My Whip Count

I appreciate the hard work folks like David Dayen have been doing on health care “whip counts” over the past few weeks. At this point, though, I think it’s probably become pointless. This is one of these situations where now that the vote has been called, the votes will be there to pass the thing. The leadership “doesn’t have the votes” but in this kind of situation you never have the votes until you have the votes.

Monday, Nancy Pelosi told a bunch of us bloggers that she couldn’t say whether or not she had the votes. She said “first you lock the bill down,” then she punched into the palm of her hand, “then you get the votes.” And throughout the meeting she was serene and confident. Which is to say that there’s some critical mass of votes you need, short of a majority, at which point you start the doomsday countdown. Now that the count is underway, you can’t change the bill. So there’s no point in holding out for changing. And you “scale the bill down” or “start over” either. You have a victory, or you have a humiliating defeat. And everyone’s in the same boat. At that point, the votes will materialize.