The revisionist history writers were busy last week. The health care law was "sweeping" and "historic." Mrs. Pelosi was the "most powerful speaker in history," and President Obama had cemented his place as "one of the most consequential presidents." The press, in short, echoed Vice President Biden's view on the importance of the legislation.
This narrative is fantasy. We are asked to believe that the Democrats achieved a glorious victory when they were able to squeak to passage with only four votes to spare. If Bart Stupak and his colleagues had not sacrificed their consciences and gotten on board, then the speaker would have been impotent and the president a failure? To quote Vice President Biden again, "If we were unable to move the ball on this issue . . . we would have been done, absolutely done."
To declare such a close contest -- during which the president was reduced to begging Democratic members to save his presidency -- to be a triumph is reminiscent of Pyrrhus of Epirus. He fought and defeated Rome, but at such a cost in casualties that upon hearing of his success, he said, "One more such victory and I shall return to Epirus alone."
In fact, though the Democrats achieved a narrow victory by passing their health care behemoth, they lost the argument. Despite some 58 presidential speeches, vigorous press cheerleading, and more than a year of ceaseless lobbying, the Obama administration and the Democrats were never able to convince a majority of the American people to believe in a fairy tale. Voters were never persuaded that the government that brought us a $107 trillion unfunded liability in the Medicare and Social Security programs was going to provide subsidized coverage to 32 million uninsured; create 4 million new jobs; produce, as Mrs. Pelosi put it, "a healthier America through prevention, wellness, and innovation;" make insurance more affordable for the middle class; and "save the taxpayers $1.3 trillion."