Oh, wow. I was watching John Boehner doing his Glenn Beck imitation, demanding a one-by-one vote to delay reform by an hour or two, and considering bailing out — but then … a standing ovation as Nancy Pelosi walks in.
History as we watch.
Her speech started off a little awkward — but it’s getting more and more passionate. Anyway, the world will little note nor long remember what they say tonight. What matters is what they do tonight.
We’ve seen this stone get rolled up the hill, then slide back down, so many times. I almost expect lightning to hit the Capitol.
But it’s really happening.
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And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin — who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate — eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
Without question, the campaign of fear was effective: health reform went from being highly popular to wide disapproval, although the numbers have been improving lately. But the question was, would it actually be enough to block reform?
And the answer is no. The Democrats have done it. The House has passed the Senate version of health reform, and an improved version will be achieved through reconciliation.
This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.