Nancy Pelosi and Health Care Reform

Well, the morning news hasn’t been this much fun to read in about a year. Seriously, I’ve been peeking through my hands at the headlines for the past few months, boggled at the very notion that Dems, with majorities in both houses, might actually simply cave to the demands of an increasingly fringe-driven minority party and just abandon the signature legislation they’d spent an entire year putting together.

But in the end they did the only sane thing—the only thing that would not once and for all have confirmed them the party of weakness, impotence, and disarray—and followed through on the promises that got them elected. The satisfying part is getting to read articles that conclude the Republicans’ just-say-no strategy is not only immoral, but ineffective: “By rejecting any deal with President Obama over health reform, conservatives and Republicans set the stage for their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.” Or here’s another one, simply titled How the GOP Made It Happen.

But I’m not sure I buy it. The Republicans’ refusal to give an inch on anything has seemed an almost terrifyingly good strategy over the past year. So much of the Senate rules, in particular, are based on the assumption of two parties working together in good faith, that when one party chooses to abuse the rules it seems they can just about prevent the government from working at all. The Republicans are invoking filibusters at an absolutely unprecedented rate, holding up even uncontroversial legislation and nominees—and it’s worked.

So no, I don’t think the GOP made health care reform happen. Increasingly, I think Nancy Pelosi made it happen. There’s a spate of articles out this morning about her key role in passing the legislation: headlines like The Real Hero of Health Care Reform: Nancy Pelosi and Heroine of the Hour and Pelosi Overpowers Stupak, Path Is Cleared. A few days ago I read a San Francisco Chronicle piece on her “mastery of the inside game“, and I was astonished to read in the New York Times that Pelosi was the one who urged Obama not to walk away from comprehensive reform.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m also reading this: R.N.C. Rallies to “Fire” Nancy Pelosi.

The R.N.C.’s goal is to raise $402,010 (read, 40 seats in 2010) in 40 hours. And it appeared to be well on the way: By 10:40 a.m. Eastern time, the site said it had raised $279,429.

Well, speaking as one of Pelosi’s actual constituents, I think I can safely say that the people who sent her to this job are pretty delighted with her this morning. In fact, as one of her “bosses,” I think she deserves a performance bonus and I’ve already made a contribution at (The contribution goes to the DCCC, not Pelosi directly, but she’s got no credible challengers here anyway.) I’ve sent e-mails and made phone calls to Pelosi throughout the health care reform process, and this morning I sent her one more: Dear Madam Speaker, I believe the relevant phrase for this morning is “You Go, Girl.” With admiration, Shannon Phillips.

4 Responses to “Nancy Pelosi and Health Care Reform”

  • Madeline Says:

    “So much of the Senate rules, in particular, are based on the assumption of two parties working together in good faith, that when one party chooses to abuse the rules it seems they can just about prevent the government from working at all.”

    Such a good point! I hadn’t quite realized that that was how the rules were designed to work.

    I *love* your message to Nancy Pelosi.

  • Todd Says:

    I love this post. My biggest concern, however, is that the Republican Bureau of Information is so powerful and effective at swaying the Know-Nothings and building up their resentful fervor that there is no hope of November bringing a massive Republican loss. I am personally in favor of having an opposition in the government and a reasonable, well-intentioned good faith resistance. But the Republican Party hasn’t been that since at least 1994. Best case scenario, I fear, is that the Dems hold a slim majority in each body after 2010. I hope I’m wrong.

    • shannon Says:

      “there is no hope of November bringing a massive Republican loss.”

      No, no there isn’t. They’ll almost certainly make gains — midterm elections are generally bad for the President’s party. But the Republicans have been openly gloating about the polls and I’m hopeful that they won’t get anywhere near the 1994-style sweep that they’re anticipating.

      And one of the key differences between 1994 and 2010 will be that Obama actually managed to deliver health care reform, where Clinton failed. The electorate seems to prefer almost anything to weakness in their leaders — at least, this is my explanation for George W. Bush, who was willfully ignorant and pigheadedly wrong on almost every issue. But he was *effectively* and *decisively* wrong, and the voters prefer that to gridlock and inaction. The Republicans know this perfectly well, which is why they’ve been going to such lengths to try and cripple Obama’s government. The Democrats need to circumvent their obstructionism and continue racking up legislative accomplishments.

      Like you, I’m hopeful that in the best case, the Dems will be able to hold their majorities. I think they can do it if they get more important legislative victories between now and November. Especially if they focus on job creation and responsible economic stewardship.

Leave a Reply