Why Stupak Matters


A reader writes:

I ran Bart Stupak's first re-election campaign in 1994, though I have only seen him once or twice since as my path led me out of politics and into corporate law. He's a protege of Rep. John Dingell, who has championed health care reform for half a century, a supporter of the labor movement, and a compassionate man.  He's both a good Democrat and a good Catholic.  He's a former state trooper and small town lawyer with a firm set of principles by which he lives his life. I suspect he's become more religious as age and life's tragedies have battered him and his family, but he could not be blind to the struggles of his friends and constituents in his rural, relatively poor Northern Michigan district.

There's nothing surprising about Bart's coming around to vote "yes."  He's a shrewd man -- a lawyer -- and I suspect the Executive Order solution was in the works for weeks, if not months.  And the timing was, quite simply, exquisite.

Bart's objections were maddening, but principled.  He conducted himself with dignity and firmness, never with vitriol.  His solution is imperfect, but reasonable.  I disagree with him on many issues, including abortion (how a liberal gay man found himself in Menominee, Michigan working for a pro-life, pro-gun candidate is a long story...), but Bart is, at heart, a decent man.  I was proud of him today.

And. The. Damn. Bill. Is. Passed.

Another writes:

A lot of people wanted Obama to "throw Stupak under the bus," but he didn't.  Obama won over Stupak.  He's a fucking genius.


Other than the sheer weight of this historic health-care moment, something even more significant may have transpired.  The Democratic party now is no longer the pro-abortion/pro-choice party, but the pro-life party as well.  Stupak will share the hero of the decade title with Obama for a while, and he's going to push into the public sphere the notion that pro-life matters for Democrats.

(Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) announces that he and other anti-abortion Democrats struck a deal with the White House and that President Barack Obama will sign an executive order guaranteeing no federal funding for abortion during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol March 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. Stupak said that with the support of the anti-abortion Democrats the health care reform legislation will pass the House of Representatives today. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)