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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Thank You, Madam Speaker (and Open Thread)

I think this morning is the first quiet time I’ve had to really sit down and think about our achievement on HCR Sunday evening. That night, I was too caught up in the thrill of victory to think about how we got there. Monday night I was out of town chaperoning my kid brother at an eardrum-shattering post-hardcore concert, and afterward, I spent most of Tuesday grappling with the epiphany that I feel much older in the wake of being amidst all those rowdy, loud, carefree kids than I’ve ever felt before… So it wasn’t until this morning that I got a chance to really sit in my home in solitude and quiet and mull over the process and the implications of this accomplishment. I am awash with emotions, and the only thing to which I can liken this feeling is the way I felt in the days and weeks following the 2008 elections. Yet in some ways, for me, this is a more stunning triumph still — I have, after all, been an advocate of health care reform for far longer than I’ve been a supporter of Barack Obama.

But as my mind wanders, the feeling I keep coming back to is gratitude. There are a lot of people to thank — a lot of people who had a hand in the passage of HCR. But the name that stands out foremost is Nancy Pelosi.

I could follow my usual pattern here and spend the next few paragraphs rambling at length about the process and the obstacles Speaker Pelosi faced. Instead, I’ll just get on with it and say the one thing I really want to say:

Thank you, Nancy Pelosi.

When everyone else was fumbling, she kept it together. When everyone else faltered, she held fast to the promise of comprehensive health care reform. This bill may not have been all that we wanted — the victory may be bittersweet — but I believe that in time we will find that it was enough. A start — a foundation — which, once the debate got underway, was really all we could hope for. And we would not have that foundation upon which to build without Speaker Pelosi. I know it’s the presidents who get most of the credit for legislative achievements during their terms, but I hope history remembers the significance of what Pelosi has done. Whether the books remember it or not, though, we will.

There have been some good pieces written the last couple of days about Pelosi’s contribution and the importance of the work she’s done, and I’m sure many more will be written in the coming weeks. Here are a couple:

Healthcare Reform? Thank Nancy Pelosi

This is Pelosi’s Victory

As an aside, Friday is Pelosi’s 70th birthday. Brainwrap over on dKos has started a campaign to have a bunch of roses delivered to her that day. It’s just $10 to send three roses, and the details of how to do so are in this diary. Looks to be pretty simple and would be a nice way to show our gratitude. At the moment, the economy and job market are such that even $10 is beyond my means. That diary also includes a brief list of other ways to thank her:

Other ways to say thanks:

Join the facebook group wishing Speaker Pelosi a happy birthday and thanking her for healthcare reform. (Must log in after following link.)

Write her a thank you note.

Donate money to the Speaker.

Donate to other candidates that supported HCR.  If you’re not sure who needs support this diary will help.

Daily Kos

Since I am broke and happen to think that facebook is the spawn of satan (figuratively speaking, of course), I will just be writing. A paltry thing maybe, but I think we should show our gratitude in whatever ways we can.

Thank you, Madam Speaker — for all your work — and for keeping your word to the American people:

“We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people, for their own personal health and economic security, and for the important role that it will play in reducing the deficit.”

Nancy Pelosi, January 28, 2010


  1. Shaun Appleby

    And worth noting that while she was the subject of considerable derision and even ill-mannered vitriol from Left Blogistan earlier in the piece that has pretty much ceased altogether  Just goes to show another way of saying ‘thank you’ is to simply STFU when you’ve been proven wrong.

  2. Quite a Speaker. Kudos to Nancy. Sure to go down as one of the most effective Speakers of the House in our history. She is now on a level with Tip O’Neil and Sam Rayburn. I bet there is a Pelosi Building in D.C. in the not too distant future.

  3. She’s the youngest looking 70 I’ve seen (she’s my mom’s age, within a few months).

    Good work, Nancy.  I don’t have to see eye-to-eye with you on everything to recognize a helluva job done well, and I wouldn’t have taken your job in the past few months for all the tea in China.

    Thanks for saving our government from years of hopeless gridlock.  Hard to imagine many who could honestly claim the same level of accomplishment in a lifetime.

  4. HappyinVT

    Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick:

    Bush is a well-known germaphobe; he once offered then-Senator Obama some hand sanitizer after they shook hands but come on!

  5. HappyinVT

    A new Democratic National Committee radio ad attacks Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the Republican nominee for President Obama’s former Senate seat, for voting against reform — and in the course of the attack, the ad co-opts a long-running GOP talking point against government involvement in health care.

    “Now Mark Kirk is vowing to repeal reform – and put the insurance industry back in charge of your health care,” the announcer says. “Call Congressman Mark Kirk at (202) 225-3121 and tell him – hands off our health care.”

    audio available here

  6. HappyinVT

    I don’t know much about Sen. Reid but it looks to me like he’s visibly angry.  I also don’t know what, if anything, brought this on specifically; it may simply be his speech ending the debate on the reconciliation bill.

  7. HappyinVT

    (to borrow a phrase from Rachel Maddow).

    President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, have broken through a logjam in their arms control negotiations and expect to sign a new treaty in Prague next month that would slash American and Russian nuclear arsenals, officials from both nations said Wednesday.


    The two sides have discussed a signing ceremony in Prague in early April, marking the anniversary of the first meeting between the two presidents and of Mr. Obama’s speech outlining his vision for eventually eliminating nuclear weapons.


    The treaty would require each side to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to roughly 1,600, down from 2,200 now, officials have said. It would also oblige each side to reduce its arsenal of strategic bombers and land- and sea-based missiles to 800, half the old limit of 1,600.


    If the two sides do finalize the treaty and sign it in Prague in early April, it would boost the momentum for the broader nuclear nonproliferation summit that Mr. Obama is scheduled to convene in Washington on April 12 and 13. The United States and Russia could go to that summit, and a later meeting on the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, with tangible progress to show in meeting their disarmament goals.

    Looks like we’ve got a head of steam on many fronts all of a sudden.  Could Israeli/Palestinian peace be far behind.  Yeah, I know, let’s not get carried away particularly since more building in East Jerusalem was approved while Netanyahu was meeting with Obama yesterday.

  8. HappyinVT

    The Clintons and health care: It was their issue, their passion and their failure in the ’90s. This time around, both President and Secretary Clinton worked behind the scenes to get it done, giving pep talks and campaign speeches and, in Hillary’s case, calling one stubborn Democrat as the clock ticked down to Sunday’s vote.


    The White House kept her in the bullpen, she told CNN in February, taking the mound only when needed.

    “When I am asked, I am very happy to respond. I mean, it’s not anything I have direct responsibility for, but I have had a number of conversations and both in the White House and on the Hill and with others who are playing a constructive role,” she said. The New York Times also reported that she made calls to on-the-fence lawmakers as the Senate neared its Christmas Eve vote.


  9. HappyinVT

    From today’s briefing:

    Q    McCain said he’s going to oppose everything.

    MR. GIBBS:  Well, yes, I find it curious that not getting your way on one thing means you’ve decided to take your toys and go home.  I don’t think — it doesn’t work well for my six-year-old; I doubt it works well in the United States Senate, because we have issues that are important for his constituents and for all of America.

    Look, again, when it comes to financial reform people are going to have an opportunity to weigh in on behalf of the banks or on behalf of consumers.  And I’ll let their vote on that dictate which side of that ledger they feel most comfortable on.

    Q    Are you comparing McCain to a six-year-old?

    MR. GIBBS:  I’m saying that I think the notion that if you don’t get what you want you’re not going to cooperate on anything else is not a whole lot different than I might hear from a six-year-old.

    Read more:

    This apparently followed a back and forth between David Axelrod and a McCain spokeswoman:

    On CNN’s Situation Room Monday afternoon, White House aide David Axelrod was asked about Sen. John McCain’s prediction that Democrats will face “a very heavy price to pay” for passing health care reform. Axelrod responded with a rhetorical dagger.

    Well, look, I — I respect Senator McCain, and I remember when he was a strong independent voice in the United States Senate.  Last year, he had the most partisan voting record in the United States Senate.  He’s got a challenge from the right wing of his own party right now.  I understand that, too. But when he said today that we’re not going to get anymore cooperation from the Republican party this year in the United States Senate because they’re unhappy about this health insurance reform, I think that’s unfortunate.  That’s better for the sandlot than it is for governance.  We need to work together to solve problems.

    McCain’s spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, immediately responded with a statement attacking President Obama.

    Senator John McCain will always stand on the side of the American people. Get used to it, Mr. Axelrod, that’s what strong, independent members do – you’d know that if you had ever worked for one.

    It’s not every day that a senator calls the president weak, or that a senior aide to the president effectively calls a senator a sellout.

    Read more:

  10. HappyinVT

    An analysis of President Obama’s handwriting based on his very cool signature.

    Obama’s capital O is most unique in that it is split down the middle, creating 2 halves to a whole. He is able to give equal and fair attention to seemingly diabolically opposing sides, while keeping them unified and intact.


    The slant of his signature reveals someone who would be a rock in an emergency, make a good leader and manager and will make decisions based on facts over emotion and impulse.

    Whenever there are quite large capital letters to the first and last name, it reveals the writer has healthy ego, a strong sense of self.

  11. HappyinVT

    but only to point out what happens to be some inequity in the coverage of his serial dalliances versus other folks.

    We’ve had elected public officials admit to affairs, a couple of them, rightly or wrongly, illegally.  I’m looking at Vitter and Spitzer.  Spitzer made a statement, resigned and moved on.  Vitter made a statement, didn’t resign, and moved on (except for being the butt of diaper jokes).

    Hollywood types cheat all the time (anyone old enough to remember Liz Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Mike Fisher for a hot and heavy example?).  The latest known case involves Jesse James, husband of Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock.  Apparently, the count on his mistress-meter is 2.

    So, will Jesse be publicly flogged for months on end?  Will the media demand that he stand and answer all their questions before he can do whatever it is he does (build motorcycles on tv?)?  Are Letterman and Leno making nightly jokes?  Will SNL do a skit?

    I guess it is that we expect/accept bad behavior from some people but not others.  John Daly (goofy golfer who has had a host of problems) has been linked to all kinds of trouble but that’s okay ’cause he’s John Daly and we’ve grown to expect such from him.  (I was a bit redundant in that sentence but I like it so I’m leaving it.)  Tiger’s playing at Augusta.  I’ll be rooting loudly for him to win; I chose him on my best ball ESPN fantasy game.  It’s his golf I care about; it’s Vitter’s policies I care about (and hate).  Not a cycle fan so I can’t say anything about Jesse James (is that even his real name or is someone into the “outlaw” type?)

    I don’t know how I’m ranting about this but it’s been bugging me for a few days so I chose (while I’m bored still at work) to vent.  So there.

  12. HappyinVT

    Buoyed by passage of landmark health care legislation, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress said Wednesday that an overhaul of financial regulations was the next legislative priority.


    “When we come back from recess, the No. 1 issue for the U.S. Congress will be this bill in the United States Senate,” Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said after meeting at the White House with President Obama.


    Mr. Dodd’s committee sent the bill to the full Senate on Monday on a party-line vote, after Republicans decided it would be better to bring their amendments to the floor of the Senate and not try to hold up the bill in committee.


    Mr. [Bob] Corker, who had negotiated with Mr. Dodd after an earlier round of talks between Mr. Dodd and the top Republican on the committee, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, fell apart, said in a statement that “our hand has been weakened now that the bill has left the committee on a party-line vote,” calling it “a strategic error.”

    The comments were an implicit criticism of Mr. Shelby, who met with Republican members of the committee in the afternoon to plan strategy.

    I’d like to see Republicans take to the Senate floor and argue in favor of the banks and other financial institutions; or argue against a Consumer Protection Agency.  Sounds like a winning strategy to me.  Not.

  13. HappyinVT

    Speaking to the Huffington Post on Tuesday, Wyden discussed — for one of the first times in public — legislative language he authored which “allows a state to go out and do its own bill, including having no individual mandate.”

    It’s called the “Empowering States to be Innovative” amendment. And it would, quite literally, give states the right to set up their own health care system — with or without an individual mandate or, for that matter, with or without a public option — provided that, as Wyden puts it, “they can meet the coverage requirements of the bill.”


    The provision actually was taken directly from Wyden’s Healthy Americans Act — the far-more innovative health care reform legislation he authored with Republican co-sponsors. In that bill there is also an individual mandate that would require Americans to purchase insurance coverage. But states that found the mandate objectionable could simply create and insert a new system in its place. All it would require is applying for a waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services, which has a 180-day window to confirm or deny such a waiver.

    Not sure why no one else is pointing this out unless it’s to make certain people look stupid(er).

  14. HappyinVT

    The First Bees are the knees:

    First beekeeper Charlie Brandts tells us that despite a serious mite infestation last year, the lone hive some 20 yards from the garden survived the harsh winter, and the bees are already starting to haul pollen in from the South Lawn. “It’s doing very well; it’s in a good site,” says Brandts, a hobby beekeeper and White House carpenter.

  15. HappyinVT

    the vote-o-rama in the Senate is past amendment #19 with all of them going down to defeat.  Surprise, surprise.

    Ben Nelson has voted with the Republicans almost, if not every, time.  Surprise, surprise.

    They may vote on the bill as early as tomorrow.

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