Commentary Magazine


It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Kim Strassel thinks ObamaCare isn’t a done deal. Not by a long shot. She writes: “Republican Scott Brown is running strong in Massachusetts on a promise to be the 41st vote against health care in the Senate. Democrats’ bigger worry right now is whether Mr. Brown might prove the 218th vote against health care in the House.” In other words, Nancy Pelosi may have a heck of a time rounding up the votes in January, especially if Massachusetts delivers a body blow to the Democrats. As Strassel notes, since the last time House members were forced to walk the plank, the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial results have had time to sink in, ObamaCare and the president himself have continued to sink in the polls, and now Massachusetts is proving more than the Democrats can handle.

Strassel explains:

Of her three-yes-vote margin, Democrat Robert Wexler has resigned; his seat remains unfilled until April. Republican Joseph Cao won’t be the final vote for a Democratic bill. As for the 39 Dems who initially voted against the legislation, a vote flip now would be an invitation to be singled out—a la Blanche Lincoln—as the individual who brought the nation ObamaCare.

We shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the White House to strong-arm Democrats, but neither should we underestimate the fear factor that must be gripping the Democratic caucus. If Chris Dodd, Byron Dorgan, and maybe even Harry Reid are goners, could they be next?

In some sense, the Republicans are in the catbird’s seat. If ObamaCare fails, they can claim a measure of credit for having advertised its weaknesses and persuaded their colleagues of its toxicity. And if it passes, that’s the top issue for the 2010 campaign. As for Obama, what was to be his signature piece of legislation has now become a political trap. The solution, of course, is to scuttle the current bill and come up with a remodeled, truly bipartisan approach that eschews the most noxious parts of ObamaCare (e.g., forcing Americans into the arms of Big Insurance, taxing rich and not-rich voters). But for now, that seems not to be on the radar, so the House Democrats’ dilemma remains: a leadership that insists its members pass a bill that may well spell the end of Democratic majority status.

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