Can Obama and Kucinich Mend Liberal Rift?

Kucinich is apparently ready to flip his health care vote

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Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a liberal Democrat who has twice campaigned for president as the leftmost candidate, voted against the original health care reform bill. Saying that it did not go far enough, Kucinich expressed plans to vote against reform again when it comes to the House, likely this week. But with the stakes higher and vote counts closer than ever, President Obama traveled to Ohio on Monday where he called publicly for Kucinich's vote. It looks to have worked: Newsweek's Howard Fineman reported on MSNBC Tuesday night that Kucinich will vote yes, which the Congressman is expected to confirm at a 10 a.m. press conference today. What does this strange political dance between a liberal Democratic president and a more-liberal Democratic Congressman mean for health care, for the party, and for Kucinich?

  • 'Momentum' For Wavering Dems?  Hot Air's Allahpundit is skeptical. "The question is whether this is being coordinated with the White House to create momentum among holdouts and whether anything [Kucinich] says is capable of creating momentum. It’s not like he’s some bellwether for Blue Dog sentiment; he’s a single-payer advocate who needs to be convinced that the best way there is incrementally, with this as the first step. Why a Kucinich flip would sway, say, Jason Altmire is unclear to me, but momentum is momentum, I guess."
  • Pragmatic Compromise, For Once  Balloon Juice commenter Redshift praises Kucinich for choosing governance over idealism. "I generally agree that Kucinich advocates for positions that he thinks are best for the American people, but that’s not the same as doing what’s best. The job of politicians is not just to hold principled stands that are too pure to ever get implemented. It’s to get things done for the people you serve, to make things better even if you can’t get what you know would be best."
  • Reveals 'Rift' In NetRoots Left  BuzzFlash's Mark Karlin sighs, "Sadly for the progressive movement, we are split now between the social idealists and the pragmatists." By infighting over things like Kucinich's vote, instead of unifying in opposition to the GOP, Karlin says liberal Internet activists are marginalizing themselves and reducing their collective influence.
  • Betraying The Left  Hard-left liberal Jane Hamsher, who opposes health care reform, rebukes Kucinich. His promise to vote "no" was, for Hamsher, a show of important defiance to Obama's compromises. "A thousand people have donated over $16,000 to Dennis since yesterday to thank him for standing up for what he believes in. We’ll be asking him to return it."
  • Kucinich Could Bring In Activists  Open Left's Chris Bowers asks, "While Kucinich is the last House Progressive holding out on the bill, and thus can't bring anymore votes with him, it is worth asking whether his support brings along any progressive activists." Some liberal activist groups, opposing Obama's compromises, have caused political problems for the White House.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.