From Speaker’s Lobby Blog:

There is a very odd fight that’s taking place a bit below the radar here in Washington and the Senate isn’t even in session, making it clear that we are, in fact, in a midterm election year that is shaping up to be perhaps the toughest for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in the political fight for his life back home in Nevada. And it’s clear, there’s some bad blood out there still for Sen. Joe Lieberman, a self-styled “Independent Democrat”.

“Associates” of Reid bashed the Connecticut senator to Adam Nagourney of the New York Times for an upcoming magazine article, attributing words to Lieberman that appear to be untrue.

Back in December, with the public option dead, Dems revived an old proposal to expand Medicare, but Lieberman said no, scuttling the plan that was seen by some liberals as a decent alternative to the public option.

Reid reportedly said Lieberman “double crossed” him when Lieberman publicly stated his position on a Sunday talk show. The CT senator had, in fact, sent a letter days earlier to the Majority Leader, though, to tell him he was standing against the plan.

Reid’s staff today put out a rather lukewarm statement from the leader, not mentioning the NYT and certainly not retracting the previous comments from Reid, saying only, “Senator Lieberman and I have a very open and honest working relationship. On issues ranging from foreign policy to health care, even when we disagree, he has always been straight forward with me.”

Lieberman put out one of his own right after, which noted the reason for the statement and emphasized the discrepancy, saying,“I appreciate Senator Reid’s statement in response to the comments attributed to him in the New York Times Magazine. As Senator Reid indicated in his statement, he believes, as do I, that we have always been honest with each other and any suggestion otherwise is simply false and contrary to the truth.”

A Senate source with knowledge of the conflict, insisting on anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation, went further, telling Fox that the Majority Leader actually called Lieberman this morning about the matter. The leader, according to this source, sought out Lieberman and specifically denied the account in the NYT.

Reid’s staff will not discuss this issue at all, however, preferring to let the NYT article stand. Spokesman Jim Manley said simply, “no comment” Wednesday when asked about the apparent discrepancy.

Healthcare has created a rather toxic environment in Washington, to say the least, and it’s clear the knives are still out for Lieberman, who supported Republican Sen. John McCain for the presidency over Barack Obama, a move that nearly cost him his chairmanship of a key committee.

And no doubt the more liberal members of the Democratic Party are stinging from Lieberman’s scuttling of the public option, or government-run healthcare, (though he was certainly not alone in opposing this provision) and then, when he put the knife into Medicare expansion, they were ready to hang him from the gallows.

Perhaps if this liberal outrage is paired with the fact that Reid is in a tough race back home and can use every ounce of support from the base, a reason becomes clearer for why there is such a very odd fight going on here in Washington.