From the Monday Morning Jolt, off my desk and working its way to you . . .
The Health Care Debate Has Been Stalingrad, It’s Verdun . . . What Are We At Now, the Thirty Years’ War?
You know, one of these mornings, I’d like to start this thing off with some topic besides health care. Because a few more weeks of this endless talking-point-a-thon, and these newsletters are going to consist of me writing with caps lock, “YEAH. THEY’RE STILL HELL-BENT ON PASSING THIS CRAP. NO, THEY’RE STILL NOT LISTENING.”
If it feels like nothing changes as this legislative kidney stone works its way through the body politic, it’s because nothing’s changing. Seriously, Public Policy Polling polled folks in Colorado back in August, and now: “The numbers are amazingly unchanged from last summer. Then 73% of Democrats supported it. Now 72% do. 8% of Republicans supported it then. Now 9% do. 36% of independents supported it then. 36% of independents support it now. For everything that’s happened basically no one’s changed their mind.” I know you’re all shocked that Americans tuned out six months of lecturing about the importance of good health from a Speaker of the House who looks embalmed. The President will declare that the time for talk is over, and remind John McCain we’re not campaigning anymore, with a rally in Ohio today.
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The bad news: Friday afternoon, NRO reported on some glum vibes from Bart Stupak, pro-life Michigan Democrat who deserves a medal for his adherence to principle. He’s turning out to be the most resolute and intractable holdout since Bartleby the Scrivener, but it sounds like he expects some of his guys to flip. Robert Gibbs says Obamacare will be the law of the land by Sunday, but he was talking about them getting this done during college football season, so it could just be the usual bluster. It was surprising to hear House Majority Whip James Clyburn admitting they don’t have the votes as of Sunday morning, but the usual rule applies. As soon as Pelosi’s guaranteed of that 216th vote, they’ll be calling the vote on the floor within milliseconds.
The good news: A couple more previous yeses are turning negative. Steve Driehaus of Ohio, a previous yes, looks pretty shaky: “While I certainly support this initiative . . . I will not bend on the principle of federal funding on abortion,” Driehaus said in an interview with The [Cincinnati] Enquirer. “They are going to have to do it without me and without the other pro-life Democrats.” Throw Jerry Costello of Illinois in there, too. Pelosi’s not going to get most of the Stupak dozen or so, and probably not more than a few. But this vote is probably exceptionally close, and this administration will throw in the entire U.S. Treasury to sweeten the deal. To re-use a line from my appearance on CNN Sunday morning, discussing Rahm Emanuel’s shower showdown: “It fits the existing narrative, they’re looking for votes on health care. They want to arm twist – I hope it’s only arm-twisting.”
Of course, if you’re not subscribing, you’re not getting the morning take on the hit piece on Clarence Thomas’s wife, Frank Rich’s repeat, Howard Fineman’s obsessive-compulsive writing disorder, what the Washington Post has been eagerly awaiting, and the sequel to Demonsheep, which actually lives up to the hype.