President Obama’s health care bill has been passed by the House of Representatives 219-212. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill. And now the real battle begins. As Winston Churchill observed: Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Bill Clinton famously tried, and failed, to get a health care bill passed in his first term in office. Despite this setback, Slick Willie still managed to win a second term, but it must be noted that the country wasn’t then facing anything remotely resembling its current woes. Obama has now achieved where Clinton failed, but if the Republicans can cook up enough procedural gimmicks to delay implementation in the hopes that they can make sufficient gains in the mid-term elections to undo the plan, then Obama will be seen by a lot of the electorate as ineffectual, and could well end up as a one-term president. (This scenario assumes that before 2012 the Republicans will be able to identify a candidate whose appeal extends beyond the Tea Party fringe, but stranger things have happened. Hell, Northern Iowa beat Kansas!)
It might not be immediately apparent, but the US-facing operators of the online gambling industry have a definite stake in this fight, and not just because affordable health care is a concern for every bookmaker who comes close to having a coronary when NFL kickers make last-second field goals. It would be a wild overstatement to say that Democrats are wholeheartedly in favor of online gambling, but they are demonstrably less wedded to the notion that gambling represents a moral scourge than are Republicans. Republicans have expended so much time, energy and rhetoric on demonizing online gambling that they have left themselves no wiggle room on the issue. They may love to talk up their supposed fiscal bona fides, but they consistently refuse to acknowledge the badly needed revenues that could be theirs if they agreed to examine a legislate-and-tax proposal. And why? Because gambling is evil and every time you pagans gamble online, God kills a kitten, that’s why.
Democrats, on the other hand, are in a far more flexible position to pull the discussion away from the overly emotional precipice and back onto the field of logic. With the successful passage of his health care bill, Obama’s personal stock may rise, giving him a better shot at completing the full eight years in office for which he’s eligible. Eight years is an eternity in political terms, and attitudes can shift dramatically during that spell, especially when there’s someone at the top advocating from a position based on reason, not dogma.