollars. Attacking the cost of chronic disease (75% of healthcare dollars) is what will reform healthcare not another make insurance bill. There are no major incentives in this bill to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle.

You can attack him for being against the public option but look how the CBO has blown previous estimates of healthcare insurance cost:

When Medicare was passed in 1965 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost by 1970 would be approximately $ 3.1 billion. The reality was $ 6.8 billion. The CBO estimated the cost of Medicare by 1990 would be $ 12 billion, the reality was $110 billion.

There are several reasons the costs went up. The CBO underestimated the number of patients that would use the hospital insurance. The CBO estimated that the cost would be $ 9 billion by 1990. The actual number was $ 67 billion.

The CBO estimated that Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funds which States would use to reimburse hospitals for treating more Medicare patients and the uninsured would cost $ 1 billion by 1992. The actual number was $ 17 billion. This does not take into consideration the portion funded by each State (supposedly 50:50, but States are good at finding ways of getting more Federal funding)

The CBO estimated that the Medicare home care benefit passed in 1988 would cost $ 4 billion by 1993. The actual amount was $ 10 billion.

The CBO in 1988 estimated that the Medicare catastrophic coverage benefit would cost $ 5.7 billion by 1993. The cost in 1993 was $ 11.8 billion .

The CBO estimated the State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) would cost approximately $ 5 billion a year over 10 years in 1997. By 2006, the money was gone requiring a supplement of $ 283 million in 2006 and $ 650 million in 2007.

Leaders look at the cost v. benefit of legislation and what we will saddle our children and grandchildren with. Look at the retrenching going on in Ireland today. I believe healthcare reform is necessary and something we must do, but this bill is not it.

Posted by: skyr2 | December 22, 2009 11:40 AM
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3 Months ago Senator Lieberman supported the medicare buy in and then he has an Epiphany moment and is now totally against it. In his own state in a recent Qunipac poll 56% support it. I guess I'm naive because I think a senator is supposed to represent his constituents over the business interests in his state.

Posted by: constantine79 | December 22, 2009 11:18 AM
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Agreed. I am amused by the question, "Why is Joe Lieberman being so harshly criticized for displaying leadership?".

Because this is not a genuine display of any leadership. Most insurance companies are based out of CT. Would I would really like to know is, how many millions of dollars in campaign funds are they paying him to reject this bill? I *really* fail to understand his adamant rejection of 55+ buying into Medicare. BUYING. Buying as in PAYING a premium for healthcare. What is the problem there? And that is why I am convinced he has been bought.

C'mon Connecticut, OUST LIEBERMAN 2010.

Posted by: jromaniello | December 22, 2009 10:30 AM
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Well done. The false premise of the question is that Lieberman avoided “partisanship and ideological rigidity.” His stated reasons for first opposing the public option and then reversing himself on the Medicare buy either made no sense or were factually erroneous, and Ezra Klein and others repeatedly pointed out. The most logical explanations for his positions are (1) ideological rigidity, (2) partisanship (getting revenge on those who opposed him in 2006) or (3) protecting the insurance industry. The last is the most benign explanation, but if that is his motivation, he is, at a minimum, disingenuous

Posted by: dwells3 | December 22, 2009 10:07 AM
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More Joe Lieberman is like asking for another bout of rectal surgery - neither are desired and who wants to talk about it?

Posted by: atidwell | December 22, 2009 8:52 AM
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