Left Flabbergasted That Dems Managed to Pass Reform

Who knew Democrats could get things done?

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Did the Democrats really just pass a bill? A controversial bill? That's the not-so-subtle undertone to the plethora of stories dedicated to trying to pinpoint the health care turning point: how on earth did the party of disorganization--famously lampooned in the Will Rogers line--pull this off? Even those on the left are astounded.

  • 'The Often Hapless, Sometimes Hopeless Democrats'  The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson looks to the Democrats' past--as many have--to make the following point: "Obama and Pelosi became a legislative force that Democrats have not seen since Lyndon Johnson."
  • 'We're Not Total Wimps!'  Maureen Dowd devotes her New York Times column to describing the "state of shock" as Democrats discover that they "don't have to sit around and let [themselves] be slapped silly." The key, she argues, is that "when push came to shove, [Obama] shoved (and let Nancy push)." It's a truth of American politics, Dowd says: "You have to sink down into it. You have to stop being cerebral and get your hands dirty. You can fight fear with power."
  • Lesson: Be Assertive  The Politico headlines on Democrats and health care have gone from disastrous to hopeful in a mere two months, says The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz. But "the only real difference between January and March was that the Democrats decided to pass the bill. The party of indecision finally figured out it wanted something, and got it." They need to keep that resolve going forward, because "Americans love success," and "discipline and confidence," such as they showed in the final moments of the health care battle, are the only way to go.
  • Where Did We Get This Guy?  "The last two generations have no model for such a president," gushes The New Republic's Jonathan Chait. "The only two other Democratic presidents of the last four decades are Jimmy Carter, a failure, and Bill Clinton, who enjoyed modest successes but failed in his most significant legislative fight." Thus, "the template of a powerful, historically consequential Democratic president is unfamiliar to many of us. Certainly the Republicans have no real idea how to deal with it."
  • History Didn't Repeat Itself--And Here's Why  Conservative David Frum, too, is thinking back to Clinton, in a much-quoted post that has whipped around the blogosphere at warp speed. Republicans, he argues, were "going for all the marbles," looking to make health care "Obama's Waterloo," just like Clinton's in 1994. What they ignored, though, in trying to go for an even speedier Democratic downfall:
Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.
  • They Won Because, at Last, They Were Willing to Lose TPM's Josh Marshall, in an argument heavily reminiscent of Mario Cuomo, declares that Dems prevailed because they "said to themselves and the country: on this ground we're willing to lose." It was that conviction that both "stiffened their spines and made them credible to the public at large."
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