By Dick Morris - 11/10/09 10:20 PM EST
Knowing that the bill will likely be political suicide for any red-state Democratic congressman, particularly if he or she is a freshman, the House leadership had to negotiate with its members to assure that the 38 defectors were the ones who needed the political cover the most. That there would be 38 Democrats who would oppose the bill was pre-ordained. Who they would be was the subject of negotiations right up to the wire.
The chicanery and deception that led up to the vote underscore the myth of the moderate Democrat. The entire Democratic Caucus — with pitifully few exceptions — was committed to passing the healthcare bill. Had it needed all 258 Democrats to vote yes, the bill would have come awfully close.
But the Democratic margin in the House meant that the leaders did not need 258 Democrats, they only needed 219. So they let the most marginal among them off the hook and allowed them to vote against the bill, preserving their chances at reelection.
The real question facing the voters is whether they will be deceived by this sleight of hand in which moderate Democrats pretend that the bill was passed over their objections. Will the voters buy their claims that it became law despite their best efforts?
Once, the voters might have fallen for this trickery. But not now. The electorate is far too well-informed to believe that any Democratic congressman really opposed this bill.
The days of the Democrats who live in red states and who let this bill pass, whether they nominally voted for it or not, are numbered. They could not and would not read the handwriting on the walls of New Jersey and Virginia and are about to suffer the fate of their ancestors in 1994 who disregarded similar warnings. Their political careers are about to come to an end.
In the Senate, where 60 votes are needed, there can be no such shell games. All Democrats must report for duty for this bill to pass. So Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Jon TesterJon TesterGOP plan: Link Dems to an email scandal Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables MORE (D-Mont.), Max BaucusMax BaucusChina moves to lift ban on US beef Overnight Healthcare: Zika fight stalls government funding talks | Census finds big drop in uninsured | Mental health bill faces wait Glover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft MORE (D-Mont.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.) and Kay HaganKay HaganPhoto finish predicted for Trump, Clinton in North Carolina Are Senate Republicans facing an election wipeout? Clinton's lead in NC elevates Senate race MORE (D-N.C.) have a serious decision to make. They have no place to hide.
And should Harry ReidHarry ReidNevada's Heck won't say who he's backing for president GOP groups ride to rescue in 3 key Senate races Obama seeks down-ballot gains after being midterm loser MORE invoke the reconciliation option, he would face other defections from Democrats who realize that they, too, might one day be in the minority and need the filibuster to maintain their relevance in the future.
For now, all Democrats should compare the results in Virginia and New Jersey in 1993 and in 2009.
In Virginia, in both years, an incumbent Democrat sat in the statehouse but was not permitted to run again. In both years, the Republican won the governorship by identical 58-41 margins.
In New Jersey, in both years, the incumbent Democratic governor sought another term and lost: in 1993 by 49-48 and in 2009 by 49-45.
If any Democratic congressman is naïve enough to believe that a debacle in 2010 will not follow the forecasts of 2009 as surely as the deluge of 1994 followed the precursor of 1993, he doesn’t deserve to be in Congress. And he won’t be.
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonOvernight Healthcare: Trump calls ObamaCare stats 'a lie' | Clinton vows to 'tackle' hikes Dems come to ObamaCare's defense after premium hikes The lazy political writing of 'SNL' MORE, is the author of Outrage and Fleeced. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Catastrophe, go to dickmorris.com. In August, Morris became a strategist for the League of American Voters, which is running ads opposing the president’s healthcare reforms.