Democrat trap: Pelosi’s wrath or voter backlash | Washington Examiner
November 6, 2009
Democrat trap: Pelosi’s wrath or voter backlash
By: BYRON YORK
Chief Political Correspondent
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, pumps her fists after she announced a retooled health care overhaul bill, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
The House is in the final rush toward passage of a national health care bill, and there’s one thing Speaker Nancy Pelosi absolutely, positively does not want her Democratic lawmakers to do: Go home.
“You meet constituents and get an earful from them — that’s the last thing she wants,” says a key House Republican aide. “If you were a Democrat, and you went home last weekend and were asked about the health care bill, you could say, ‘I’m still looking at it.’ Well, now you’ve had it for a week, the vote is any day now. What are you going to say?” Better just to stay in Washington and avoid potentially uncomfortable scenes.
The problem is, those constituents, perhaps 10,000 of them, came to Capitol Hill Thursday to raise the issue in person. They came to the “House Call” rally organized by Republican leaders, but they desperately wanted to get a message to the 52 moderate Blue Dog Democrats who hold the fate of PelosiCare in their hands.
HEY BLUE DOGS! said one hand-lettered sign. WHO WANTS TO BE TOAST?
“What can the Republicans do at this point?” asks Clare Roberts of Chambersburg, Pa., the woman holding the sign. “They don’t have the votes. It’s up to the Blue Dogs to stand against this right now.”
One Democrat who may be having visions of toast these days is Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello, who last year defeated a Republican incumbent by less than one-fifth of one percentage point. In Tuesday’s gubernatorial election, the GOP came roaring back in Perriello’s district, with Republican Bob McDonnell smashing Democrat Creigh Deeds by a 61 to 39 percent margin. The newly energized GOP will definitely be gunning for Perriello next year.
You’d think that fact — along with the drubbing Perriello took at some town halls last August — might be a message to the lawmaker, who has never committed one way or the other on PelosiCare. But by Thursday, Perriello appeared ready to stick with his speaker, even if it kills him. “I’ve moved a lot closer to yes,” he told MSNBC. “I really think that’s the key. Being the party of no, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, just saying ‘no’ is not enough. The question is, are you putting solutions on the table?”
Perriello is not alone. There are dozens of Democrats representing districts where a majority of voters have serious misgivings about national health care. And yet many will end up voting for their party’s bill. Why?