“So just in case there’s any confusion out there, let me be clear: I am not going to walk away from health insurance reform.” —Barack Obama, to the DNC, earlier today.
Per Tom Schaller, this was his “biggest applause line” in front of a DNC audience. Forget “I do not quit.” From now on, it’s “I do not triangulate.”
Bipartisan rhetoric aside–though activists scorn such rhetoric at our peril, way underestimating how well it plays with most voters–this is now a matter of party, not ideology. As Obama says, “Here’s the thing, Democrats“–one of three times, in a pretty short speech, that he used that word describing his audience. Nate Silver has pointed out for some time that while those fighting for an ideology can argue over small differences and bridge some of their disagreements through constructive compromises, partisan politics is largely zero-sum: what makes one party looks good, makes the other look bad. (I can’t find my favorite post from him on this, but this gives an idea.) So far, this has been an uncannily good way of parsing the health reform debate–except that even Nate overestimated how likely Olympia Snowe was to cooperate.
Some “progressives,” if one can apply the term to people who care more about hurt feelings and sticking it to Washington insiders than about sick and poor people, may be unwilling to whip the health care vote. (SEIU, and other groups whose members actually lack health coverage, are another matter.) But anyone concerned with whether the country is run by Democrats or Republicans has only one choice. Pass the damn bill.
Update: Transcript here.
Second Update: Video here.