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October 26, 2009

House Bill Just May Founder on Abortion Issue

Dan Riehl collects up the stories.

Among them:

House Speaker Pelosi Friday dismissed questions about abortion, saying that how to "procedurally" handle floor debate on health care has not yet been decided. Still, leadership aides acknowledge Democrats need to make some changes to the bill's abortion language before the bill comes to the floor.

"This is not a done deal; I do think there is an impressive effort to find a compromise," a Democratic leadership aide said. "I don't know if we are ever going to be where Stupak is, but we'll be in a place that will satisfy a majority of those folks that he considers with him right now."

If they don't, Stupak will carry through on his threat -- and "I guess they run the risk" of losing, Stupak said.

If leaders can't agree on changes to the abortion language, they will have to court anti-abortion rights members one by one, hoping to peel enough away to strip the group of its power to hold up the bill. The question is whether other changes will resolve the concerns of members who might not be willing to derail all of health reform because of abortion.

One example is Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., a freshman in a swing district facing a possibly tight re-election contest without President Obama on the ballot. With the election likely becoming a referendum on the president's domestic programs, she has yet to announce whether she will support the healthcare package -- even though Pelosi spent an hour at a briefing touting Dahlkemper's efforts to allow children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 27.

The media is never interested in covering wedge issues that effect Democrats. A wedge issue is any issue that divides the party. They're always damaging in terms of getting elected or getting legislation passed, because, if there is a resolution on the issue, it is clear one wing has won and another wing has lost, and that causes all the internecine fighting we see all the time on the Republican side of the aisle.

A party's best strategy -- as far as simply acquiring and maintaining political power -- is to obscure these wedge issues, ignore them, finesse them, leave them unresolved, to keep it unclear as possible who has won and who has lost.

And then, only later, once they've accomplished their short-term goals, do they deal with the political fall-out.

It is against a party's interests to see these splits come to the forefront before they've achieved their short-term goals.

Clarity, in other words, hurts in politics. Witness Obama's gauzy, empty campaign of change and hope without many people knowing what that meant. Liberals, leftists, independents and even some Republicans each read those empty words in a different way, each believing Obama would govern as they preferred.

Three of those groups were wrong. Had Obama been clear about his intentions and politics, three of those groups would have known they would be in the Out Group in any Obama presidency, and would have voted differently.

But because the media gave Obama a free pass on remaining utterly obscure, he prevailed.

Now, of course, that is why the media is relentlessly interested in wedge issues in the Republican Party. They want that furious knife-fight-in-a-telephone-booth coming before elections and votes. They want the party to split along angry lines.

On the other hand, they always, always push the stories that divide Democrats into deepest background, playing along perfectly with the Democratic Partys' preferred strategy of delay, de-emphasize, and obscure on these issues.


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