Ever since Scott Brown's election on Jan. 19 seemingly blew the Democratic caucus into pieces, Nancy Pelosi has been a rock. While acknowledging some tactical uncertainty in the immediate aftermath, she never wavered in her assurance that Democrats would find a way to pass comprehensive reform.
On Jan. 21, she caused some anguish by acknowledging that she did not have the votes to pass the Senate bill as is. She did glance at the possibility of piecemeal reform. But the dominant chord even then was that a path to meaningful reform would be found. Note the refusal to panic:
"There's a recognition that there's a foundation in that bill [the Senate bill] that's important. So one way or another those areas of agreement that we have will have to be advanced, whether it's by passing the Senate bill with any changes that can be made, or just taking [pieces of it]," Pelosi said.
"We have to get a bill passed -- we know that. That's a predicate that we all subscribe to."
When will that happen? Who knows!
"We're in no rush," Pelosi said.
On Jan. 28, she took heart from Obama's defense of comprehensive reform in the State of the Union address and responded to his call to Congress to get it passed:
“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”On Feb. 28, she told members of her caucus that passing reform was worth the personal risk of electoral defeat:
VARGAS...What do you say to your members, when it does come to the House to vote on this, who are in real fear of losing their seats in November if they support you now?
PELOSI: Well first of all our members -- every one of them -- wants health care. I think everybody wants affordable health care for all Americans. They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.
But the American people need it, why are we here? We're not here just to self perpetuate our service in Congress. We're here to do the job for the American people. To get them results that gives them not only health security, but economic security, because the health issue is an economic issue for -- for America's families.
On March 12, she set the tone for the endgame:
Again, I feel very exhilarated by a Caucus meeting that we had this morning in terms of the questions that Members have. We spent a good deal of time on the substance, but then some on the process as well. We stand ready to stay as long as it takes to pass the bill. I think Members are eager to pass the bill. And again, it won't be long before we'll be making a real difference in the lives of the American people.
On March 15, she went from pole-vaulting to gate-crashing to explain to liberal bloggers, some disappointed by her putting the kibosh on the public option, how incremental change works:
“Now we go from here. We kick open that door and there will be other legislation to follow.”On March 16, she explained her m.o. and implied a promise I'm inclined to credit:
"I never stop whipping."
The comment came in response to a question about whether she had started gauging her members' support for the health care bill.
"There's no beginning, there's no middle and there's no end," Pelosi said about her prediliction to listen to her colleagues' concerns. "We have a massive whip operation, and we'll be ready."
The speaker later added, "I think we'll be in pretty good shape."
And in a prequel from last July, staring ahead at the looming tea party ruckuses, my personal favorite:
“I am not afraid of August. It is a month."
It's been many months since then. And she is still one cool whip.