David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, looks back at failed GOP strategy:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Matt Yglesias goes further:

Credit for not buckling goes to Nancy Pelosi and other gutsy leaders. But it also goes to the GOP. They wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer when lots of people wanted to surrender and settle for something much smaller. Instead, whipped up into a frenzy of ideological fanaticism and overconfidence, they decided to take no prisoners. So nobody surrendered! And that’s how Mitch McConnell brought universal health care to America.

Clive Crook echoes McArdle:

Whether you agree with [criticisms of the bill] or not, the law the Democrats just passed is unpopular. It is a far-reaching, transformative measure that in the end will affect almost everyone; it is opposed by most of the country; and it is now law. I would never have believed this possible in the United States.

Not only an historic day, it seems, but also a histrionic day. Bill Kristol demands a repeal. The National Review Online seems to have crashed altogether. “504 Error,” it reads this morning, which is as good a metaphor for the far right as anything.

Assuming this all goes down tonight like it looks like it will, I have only this to say: I am extremely impressed by the Democratic leadership, and especially Pres. Obama. Jim Fallows says everything else much better than I could.

UPDATE: Of all the wrong-headed reaction to the HCR bill’s passage, none are loopier than Megan McArdle’s apocalyptic claims:

Parties have passed legislation before that wasn’t broadly publicly supported.  But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP–bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.

One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi’s skill as a legislator.  But it’s also pretty worrying.  Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority?  Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn’t want this bill.  And that mattered basically not at all.  If you don’t find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances.  Farewell, social security!  Au revoir, Medicare!  The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected.  If they didn’t–if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission–then the legislative lock-in you’re counting on wouldn’t exist.

I understand that if you keep telling a lie often enough that makes it true, but I don’t see why people are convinced this bill is so hated. RealClearPolitics’ polling average has it at about 49% against, 40% in favor. These are not “storm the Bastille” numbers, and undermine McArdle’s claim (and those made more broadly by Republicans) that the GOP “persuaded the country that they didn’t want this bill.” For contrast, take a look at the polling for Social Security reform; now there was clear evidence that Americans didn’t want a piece of legislation. The “tyranny of the majority”? This is Hannity-Limbaugh-Beck (“HanniLimBeck”? “Hambauck”?) territory.

My bet is that when one side is running ads about ending bans on pre-existing conditions and the other side is complaining about Congressional rules of reconciliation and CBO numbers, things will look a little different than they do today. I like Democrats’ odds. Oh, they’ll still lose seats, and probably more than a few of them. That’s the way these cycles work. But if you’re too scared to do what voters elected you for, for fear they won’t elect you again, why should any of us be paying any attention to anything politicians do or say? Today something actually happened, as the result of an election. If Democrats wanted the base to turn out this fall, or to ever believe that Democrats would ever, ever do anything they said they would do, they had to pass this. The real peril, politically, was to do nothing.

UPDATE II: Oh, and maybe the Democrats thought this was the right thing to do. Bonus!

I’m copying some of this over from a facebook discussion I had today.

A friend posted a link to this NPR story, about a panel discussing the relative health risks for women who’ve had a cesarean section birth before. The question is whether such women should be denied the chance to have a vaginal birth (VBAC) the next time they are pregnant, if additional surgical staff is not on hand. Because VBAC had historically been seen as riskier, some doctors feared lawsuits if something were to go wrong.

I found the story to be pretty shady, slanted reporting. Two quotes from the pro-VBAC side, none from any other point of view, and vague, uncited statements like “It’s estimated that up to 75 percent of women would have no problem” with VBAC. Leaves very little doubt what Brenda Wilson thinks about the whole thing.

I’m not disputing the question of whether women should be “forced” to have c/s. Of course, every pregnant woman should ideally have as many options as possible. I support the attempt at a change in policy.

But I have a BIG problem with the assumption that c/s is necessarily bad. This is a problem in what has become dominant discourse about childbirth. Saying that a state has “the worst cesarean rate in the country” (rather than simply the “highest”), and giving no other viewpoint besides the VBAC activists’ claim that the current system “deprives women of the experience of having babies the way women were meant to have babies,” uncritically reinforce the notion that one way is “natural” and another way is “unnatural.” I would think there would be widespread agreement that every mother should be able to reflect on her own birthing story with the same sense of wonder and awe, without having to wonder if she was robbed of something.

The notion that there’s only one way to “naturally” get pregnant or have a baby is offensive to some pretty terrific mothers I know.

In response to Peggy Noonan’s claim that Obama should have simply tried to make insurance companies abandon their restrictions on patients with pre-existing conditions, Uwe E. Reinhardt explains why it’s not that simple:

She seems completely unaware that, to be implemented, that step has to be accompanied by (1) a mandate to be insured or, at the least, very powerful financial incentives to be insured. And if government imposes such a mandate on citizens, it must be ready (2) to subsidize low-income families in the acquisition of the mandated insurance. Already we have a bill requiring many pages.

To me, that’s a very helpful way of explaining to lay people like myself, who aren’t thrilled at the prospect of a massive insurance bill but don’t understand the nuances of the issue especially well, why such a bill is necessary even if your goals are relatively modest.

This then moves the debate to a different place, in my mind: if we are forced to go to great trouble and expense to get access to people with pre-existing conditions, is it worth it? If we decide it is, then it’s probably worth having the government involved. But Reinhardt’s point makes me more suspicious of Republican claims that we could just have the parts of the Health Care Reform Bill that everyone agrees on.

I’d have gotten to this sooner, but I’ve been sick and busy.

Here are my thoughts (after the jump) on Obama’s speech, Joe Wilson’s outburst, and the ongoing conversation about civility and public discourse. Here’s the video, though of course you’ve all seen it:

1. Obama’s speech was, from my perspective, highly effective. So of course it was completely overshadowed by Joe Wilson, from the great state of South Carolina.
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I’m not sure how Ezra Klein got into this series where he’s rehabilitating the GOP’s image, but he’s found another Republican Senator who seems to be breathing air, not fire. He’s Johnny Isakson, and he has this to say about Sarah Palin’s comments equating end-of-life planning with forced euthenasia:

I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin’s web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up.

It’s almost like these Senate Republicans want their party to be able to win another Presidential Election sometime in the next decade. Or that they’re actually interested in having adult conversations about the issues. Weird.

I can’t remember who said this, but somebody was recently writing that the Senate isn’t where there’s going to be trouble, it’s the House of Representatives. This interview, coupled with that of Sen. Lindsey Graham the other day, would seem to bear that out.

Those town halls have not all been pretty. So in order to balance things out a bit, reasonable people like yourselves might consider showing up to them. Congressman Dave Loebsack is about to start hosting some around Eastern Iowa, so go out and participate. I’m going to try to make one of them myself… It’s tough, ’cause the two locations that make the most sense for me are on days I can’t do it. But maybe I’ll get to that one in Washington…

Anyway, after the jump are the dates, courtesy of an e-mail from a former student:

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I don’t understand health care all that well. I do know that the town hall mobs are pretty lousy for public discourse, whether they are a natural outgrowth of conservative angst, or incited by conservative radio hosts/bloggers (who, by the way, probably have health insurance). This is one of those times when it would be nice to have sane, forceful, persuasive leaders on the Republican side.

I recently gave Lindsey Graham some flak for his patronizing treatment of Sonia Sotomayor (who Graham ended up voting for, by the way). But here, in this interview with Ezra Klein (who does understand health care), Graham comes off as quite reasonable. It’s worth reading what a sane conservative has to say on health care, and to compare to the insane conservatives (two words: “death panel”).

Here’s Graham’s first answer, on whether a deal can be struck:

The bargain that will eventually be made is that Republicans will give in to the idea that every American should have coverage, and it should be mandated. There’s resistance to that because it runs counter to some of the doctrine. Democrats need to understand that there won’t be a public option any time soon, if ever. The public option in many ways has become what “amnesty” was for immigration reform, or “privatization” was for Social Security.

Read it up.

Michael Steele is asked a straightforward, softball question, and cannot even come up with some boilerplate answer:

Tones, themes, and approaches they can do. Just don’t expect, er, governance.

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