Politico’s headline blares: “Nancy Pelosi’s Brutal Reality Check.” A big chunk of that reality is the absence in the House of votes necessary to pass ObamaCare:
Pelosi and other top House Democrats say publicly that they have the votes to push through a comprehensive package, but privately, they know they don’t. Pelosi must balance the diverging interests of her own members while simultaneously satisfying Senate Democrats and working with President Barack Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a former House colleague with whom she has an uneasy relationship.
Oops. And then there are the upcoming elections, the retirements, the corruption scandals, and her own unpopularity. But she assures us that the Democrats will keep their majority. Listen, what do you expect her to say? No use turning a rout into a stampede. But it does suggest that many of the pro-Obama spinners in the media are being taken for a ride. They seem to take seriously the notion that she’s got this all lined up and that reconciliation is the magic potion for passing ObamaCare.
It isn’t clear how much in touch with reality Pelosi is. Does she buy her own spin or is she trying to make the best out of a bad situation? Maybe she is simply trying to keep her finger in the dike, preventing the dam from bursting and the liberal base from going berserk and thereby further demoralizing her caucus. But if she has some sense of her own political peril and of the near-moribund state of ObamaCare, it would be a wonder why she is not, at least quietly, trying to come up with Plan B. She’s decried incrementalism, as Obama has. But that’s her only hope if, in fact, the votes for a grandiose health-care scheme just aren’t there.
Perhaps what is required here from Pelosi is not an introduction to reality but a collision — a vote that fails or a whip count that shows she is over 15 or 20 votes shy of a majority. If that moment comes, then perhaps we will see whether Pelosi has the skill and smarts to find a way to save her own speakership, the Democratic majority, and, in a meaningful way, Obama’s presidency. And then we’ll maybe give her some praise for a health-care plan that is incremental, affordable, and reasonable — everything the current plan is not.