Fifteen years after his own push for reform failed, former President Bill Clinton returned to Capitol Hill to give Democrats a "pep talk" on how to push the health care bill through Congress. At a lunch with Senate Democrats Tuesday, he urged them to "just pass the bill, even if it's not exactly what you want....When you try and fail, the other guys write history," Politico reports. Commentators seem to have high hopes that Clinton can close the deal on health care reform. Here's why:
- He Has Strong Ties to Centrists Domenico Montanaro of MSNBC's First Read says Clinton's relationships with conservative Democrats from Southern states may help him convince the holdouts to vote for the bill.
Clinton has strong ties to the Senate centrists who could very well decide the fate
of the health-care bill in the Senate. Clinton was governor when Ben Nelson served as governor of Nebraska; Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor just happen to represent Clinton’s home state of Arkansas; and Clinton and Joe Lieberman used to be very close personally and ideologically -- before the
Lewinsky scandal. During the 2008 campaign, Clinton seemed to find his
stride campaigning in red America -- in places that are similar
politically to Arkansas, Nebraska, Indiana, etc. Clinton's at his best
when he's giving others political advice, and he excels at framing an
argument better than just about anyone on the political stage.
- Clinton, Communicator Naftali Bendavid
of WSJ's Washington Wire says Clinton has a way with "ordinary
Americans" that few other politicians can match, something that could
help Democrats win on health care. "While his oratorical reputation has
been eclipsed by Obama’s," Bendavid writes, "Clinton was always known
as a top-notch communicator, at his best when speaking about the
problems of ordinary Americans."
- He's Been Waiting 15 Years For This Zeke Turner
of New York Magazine refers to Bill Clinton as the Democratic Party's
"fixer." If anyone can finalize a deal, Turner seems to think it's Clinton.
Bill Clinton is not just a former
president, he is the Democratic Party’s fixer. When Clinton went to
North Korea to trade Kim Jung Il a photo-op for the freedom of two
Current TV reporters, it was just a favor for his old friend Al Gore,
right? Nothing official. Well now White House Chief of Staff Rahm
Emanuel and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have invited Clinton to
lunch with the Senate Democrats tomorrow to get them ready to go to
work for health-care reform. And you know Clinton will bring his a-game
pep talk. He’s been waiting fifteen years for this.
- He's Learned the Lessons At The Washington Post, Ezra Klein says it's likely that "the former president was there to fire up the troops and communicate the lessons of his own failed effort."
- Maybe He Can Talk Some Sense Into the Dems Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars is hopeful Clinton can whip the Democrats in line," but given the level of dissent among Democrats over provisions in the bill like abortion, she's not so sure. "Hopefully the Big Dawg will make them see the political danger
of screwing up this health care bill. Of course, since Sen. Bill Casey
is already hard at work on a Stupak-type bill, I wouldn't count on them
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mgay at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.