As Allahpundit predicted last night, Dennis Kucinich didn’t call a press conference today just to reaffirm his opposition to a bill that contains almost nothing of what he wants. Greg Sargent confirms the inevitable for the Plumline:
In a big get for House Dems, Dennis Kucinich just made it official: He’s voting for the Senate bill, making him the first member to go on record fliping his vote from No to Yes.
“In the past week it’s become clear that the vote on the final bill will be very close,” Kucinich, who voted No last time because of the lack of the public option, said at a presser moments ago. He acknowleged that he’d be voting “not on the bill as I would like to see it, but as it is.”
“However, after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi” and others, Kucinich said, “I’ve decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation.”
Kucinich’s stance was being closely watched by both sides, partly as a test of President Obama’s ability to corral the support of reluctant Dems. Obama wooed him directly with a lift on Air Force One and gave a big health care speech in his district earlier this week.
How big is this get? It depends on how influential Kucinich is with his caucus. The man runs for President on a regular basis and manages to get little draft among Democrats except as a curiosity, although he does have the childrens-book character vote locked.
Obviously, having one former no vote swing to yes doesn’t mean Nancy Pelosi can pass the bill. It does, however, create a sense of momentum. Kucinich, as one of the most loony of the progressive caucus, provides cover for those progressives more connected to reality to follow suit and switch their votes to yes. Despite Kucinich’s insistence that Barack Obama didn’t offer him any deal to convert, other Democrats may decide it’s better to be on board and get something rather than end up empty-handed on the losing end of the vote anyway.
On the other hand, Blue Dog moderates who already don’t want to be linked to Nancy Pelosi in upcoming midterms may find being linked to Kucinich even less palatable. We’ll see. In this case, the real test may not be Kucinich’s switch but who will be the first to follow him.