March 17, 2010

One down, 215 to go

President Obama's full-court press on Congress to pass health care reform scored a big win today when Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich -- a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who voted against the bill because it wasn't progressive enough -- announced he'll vote yes on the latest proposal, even though it's less progressive than the one he voted against.

Score one for presidential persuasion: Obama had been putting the arm on Kucinich for days, ratcheting up the pressure in the last 48 hours and all but daring Kucinich to say he'd vote to kill perhaps the signature item on Obama's agenda.  This entry from the Post blog captures it pretty well:

Obama softly threatens Dennis Kucinich

President Obama just finished enthralling a crowd in Ohio in one of the last acts (one hopes) of his push to pass health-care reform. Rolling up his shirtsleeves, Obama began his speech with a little public arm-twisting, calling out a few of the local notables assembled; and way up at the top of his list was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), in whose district Obama was speaking.
Just in case it wasn’t clear why the congressman, who has criticized Obama from the left on issues such as Afghanistan, got such special mention, it was obvious seconds after Obama mentioned Kucinich’s name. Someone in the crowd screamed, “Vote yes!” The president responded with just a hint of guile, “Did you hear that, Dennis?” Kucinich, of course, is among the liberal House Democrats who might Ralph Nader-esquely vote against health-care reform because it’s not lefty enough for them.
“A couple other members of Congress are here,” Obama continued, making even plainer that Kucinich was being singled out. As the White House is privately putting the hard press on House members to vote for health reform, all of that attention from the president must be flattering -- and one of the softest threats you’ll hear about in politics. 

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