Obama’s Calm Demeanor, Pelosi’s Firm Stand Helped Propel Health Care Law
The Hill: "President Barack Obama and Democrats missed repeated deadlines, fought back cries of 'death panels' and watched healthcare reform nearly die more than dozen times. Through it all, Obama was the steady captain of the ship, his top aides say, a role the president has played since the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign. The president, through his long campaign and his first 14 months in office, has shown few glimpses into his inner decision-making process, but the image he presents to the country and to the world is one of a calm and steady leader who refuses to get bogged down in day-to-day skirmishes" (Youngman, 3/28).
NPR: "In pushing health care legislation through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi "has earned great praise and admiration from friends and opponents alike - but it comes at a cost" (Seabrook, 3/29).
The San Francisco Chronicle: Pelosi "said in San Francisco on Sunday that she's not worried about Republicans' plans to take over Congress this fall by campaigning for a repeal of the law. Whatever the polls show about Americans' views of the bill overall, voters will welcome provisions such as one that requires insurance companies to provide coverage to all regardless of their health, Pelosi told reporters after a speech to an enthusiastic congregation at Glide Memorial Church. ... Pelosi, who steered the bill through a crucial House vote March 21, has become Republicans' favorite fundraising tool and political pincushion, pictured amid flames on signs at rallies and omnipresent on conservatives' Twitter messages. ... Republican National Chairman Michael Steele told Fox News last week that it was time to 'start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November'" (Egelko, 3/29).
Napa Valley Register/The Washington Post, on Pelosi and her image with a gavel, noting that she used three different gavels at the end of the health care debate: "Since Democrats retook control of the House in January 2007, the gavel hasn't been just a symbol of the speaker's power. It has been a particularly volatile image from the moment she was photographed receiving it from John Boehner. The outgoing Republican majority leader wasn't just yielding power after an electoral thumping, he was yielding it to a woman, the first woman to sit only two heartbeats from the presidency. Pelosi isn't the first to opt for the symbolism of an oversize gavel, and she didn't invent the masculine overtones it seems to carry. ... The gavel symbolizes not just the power to shepherd the legislation, it implies the legislation is well crafted, that the House is building on a solid, considered foundation. It thus lends gravitas to a process that seemed, in the event, a suspenseful, bewildering and sometimes maddening display of improvisation and electoral scrambling" (Kennicott, 3/29).
Politico: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's future political prospects appear tightly linked to health reform. "Just as health care, or 'Obamacare,' as it is derided on the right, hangs over this year's midterm elections, it is also already casting a shadow upon the 2012 presidential contest and its GOP front-runner. What was once thought to be an asset for Romney, his passage as Massachusetts governor of a health care mandate for the state's residents, now poses a potentially serious threat to his White House hopes. The prospect of a larger government role in health care has become so toxic among conservatives that Romney's principal calling card from his Beacon Hill tenure has become something he's now defending, rather than touting" (Martin and Smith, 3/29).
The Washington Post, on protests some lawmakers faced at home: Outside the home of Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, "a few angry protesters wouldn't allow him a full escape from the raw and vitriolic discussions that have embroiled the health-care debate for more than a year. They showed up to decry the freshman congressman's vote for the overhaul, standing in the chilling rain most of the afternoon Sunday holding signs. ... Sunday's gathering, which never included more than three people at a time, was anchored by Jim Berns, a libertarian who has run for Driehaus's seat three times and for the state legislature 10 times. He wore a suit and waved at the congressman's neighbors -- a couple of whom greeted him with a middle finger, others with a thumbs-up." Driehaus was one of the last Democrats to opt to support the health reform bill. His decision was delayed because of abortion funding issues (Thompson, 3/29).
The New York Daily News, on Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY: "Democratic colleagues in Congress are clamoring for him to lend his star power to their campaigns. Cable news networks have him on speed-dial. A grateful House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Weiner her tally sheet for the historic vote that passed one of the health bills. ... With a storied work ethic and a flair for the dramatic, Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens) stood out as one of the most in-your-face defenders of health care reform during the year-plus battle" (Katz, 3/28).