Here's what's been happening today.
If this passes Pelosi gets the MVP award
In the jittery days following Scott Brown’s Senate victory, Nancy Pelosi was eager to resurrect comprehensive health reform. But first, she had to get past longtime ally Rahm Emanuel, who was counseling President Barack Obama to consider a smaller, piecemeal approach.
During a mid-February conference call with top House Democrats, Pelosi made it clear she would accept nothing short of a big-bang health care push – dismissing the White House chief of staff as an “incrementalist.”
Pelosi even coined a term to describe Emanuel’s scaled-down approach: “Kiddie Care,” according to a person privy to the call.
Pelosi’s remark was more than just a diss. It sent a clear signal to House leadership that Pelosi wouldn’t compromise – and it coincided with Obama’s own decision to renew his push for an all-encompassing bill after weeks of confusion and discussion.
The rebirth of the reform effort is the result of a little luck, insurance company avarice, a subsiding of post-Brown panic among party incumbents and the calculation by many Hill Democrats that going small or giving up was just as politically perilous as going big.
But the main reason the bill has made it to the floor has as much to do with the complex, occasionally tense, ever-evolving partnership between the first African-American president and the first female speaker.
“I think [Pelosi] is the one who has kept the steel in the President’s back – and I think she represents that to Harry Reid too,” Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Pelosi’s closest friend in Congress, told POLITICO.
“White Houses end up with – how do I say this? — they take an incrementalism pill,” added Eshoo. “But Nancy Pelosi is not an incrementalist.”
Neither is Obama, says Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), it’s just that he moves more deliberately. “I don’t think [the White House] were there from Day One, but they were from Day Two,” he said. “I think they knew this would be the way.”
The grueling health care struggle, now nearing a decisive vote in the House, has filled in a picture of Obama that remained stubbornly unfinished through his first year. Most immediately, it has shattered the image of him as a passionless president, too cool to fully commit to any cause.
Win or lose, Obama has pursued health care reform as tenaciously as any president has pursued any domestic initiative in decades. Health care has now been his presidency's central domestic focus for a full year. That's about as long as it took to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, originally introduced by John F. Kennedy and driven home by Lyndon Johnson. Rarely since World War II has a president devoted so much time, at so much political cost, to shouldering a single priority through Congress. It's reasonable to debate whether Obama should have invested so heavily in health care. But it's difficult to quibble with Emanuel's assessment that once the president placed that bet, "He has shown fortitude, stamina, and strength."
Whatever you believe about health care reform, it's hard to escape the conclusion that for one party, opposing reform was expedient, and for another, supporting it required the summoning of an uncommon degree of bravery and a resistance to every base political instinct.
And a bit off topic, but you gotta love Fox News:
Stewart's Glenn Beck impression borders on performance art:
I'll close with the Lincoln quote that Obama cited at the Congressional Caucus meeting today (the only thing he wrote down for his speech, which was off the cuff):
"I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have."