Health Care Bill One Vote Closer, America Too Distracted with Other Cliffhanger Result to Care

Upset City! That's one less holdout to rough up in the back rooms of Capital Hill: Rep. John Boccieri (D) of Ohio has voted for the health care bill, putting Americans one step closer to health care that will supposedly piss them off less. Unfortunately, it's happening while they wait for the outcome of another more suspenseful, wider-reaching, intensely dividing result that enraptures almost every political constituency in this country.

Politico opens up their report of Boccieri's vote as "putting his political future on the line," which sound like an exciting, compelling storyline! He's a "vulnerable first termer" who hails from "a manufacturing-heavy, conservative-minded" constituency, which sounds a lot like the kind of people who rallied against health care, thinking that Obama's "health care" package essentially adds up to our government killing you in the face. But someone must've given him some kind of backroom protection, or promise, or assurance that this is just the beginning kid. Yes, the beginning of you kowtowing to your party's political pressure when you're among the last holdouts. Does a stand mean anything if you don't stand it out? Nobody cares. Because this thing's locked down. Almost:

But all indications are that they still have a few more votes to go -- even though two top Democratic leaders said today they believe they now have the votes.

The Democrats have a few more votes to round up, which means they have to find the Republicans more desperate for publicity than they are to curry favor with party leadership, or the Republicans who might defect, or the Democrats who've just been assholes up until this point. Unfortunately, they're going to have a hard time doing it, because every constituency in America is watching March Madness right now, the beautiful part of which is: March Madness reaches its tentacles everywhere. Not everyone has a professional sports team near their town, not everyone cares about basketball. But the suspense of a single elimination tournament, replete with massive underdog stories, and the diaspora-like nature of colleges in general will leave politicians with a difficult time trying to convince their constituents of basically anything else while this is happening. Did you know that Murray State (13) beat Vanderbilt (4)? St. Mary's (10) upset Richmond (7)! ODU (11) beat Nortre Dame (6)! Most people don't even know where the hell ODU is! I don't. See?

America's into March Madness. It's compelling. It's suspenseful. Though really, the hardest sell for health care when going up against it probably has something to do with the fact that everyone in America might not know where ODU is, or who they are, but they know who wins what at the end. Which is so, so much more than can be said about the health care bill at this point.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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