The problem is not that Blanche Lincoln opposes the public option because she has a serious policy concern. If she had real policy concerns, I would be happy to debate the merits of the ideas, and I'm sure the progressive community would be willing to keep an open mind if she were willing to offer a serious alternative. (Hint: Replicate the German system by turning all private insurance companies into highly regulated non-profits run like public utilities)
We know that Lincoln does not have serious policy concerns about the public option because she supported it before she was against it. Before it became the center of a heated political battle, Lincoln endorsed the idea, in fact she still has her endorsement of the public option up on her website. Now that Lincoln thinks the “centristy” position is to be against the public option, she is against the public option. This is pretty much the definition of "unprincipled."
Lincoln decided on Saturday to make a big show of opposing the public option on the Senate floor. She did so because she was afraid that Republicans would attack her. Opposing any idea you once claimed to support because you are afraid of possible political attacks against you is the definition of "coward."
Finally, Lincoln must know how important the public option is to the majority of Democrats in the House and the Senate. She must know it has overwhelming support among the Democratic base and the American people. She must have read the CBO letter that predicts the public option will help reduce health insurance premiums across the board on the new exchange for individuals and small businesses. She must know the public option will help millions of Americans--who would have otherwise been treated poorly by private insurance companies--get quality health insurance.
Blanche Lincoln knows all this and has decided to flip-flop on the public option in hopes of improving her “centristy” street cred. She is willing to force tens of millions of Americans to pay higher premiums for the small possibility it could gain her some political advantage. The way I see it, this is the definition of a jerk. Way to go Blanche, you managed to pull off the trifecta of awfulness.