Michael Barone

Many observers, including me, thought she wouldn't be able to get so many Democrats to walk the plank. We seem to have been right about the plank: No Democrats are running ads bragging about Obamacare, and several are running ads bragging about voting against it.

But we were wrong about Pelosi's skill and determination. And whatever you or the majority of American voters thinks of Obamacare, Pelosi believes that it was a step forward for America -- maybe one worth putting the Democratic majority at risk.

Still, Pelosi's strategy can be questioned, particularly her decision -- congenial to her gentry liberal base in San Francisco -- to advance cap-and-trade before health care or extension of tax cuts on the non-rich.

She went to some trouble to do so, setting up a special committee in 2007 to bypass Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell on the issue and then acquiescing in (if not encouraging) the 2008 post-election ouster of Dingell by cap-and-trade backer Henry Waxman.

Pelosi has refused to act on immigration (a Hispanic, not gentry liberal, issue) and card check (a union issue) until the Senate does so. But she pushed cap-and-trade forward and pressed members from coal-dependent districts to cast tough votes for it -- even though its prospects in the Senate depended on the legislative skills of Barbara Boxer and the willingness of some two dozen Democrats whose states would be hit by high energy costs to support it.

Pushing cap-and-trade in June 2009 meant putting off the health care vote until later. The scramble to pass health care in early 2010 meant putting off a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts on those under the dreaded $250,000 until summer, until September, when the wilting recovery had siphoned off the needed votes.

So you move to punt -- er, adjourn. Enoch Powell understood.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM