I question the timing.
Yesterday SurveyUSA released a poll showing Freshman Democrat Steve Driehaus (bad Steve) trailing former Representative and current challenger Steve Chabot (good Steve) by 17 points. Is it coincidence that on the very day that poll was released, Driehaus placed himself firmly and clearly in the Bart Stupak camp when it comes to abortion funding in the health care rationing bill?
Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus said he will oppose any version of health care reform legislation that doesn't clearly prohibit federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.
"I believe in clarity and simplicity, and we should make it simple and clear that taxpayer funds aren't going to abortion coverage," said Driehaus, an anti-abortion Catholic from West Price Hill...
Driehaus said other differences between the House and Senate bills also need resolving, including proposals on taxes and fees, a proposed government-run "public" health insurance option, and whether health care exchanges would be state-based or federal.
"At this point in the process, there are tough decisions that need to be hashed out by those willing to support the legislation," he said.
Bart Stupak has said that he represents 10-12 pro-life Democrats who will vote to kill any health care overhaul that does not include his language against abortion-funding. Driehaus has given himself little wiggle room.
Politically, he's probably doing the smart thing. Democrats who have already ruled out support for the health care overhaul are seeing little pressure and little public attention; their intentions are already clear. If Driehaus wants to avoid twisting in the wind while leaders hash out details of the bill, his best bet is to declare his conditions clearly now. In that way, no one will be surprised or disappointed when he tells them 'no' down the road.
Update: Commenters point out what I probably should have made clear: Driehaus voted for the bill in the House the first time, and took a lot of heat for the vote in his district. One wonders if more Democrats will be tempted to insist on the Stupak language as a way either to kill the bill or to justify a 'no' vote that seems even more suicidal than it did a few months ago.