On Jan. 20, Barack Obama began a race against time. The White House knew its liberal agenda would prove unpopular in many parts of the country represented by Democrats. So long as the president looked strong, those Blue Dogs and freshmen and swing-state senators would stick. Show them any sign of weakness, however, and rattled Dems would begin to care more about their own re-elections than they did their president.

Tuesday, the White House hit that tipping point…

The White House and the congressional leadership saw this coming, and it is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is force-marching her health bill to a vote tomorrow. She’s not about to give her members time to absorb the ugly results, or to be further rattled by next week’s Veteran’s Day break, when they go home for a repeat of the August furies. If not now, she knows, maybe never.

Look for it, nonetheless, to be a squeaker. A lot of Democrats are getting a sneaky suspicion Mrs. Pelosi is willing to sacrifice their seats on the altar of liberal government health care. Combined with the election results and Mr. Obama’s falling poll numbers, this is no recipe for loyalty. Hello, tipping point. Hello, even crazier Washington.