The Corner

Gut Check for Obama, and for Liberals

I have bristled, over the years, when my fellow pro-lifers have accused liberals of treating abortion rights as a “sacrament,” a political be-all and end-all. I thought this was unfair, that the abortion-rights lobby was just another interest group — no more powerful for liberals than the NRA is for conservatives, and no serious person refers derisively to Second Amendment rights as a “sacrament.” Well, this may be the year I’m proven wrong about this, once and for all. The Democrats in power have a chance to fundamentally reshape health care in this country in a way that dramatically increases government’s role. They have, as they ceaselessly remind us, been trying to do this for some 60 years. If they lose this once-in-a-half-century opportunity to remake one-seventh of the economy, it would have to be over something pretty damned important, right?

Listen to David Axelrod today. From a UPI story:

Obama adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the president hasn’t wavered in his opposition to the Stupak Amendment, a measure authored by conservative Democrats to ban abortion coverage which last week passed the House with solid Republican support.

“The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn’t believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion,” Axelrod told CNN. “He’s going to work with the Senate and the House to try to ensure that at the end of the day the status quo is not changed.”

They could barely get this thing through the House, even when the pro-life Democrats had the Stupak Amendment to sweeten the deal. Now they appear to be willing to lose the health-care bill — and it’s not even in defense of their underlying principle of abortion rights. They are willing to risk losing the bill simply because the bill does not expand access to abortion as much as they would like it to.

That’s a devotion that borders on religious fervor. There are many things that have been called make-or-break for the Obama presidency: winning Afghanistan, preventing another 9/11, turning the economy around. Here’s another thing that could break his presidency: torpedoing his No. 1 agenda item, in obeisance to a single-issue special-interest lobby that is losing support from the American people. Obamacare may well be a disaster if it’s enacted; I trust the economists on that. But that would take a while to hurt Obama politically. Losing the bill would be an immediate blow, and a severe one.

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