Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 7, 2009

THE BISHOPS' BLESSING.... For center-right Democrats in the House, weighing whether or not to support a once-in-a-generation chance at passing health care reform, an endorsement from the AARP didn't much matter. An endorsement from the AMA didn't matter either. Support from the American Nurses Association and American Cancer Association barely raised an eyebrow.

But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seems to make quite a difference.

House leaders have won the backing of the nation's Catholic bishops for health reform, a critical last-minute boost that could give the bill enough momentum -- and enough votes -- for passage as early as Saturday. [...]

"Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation," the bishops wrote in a letter to individual members. "Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion."

It's another bitter pill for liberal Democrats but party leaders are gambling that the amendment will be just the breakthrough they need to secure a majority. And in fact, most Democratic advocates of abortion rights appear likely to swallow hard and vote for a health care overhaul anyway.

"I don't believe any of us believe we can hold up what we've been fighting for ... and that's health care," said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

Asked whether her allies in the pro-choice movement would support the bill with the Stupak language, Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a one-word answer: "Yes."

As for the vote on the Stupak/Ellsworth measure, Greg Sargent reports this morning that most Republicans are likely to join the Dems who oppose abortion rights: "A senior GOP aide tells me only a handful of Republicans will oppose the amendment, and a majority will support it. So if the 40 or so anti-abortion Dems expected to support it don't change their position, it'll almost certainly pass."

In about 20 minutes, President Obama is scheduled to arrive on the Hill for some additional lobbying, reminding Democrats about the historic opportunity they'll have today.

This is not only relevant in pulling together some lawmakers who remain on the fence, it also reinforces the significance of the day -- if the leadership planned to push the vote off until tomorrow or next week, they probably wouldn't have the president making a final push.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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"I don't believe any of us believe we can hold up what we've been fighting for ... and that's health care," said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

Said before voting for a bill that will strip legal health care from millions of women.

This bill deserves to fail and Democrats deserve to lose seats in 2010. What fucking principles does this party stand for when it bails on one of the fundamental parts of it's own goddamn party platform?

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 7, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Anything to pass a worthless bill that won't really do anything!

Posted by: soullite on November 7, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

There is really nothing historic about this bill. in 50 years, nobody is going to look back at this bill and say "thank god we fixed healthcare". No, they will still be talking about the need to reform healthcare and this will be just another failed attempt.

People telling themselves otherwise are just kidding themselves so they can pretend there isn't something seriously wrong with this party.

Posted by: soullite on November 7, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, AJP. And they'll be losing those seats to all those prochoice Republicans who'll be coming out of the woodwork any day now.

Naderite purism: proudly bringing you the GOP agenda since 2000. Let the wild rumpus begin.

Posted by: mandil on November 7, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

How utterly, magnificently, ironic in that ultimately tragic sense of irony that nietzsche referred to as "world historical irony."

The god damned Council of Catholic Bishops joins with a god damn shit-filled misogynist caucus of Congress to execute this ugly, hateful, indecent and corrupt crime agst women.

These men are so disgusting. This is truly an amazingly offensive stroke at how awful and indecent this country's government has become.

Posted by: neill on November 7, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Naderite purism: proudly bringing you the GOP agenda since 2000.

Oh fuck off. The Democratic Party platform claims to stand for protecting women's reproductive rights. "Naderite purism?" Being mad about a bill that would literally force private insurers to no longer provide abortion services to participate in the public health exchange?

Tell you what, I can be on the side of "Naderite purism" and you can just go ahead and be on the side of Joe Lieberman. Feel better, champ?

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 7, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Is anyone else watching the floor speeches right now by the republicans? So many lies...

Posted by: John on November 7, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

John, I was, but I couldn't stomach another second of it. Now watching Eukanuba Dog Show on AP. Same shit different flies.

Posted by: MissMudd on November 7, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Democrats deserve to lose seats in 2010."

That was you and the Naderites, not me. I'll feel better when the Democrats gain enough seats not to need Bart Stupak. I'll feel better when people who say the Democrats deserve to lose seats give half a second's thought to who would be winning those seats. Until then, champ, I'll live on this planet, not Ralph's.

Posted by: mandil on November 7, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

mandil, i'm generally much more pragmatic than Naderite, but this is not a binary choice between Nadarism and Liebermanism. Do you really believe that there is no point on the continuum where one crosses over from "justifiable, albeit distasteful compromise to acheive a Democratic objective" to "what the hell does this D after my name stand for, anyway?" Or are you so happy to have the nominal "D" that if they vote with Boehner or McConnell 100% of the time, that's still beyond your reproach?

We can have a reasonable disagreement about where on the continuum that point is (I happen to think an amendment that will, de facto, ensure that even most private plans not in the exchange drop all coverage of a legal, constitutionally protected medical procedure that helps bring equality to woman is over that line; you may disagree). We probably have nothing to discuss if you don't believe there is such a point, or that there is no continuum.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 7, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Keep trying to stop our beautiful conservative babies from being born, you slayers. We will triumph over you and your illegitimate confiscationist regime. Soon. Just watch. The Tea IS BREWING.

Posted by: Free Lover of Freedom and Free Liberty on November 7, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'll feel better when the Democrats gain enough seats not to need Bart Stupak.

Yeah, that's really gonna happen when a few million formerly Democratic-voting women are told that health services have just been dropped by their providers to conform to a Democrat-sponsored bill.

Awesome, GOP congressman on MSNBC right now saying how he's not voting for the health care bill but is "proud to vote for the Stupak amendment." "Democrats 2010- how cool was it when we gave the Republicans what they wanted?"

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 7, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm here, mandil, any other core Democratic principles you're totally fine with selling out on? How about immigration? Gay rights? Just curious what other major issues you don't give a shit about but are certain prove what a much better Democrat you are than me.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on November 7, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

It indeed becomes hard to work up enthusiasm for a Health Care bill when it is bled dry of single payer, arbortion rights, and so on and so forth. However, this is largely why opponents to health care keep trying to pull this crap, and there are enough of them that it works. Don't let the bastards win. To those who get discouraged, please keep your eyes on the bigger picture, the even worse alternatives, and the hope of fixing some of this stuff later (you know, sneaking abortion funding into a defense funding bill in some future congress). Desire for the perfect can indeed be the enemy of attaining a partial solution. In the meantime, however, it is well worth screaming to blue heaven to your representatives about how they will never have your vote again if they don't push for a decent progressive solution, because that's one way that causes advance in this country. Make your senators and congress-people believe in your wrath, but don't necessarily believe it yourself.

Posted by: N.Wells on November 7, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Religious fanaticism whether Catholic, Moslem, Protestant or the holy roller types is as much the root of evil as the love of money. Sorry, did not intend to leave out the Judaism fanatics.

Posted by: capatan dan on November 7, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

glad JFK went to all the trouble explaining that we shouldn't worry about Catholicism influencing our government if we elect Catholics. This all makes me feel so much better about 6 of 9 Supreme Court justices taking their marching orders from the Pope-Who-Once-Was-A-Hitler-Youth. we may not have equal rights for women, or gays, and may not have meaningful health care reform, but at least we have the Bishops' blessing, so at least we've got that going for us.

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 7, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

You're right, zeitgeist. There's a continuum, and in fact, I don't like this amendment. But I posited no binary choice. The thread opened with "Democrats deserve to lose seats." That's a binary choice, absent some evidence that I've yet to see after almost four decades of voting. I'm tired of this idea that everyone who fails to vote is a liberal who just can't stomach the choices.

AJP: Still waiting for that half-second's thought.

Posted by: mandil on November 7, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Perverts, pederasty and pedophila. That is who our blue dogs trust.
It's not working any more. It's a joke and it is killing itself with the actions it takes against it's people.
We are not represented any longer folks. Not that we have been, but this is the tell all.

Posted by: oldtree on November 7, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

mandil - the part you didn't answer, however, is whether there is any point on that continuum where you think it is ok to throw nominal "Ds" overboard. how many pieces of the party platform can an elected D abandon before the core of the D electorate should say "you really aren't one of us"? (In my view that answer may vary by district, but surely even in the worse districts the answer can't be that all that matters is the letter D, not the policy positions, because that results in policy revolts like we see today on the Stupak amendment?)

Posted by: zeitgeist on November 7, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

it is obvious to me that your nominalist party hackery is about as nihilistic as the Repugnants' chaos.

throwing half the population of the country under a bus is somehow a-okay, and anyone who is absolutely repulsed by such a reprehensible act is a "naderite"?

i am so sick of you bolshevik Dim party hacks...tho i guess it must be necessary if you are actually a party hack -- aka, a congress staffer for some blue dog.

Posted by: neill on November 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Zeitgeist, you've mostly answered the question yourself. It has to vary by district. It's a big country: holding 60% of Congress means that it's a long way from wing to wing on that side of the aisle. It was true in the 60s and it's true today; NY-23 is only the latest example. I'd love it if everyone who runs on the D line supported the platform wholeheartedly, but I know better than to expect it.

Remember, the question AJP raised--and what I was commenting on--was not how genuine a Democrat Bart Stupak is but whether he and those who voted for his amendment should lose their seats over it. If Bart Stupak loses his seat, he'll lose it to a Republican from rural Michigan. This helps how? We've already been there. It's a long, long, long way from where Congress was four years ago to my preferred place on the spectrum. We'll never get there if we start giving back seats. That's all I meant.

Posted by: mandil on November 7, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

After reading zeitgeist @ 12:42 a little more carefully, what I should add is that I'm more pessimistic than most here that the Dem "core" in, say, Stupak's district will nominate a better Dem who will hold the seat in the general.

Posted by: mandil on November 7, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm clearly in the minority here but I think the support of the Catholic Bishops is great. It's a huge feather in Obama's cap if the eventual bill has their support. That's just how it is; sorry.

Catholic bishops: We like the bill!

Tea Partiers: This bill is Auschwitz! Obama is Hitler!

Who do you think people will believe? Who do you think has more impact, AMA, AARP or the Bishops?

Posted by: manfred on November 7, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

These religious fanatics care about nothing except the sex lives of other people. If they really cared about the sanctity of human life, they would be spending their money on the poor and the needy. Instead, they are intruding into politics, using their tax exemption to take away the civil rights of gays and force poor women to have unwanted babies.

I sent this attachment to all of my Catholic relatives and asked them if this is the way they wanted their charitable contributions to be spent this holiday season. http://www.mainecampaignfinance.com/public/entity_financial_transactions.asp?TYPE=BQC&ID=4528

Posted by: candideinnc on November 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The sorrow is that women with families who have complicated pregnancies which will leave them dead and their children orphans if they don't abort the fetus will now just be doomed to die. Dr. Tiller saved so many mother's lives so their children would not become orphans and he was murdered by one representing a radical fanatic misinformation campaign which labeled him a baby killer rather than a mother saver.

Now what will women do? If women have no choice then men should have no choice either.

All men must be sterilized temporarily and only un-sterilized upon obtaining a license to have a child...this will do more to stop abortions than any other method.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 7, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"..."Democrats deserve to lose seats in 2010."..."

No one wants to bring back Bush or vote for repubs...we want better dems.

The question is how to best pressure these dems who aren't even listening to their own constituents...but this conversation would not be happening if we got rid of the senate filibuster and the majority were allowed to govern.

The House dems are easier to pressure as they serve 2yr terms. Campaign finance reform will change that. No one likes what these dems are doing but this lesser of 2 evils crap solves nothing. Not when both are harmful.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 7, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not convinced as yet that we aren't viewing Kabuki theater, as we have so often in the past where Congress is concerned. This disgusting amendment ends up in the bill; it goes to committee with the Senate. It gets dropped. My question is: what could it be traded out for that will be in the Senate version?

Posted by: Balakirev on November 7, 2009 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK



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