Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pelosi calls for courage -- and demonstrates it

Prior to the Massachusetts election, I can't say I had a very distinct impression of Nancy Pelosi.  Since that bomb dropped, however, scattering Democrats' brains in all directions, I have admired her courage.  She has been the one voice who has consistently said from almost the moment of impact on: we will get it done. We will pass comprehensive health care reform. Most memorably there was this, on Jan. 28:
“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.”

Today on This Week, Pelosi addressed the hardest question of all for wavering Democrats:

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.

Hear that, Democrats?  Passing health care reform will be worth your whole career. Pelosi is willing to stake her House majority on it. If you vote against it because you think it may cost you reelection, you might as well never have sought public office. (That means you, Bill Pascrell.) 

Obama said something similar to Senate Democrats on Feb. 3: "there's a direct link between the work you guys did on [the health care bill] and the reason you got into public office."  But he never put it as starkly as Pelosi did here.

Update: Karen Tumulty laid a cautious bet yesterday:
After what she managed to get her caucus to do last year, I would never, ever bet against the Speaker on a vote. And she is looking pretty determined on this one.
And here is evidence from the AP's Charles Babington that Pelosi knows the task is at least potentially doable:
Ten House Democrats say they have not ruled out the possibility of switching their earlier "no" votes to "yes" on the big health care overhaul. That's giving Democrats a glimmer of hope in the face of unyielding Republican opposition. The House members commented in interviews Monday with The Associated Press.

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