The Health Care Reform (HCR) debate has been rattling around in my head all day today, as you can tell by this record output. Anyway, I have a couple of thoughts on HCR that deserve attention.
1) The Pearl Harbor Analogy is off Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina, referred to the HCR vote as Democrats drinking sake in preparations for Pearl Harbor. . .and obviously I think this is a bad analogy. The Health Care Reform bill(s) weren't designed as gambits to destroy a potential threat, but rather, they are the first step in reforming health care services in this country. Accordingly, the GOP and their allies weren't protesting the parts of the bill (which were vague), but rather, they were protesting the idea of health care reform in any way, shape or form.
In other words, they were trying to prevent the Democrats from establishing a beachhead. Thus, its completely possible that Congress could take up the public option (or, as I like to refer to it, the Medicare buy-in) in the future. After all, with a bill this big, you're going to tweak it over the years. So, really, the better analogy is establishing a beachhead on Normandy.
2) Nancy Pelosi deserves a lot of credit Someone, somehow, found some spine on the Democratic side, and from most accounts, it was Nancy Pelosi. After Scott Brown won in the Massachusetts Senate race, everyone thought HCR was dead, and the Democratic centrists were pushing an incremental approach. At that moment, essentially said, "Fuck that," pushed for reconciliation, and put most of the deal together, and delivered the votes.
3) Obama became a leader of the Democratic Party While Pelosi worked her ass off to get the votes, Obama crystallized the cause to a lot of House members. At one point, he told Democratic lawmakers to look back and ask themselves why they became Democrats to begin with. In that way, the Democratic Party is going to be defined for the next 20 years by this legislation, and by Barack Obama as President.
For me, this goes beyond the terms of the typical debate. For the first time in a long time, the Democratic Party, as a whole, stood up for something, and spoke with one voice. They didn't just sign onto the bill, but they signed onto the very reason for the bill's existence, even if doing so meant electoral defeat. Not only did they pass the bill, they were proud to do it. Bill Clinton, for all of his skills, could never do that.
That's what makes Barack Obama so different from any Democratic President we've had in a long, long time. He doesn't want to follow public opinion, he wants to shape it, and it was through HCR that Obama learned how to be a President.