Reid and Obama both know that going for the opt-out is a gamble, and it gives conservative Democrats veto power over the measure – Bayh, Nelson, possibly Lincoln or Conrad. The White House has been planning for quite some time to give Snowe her trigger on the Senate floor and then fix everything in conference (which has risks of its own); they may be reluctant to rethink their strategy, although they should because the situation has improved relative to a month or two ago. Now, because of Obama’s waffling, Reid is waffling too, doing a nose count on the trigger option.
Reid is going to canvas the Blue Dogs this weekend and then make his final choice next week.
Enter Pelosi. She and her whip, Clyburn, are speaking out in favour of the opt-out. The message to Reid and Obama is that if the Senate passes the opt-out, the conference will be a breeze, whereas if they pass the trigger there will be a fight in conference. In other words, the Senate needs to pass opt-out, and it might as well be now, while the momentum is moving that way.
Pelosi needs to tell Reid what Maggie Thatcher told Bush 41 before the Gulf War: “This is no time to go wobbly”.
As I said days ago, if Pelosi and Reid had switched jobs, health reform would be on Obama’s des already.
Maybe she should have that conversation with Obama too.