I compared the health-care fight to the Battle of Stalingrad the other day, not even realizing that William Jacobson had done the same: “Waterloo probably wasn’t the best analogy, in hindsight. Waterloo was a short but decisive battle. The health care fight has turned out to be more like the battle of Stalingrad.
The battle of Stalingrad was a bloody, grinding battle over several months during World War II in which superior forces were ground down by weaker, but more highly motivated forces. . . . Stalingrad, in hindsight, was a fight the Germans should not have picked. So too the attempt to restructure one-sixth of the economy through overwhelming government power is a fight Obama should not have picked with the American people. We have bled jobs while Obama has tried to force through a program the American people do not want. Had Obama’s health care agenda had popular support, the legislation would have been signed into law long ago. The health care fight has drained the Obama administration and agenda, and the entire Democratic Party. Right now, the Democrats are pushing forward only because they are in too deep. Having continued the battle despite the lack of popular support, Democrats have left themselves no way out. There is no path to victory for Democrats in this battle. To fail to pass ‘something’ will be a mortal blow to Obama’s prestige; to pass ‘something’ will be a mortal blow to Democrats in Congress in the November elections.”
The only problem with that metaphor is that under that thinking, we’re the Soviets. You know who should sort this out? Jonah!
The other day I quoted a liberal blog with a simple approach to the health-care vote: We’ll know Pelosi has the votes when they schedule the vote; until that happens, she doesn’t. It makes sense, since, if you were Pelosi, you wouldn’t want to wait around and give any nervous members time to change their minds.
As many have noted, without 218 House votes, all the talk of reconciliation in the Senate is moot.
Dan Perrin points out the ugly (for Pelosi) truth at RedState: “By the way, ObamaCare did not die and rise back to life. It has been dead for a long time. The President, the Speaker, Axelrod and Plume keep insisting that it is alive because they live in a fantasyland bubble. (Don’t start living the dream too.) There is a view other than ObamaCare is dead or is alive. You could be like Hennessey: ObamaCare is both dead and alive. His piece is titled Health Care CPR, but in reality, Hennessey’s view is it is mostly dead. The Speaker and the White House can not allow themselves to believe anything other than they will win, because they have developed the intellectual behavior of the politically irrational.”
The really short version: Only Stupak’s pro-life language got the health-care bill through the House the first time; without that, they lose Stupak and his like-minded fellows — the “Stu-pack” — and it’s kaput.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: “So far, Stupak appears to have accurately described his caucus. There is still a core group of pro-life Democrats who refuse to get rolled by the Senate, especially after going out on a limb and succeeding in passing the Stupak amendment. It will only take a few of them to flip to No to stop the Senate bill from passing the House. But, along those same lines, we have to wait and see whether they remain firm in that opposition. Remember that Sen. Ben Nelson said much the same thing in December, only to flip after getting a cushy Cornhusker Kickback from Harry Reid. Nancy Pelosi can’t change this bill to accommodate such wheeling and dealing, but she can exercise her power over other priorities of Lipinski, Oberstar, and the others. That’s a very real threat in one sense, and a big opportunity in another for Lipinski and the other holdouts. Right now they can write their own tickets with Pelosi and the White House, and few politicians would pass up that kind of access.”
Having said all that, breaking last night: “Prospects are good for resolving a dispute over abortion that has led some House Democrats to threaten to withhold support of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a key Michigan Democrat said Monday. Rep. Bart Stupak said he expects to resume talks with House leaders this week in a quest for wording that would impose no new limits on abortion rights but also would not allow use of federal money for the procedure. ‘I’m more optimistic than I was a week ago,’ Stupak said in an interview between meetings with constituents in his northern Michigan district. He was hosting a town hall meeting Monday night at a local high school.”
Things might not be as frightening as Geraghty’s finale makes out, as there are now indications that some of the “yes” votes from November are now bleeding away on Obama and Pelosi. The first such public manifestation comes from New York Democrat Michael Arcuri, whose upstate district (Utica and surrounding areas) is relatively conservative. Arcuri is feeling the heat from his constituents and he’s getting out of the kitchen:
“I think the president wants action, but many people that represent moderate districts such as myself think that hey, you know, we need to take this thing and do it in a more incremental way, and we continue to think that,” Arcuri told NEWSChannel 2 on Sunday.
Based on the Eric Massa saga – and of course the obvious question being asked this morning; namely why is Massa gone for making salty comments to a bunch of drunks at a wedding reception while tax cheat Charlie Rangel is still around – one of two things will happen here. Either Arcuri is in for a world of trouble and he’s likely to see his political career turn up dead Chicago-style, or he’s the first of several Democrats to jump ship on Obamacare. With the latest Rasmussen polling showing Obamacare going down to defeat with the American people by a 53-42 count, 57 percent believing it will hurt the economy and 66 percent believing it will explode the deficit, those Democrats who value their careers more than left-wing ideology and recognize the increasing possibility of life without Nancy Pelosi in the House Democrat leadership might become emboldened.
And, as Geraghty says, should that happen we’ll never see a vote on the Senate Obamacare bill in the House. The president might flap his gums a lot about how the public deserves an up-or-down vote on it, but that’s a lie – what he really means is he thinks he deserves an “up” vote and he’s not going to stop until he either gets one – or the last frozen, starving German is shot in the snow along the Volga.
But Obama’s generals increasingly appear unable to give him the victory he craves. And it’s entirely possible that like Hitler at Stalingrad, he’ll wake up one morning and find that rather than continue to press the hopeless fight his generals have surrendered lock, stock and barrel to the other side.