Here’s a shrewd point from Monica Potts about retiring Rep Bart Stupak’s self-inflicted political wounds:
The problem is, once you use anti-abortion rhetoric to criticize the health-care bill, the legislation’s actual provisions on abortion — that women would have to use their own money to buy abortion-riders because federal subsidies can’t be used to pay for abortions, so plans in the exchanges can’t offer them — don’t matter. For voters who do not support abortion rights, the bill is forever associated with abortion, and Stupak played a role in that. Since he ultimately voted for the bill, it was inevitable that he would be branded a sell-out.
Stupak stirred up enough trouble for his party during the health-care fight. Now, as the New York Times reports, the larger problem for Democrats will be keeping that seat in their hands.
If Stupak had just accepted that the original compromise language left the Hyde Amendment rules in place—which it did—then he would have made fewer enemies on the left and fewer enemies on the right. But by first elevating the salience of the abortion issue, then pro-choice activists, then alienating anti-abortion activists, he wound up in a very messy situation essentially of his own devising.