It is now virtually certain that the Senate will pass the health care reform bill currently before it. We must still suffer through the agonies of the Senate-House conference, but the odds are very great that sometime before his State of the Union address to the assembled members of Congress, the President wll sign a final bill, with as much in the way of bells and whistles, flourishes and furblows, as the White House staff can manage.
When this happens, it will be an enormous political victory for Obama, regardless of the details of the bill, and a terrible defeat for the Republicans. It did not have to be this way, of course. Had the Republicans accepted Obama's offer of bipartisanship, they could have won a bill much closer to what they say they are in favor of, and they would have shared the credit, going into the off-year elections.
But that is not what they wanted. No sooner had Obama taken the oath of office than Republicans began to say, openly and unashamedly, that their primary goal was to make Obama's presidency a failure. Gambling that at least one Democratic senator would break ranks, despite Harry Reid's best efforts, and, in all likelihood, privately hoping that Robert Byrd would expire before the final vote [a hope that devoutly Christian, born-again, but terminally stupid Tom Coburn actually gave voice to on the floor of the Senate], they dug in their heels, doubled down, bullied Olympia Snowe into behaving herself, and went for broke.
The victory, should it occur, will give Obama tremendous momentum going into 2010, just in time to throw his entire administration behind an effort to create jobs.
There is no evidence of which I am aware that the majority of Republicans care two cents about health care. Some of them are in the bag to the health industry lobbies, no doubt, but that is as true of the Democrats as of the Republicans. No one is more beholden to the health care insurance industry than Joe Lieberman, the "Senator from Hartord," as he is referred to, but even he, in the end, has gotten on board, after extracting some concessions for the industry that owns him.
If it comes to pass [he says, crossing the eight fingers with which he is not typing], it will be an extraordinary vindication for Obama's style of governing. And the Republiocans will have given it to him.
Historically, it has been conservatives, not radicals, who cherished ironies, but these days, one must get one's pleasures where one can.