Former President Bill Clinton was reportedly working the phones to maximize Democratic votes on health care reform yesterday — all aimed at today, D Day for the Democratic party and for President Barack Obama.
Why is it D Day? Because unless there is some unexpected twist, by the end of the day (a phrase used literally here, not as a figure of speech) political junkies and Americans will one way or another be thrust upon a new political policy course with some answers:
Will there finally be some kind of plan in place that will signify the beginning of America tackling health care reform? If so, it will be the opening battle in what can be a long political war between parties, ideologies and special interests of its long term evolution.
Will the Democrats pass it in the House and — even with GOP delays — get it through the Senate? And then what? Will it prove to be political suicde as many Republicans and conservatives predict? Or will it stem what would have been worse Democratic losses by pleasing some of the party’s base and getting them to the polls in November? Will this mean Democratic losses as big or worse than predicted, or will it prove to be a kind of political band aid that won’t obliterate bleeding so far but halt or slow the bleeding? Historically, a President’s party loses seats in the first mid-term election. The question this time: will it be losing seats or a wipeout?
To paraphrase the late Edward G. Robinson in “Little Caesar,” can this be the (political) end of Obama? If the vote comes up short it’s safe to assume that if he’s fired up and ready to go he won’t have a good chunk of voters including some in his party behind him to offer support or take chances.
Will this be the day that Obama is added to the list of transformational Presidents, no matter how many words are later uttered by talk show hosts, political foes and those new and old media columnists who have been consistently against him? If health care reform passes today, he will be on a special list in the history books.
Will this be the day Nancy Pelosi gets the last laugh or is the subject of one more laugh? After being blasted in recent months by friend (she is not powerful enough and is not willing to fight enough) and foe (she is a San Francisco Democrat and ineffectual Speaker of the House), if the bill passes, the narrative about her will be more flattering. (Already two accounts here and here out today paint her in a better light but it seems clear that some of the sourcing for these pieces came from people close to someone with the initials “N.P.”).
Will this be a day when the U.S. gets a better reading on where its 2010 political center is? If the bill passes, watch to see what polls patterns (not just one poll) say about independent voters reaction once media stories shift from process (manuvers in Congress, controversies over efforts to pass it) to content (what the bill actually contains and what it means or does not mean). At present, liberals, moderates and centrists are defined at mind-boggling speeds by left and right (if an independent voter, centrist or moderate doesn’t agree with someone on the right the person on the right will claim the independent, centrist or moderate is really a far lefter; if the independent voter, centrist or moderate doesn’t agree with someone on the left, the person on the left will claim the independent, centrist or moderate is a far righter; moderates in both parties are seen as of the party in “name only” by their parties’ dominant factions).
Today’s new and old media stories will (correctly) focus on the horse race aspect of the votes.
The House is expected to take up debate around 2 pm. EST and the day is expected to end around 6 or 7 p.m. with the final of several votes.
But it’s D.Day:
A win will change the narrative for the Democrats and Obama.
And so will a loss.