The good, the bad and the ugly

1) President Barack Obama — He has delivered on a massive, ambitious promise after mustering the guts to stake his entire presidency on a comprehensive overhaul of healthcare. He rejected small ball and incrementalism and won. From now on Obama owns whatever happens to anyone's healthcare, the good, the bad and the ugly. We can all agree Obama has the audacity we thought the cool, detached, can't-take-sides law professor was lacking.
 
2) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Pelosi made history in January of 2007 when she became the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. She made it again last night, helping to usher in the most sweeping social policy legislation in decades. Few Republicans or Democrats thought Pelosi could pull healthcare reform from the ashes. She deserves credit for surprising everybody.
 
3) Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — Stupak drove Democrats nuts last fall when he held up healthcare reform and succeeded in attaching new restrictions on abortion to the bill. He hoped to keep them, and sounded until days ago like a pro-life Democrat still willing to take reform down with him on moral principle. Then in the final hours he reversed course, suddenly satisfied that an executive order, which carries no more weight than federal law, would somehow codify the Hyde Amendment Congresses pass each year stating that no federal funds will be spent on abortion.

Stupak's struggle must have been very painful, but his performance on the House floor last night was over the top. In speaking on behalf of Democrats against a motion to recommit the GOP was using to make him and other pro-life Democrats vote against the very language they insisted on, Stupak went after fellow pro-life Republicans he has agreed with and worked with for years. Instead of simply defending his choice and his vote, he attacked the GOP motion as something that "politicizes life" instead of "prioritizing life." It was nothing short of breathtaking.
 
4) Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — What is one of the main reasons healthcare reform isn't final today and is being sent back to the Senate to be "fixed" in a dramatic, unprecedented showdown? Because of the carve-out for Medicaid Nelson won for Nebraska before the vote on the Senate bill back in December.

Nelson, a two-term governor and former state insurance commissioner, defended the provision, then distanced himself from it and said he was trying to exempt the entire country from the cost of Medicaid expansion. It didn't fly with the Republicans who blasted a process of backroom deals and bribes, and Democrats ran from it as fast as they could. Nelson is now losing support at home and cannot erase the "Cornhusker Kickback" from his legacy.
 
5) Vulnerable Democrats — We won't name names, but lawmakers from swing districts facing tough reelection fights know if they voted yes last night they have risked it all. Polls show reform is currently unpopular, and by the time it becomes popular those Democrats could be long gone, having washed out in the tide of the 2010 midterm elections.
 
6) The Tea Party — Whether or not the Tea Party or Tea Parties help Republicans triumph over Democrats in this fall's midterm elections is yet to be seen. And whether or not the protesters at the Capitol this weekend spitting at members of Congress and screaming repulsive epithets at black and gay lawmakers actually belong to a Tea Party somewhere will never be known. But the Tea Party will be blamed for their behavior.
 
7) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Though long known to insiders as a top budget expert, Ryan emerged from the Budget Committee shadows during the healthcare reform debate as a studious, smart, affable grown-up and is now a GOP star.
 

WILL REPUBLICANS EVER REPEAL HEALTHCARE REFORM? Ask A.B. returns Tuesday, March 23. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.