Remember when Democrats mocked Jim DeMint for calling ObamaCare the President’s “Waterloo”? Apparently, that’s stopped being a bug and is now a feature, at least according to Barack Obama. In a pitch aimed at convincing skeptical members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to back the Senate version of the bill, Obama told them that the “fate of his presidency” depended on winning this vote:
President Barack Obama had exhausted most of his health care reform arguments with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during a White House meeting last Thursday when he made a more personal pitch that resonated with many skeptics in the room.
One caucus member told POLITICO that Obama won him over by “essentially [saying] that the fate of his presidency” hinged on this week’s health reform vote in the House. The member, who requested anonymity, likened Obama’s remarks to an earlier meeting with progressives when the president said a victory was necessary to keep him “strong” for the next three years of his term.
Another caucus member, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), said, “We went in there already knowing his presidency would be weakened if this thing went down, but the president clearly reinforced the impression the presidency would be damaged by a loss.” …
White House officials said Obama’s recent remarks aren’t intended to personalize the debate or rally undecided Democratic members with an egocentric, “win one for Barry” message. They said Obama’s point is to hammer home the idea that all Democrats would benefit from a health care win and that the party’s larger policy agenda would be damaged if the president were to lose.
For what it’s worth, the Waterloo talk is overblown — by both sides. We don’t have a parliamentary system in the US; the executive does not face votes of no confidence by the legislature. The President is always relevant to political debate, thanks to the power of the veto, as Bill Clinton proved in the collapse of his own takeover of the health-care sector in 1994.
The burning of political capital in the cause is really more of an issue regardless of whether the bill passes or not. Obama will have a job after November; many of the people whose arms he’s twisting will not, thanks to this bill and the sleazy manner in which Democrats have pushed it. The question of a strong Presidency should really focus on whether Obama will have the votes in the next two years to get anything done in Congress, and whether House and Senate Democrats who are looking at electoral catastrophe in November will go along with anything else left this year on the presidential agenda. He’s used up all of his political chits on this initiative, no matter what its outcome.
But since Obama has adopted the Waterloo meme for his sales pitch, why not provide the theme music? ABBA just got selected for nomination into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here’s their debut at the Eurovision contest in 1974: