Far smarter would have been to let the Senate debate a bill without a public option, defeat the amendment for installing it, and then push for the a watered down House version in the Conference Committee. If the Senate still refused to vote for it then, it would be a whole lot easier to make the case for a public option in budget reconciliation. That was the original plan. If Obama seriously let himself be convinced of Harry Reid's whip count, he screwed this up.And for the life of me, I don't see the way out of this. Harry Reid didn't have the votes, and he never did, apparently. Now the ConservaDems will dismantle the bill to the point where it will most likely fail, vulnerable Dems will lose their seats anyway in 2010 because voters like me are going to say "You chose to try to save your job rather than do the right thing, so screw you!" and vote them out of office, and Obama will be convinced to start playing the Clinton game.
If the problem is limited to Lieberman (and I don't think it is) then the solution is simple. He should lose his committee chairs in the next Congress. But that won't solve anything if the problem isn't limited to Lieberman.
The only upside I can see is that budget reconciliation just became more likely than a lousy bill in regular order. But, that hardly matters because a lousy bill in budget reconciliation just became infinitely more likely than it would have been had Reid not tried and failed to put the public option in the base bill at Stage Two.
Everything that went wrong with Clinton's presidency, from the Contract With America right up through impeachment, was a result of Clinton losing his health care battle first.
Will Obama follow the same dark path?
At this point, I don't honestly know.