It was a moment of truth for Dennis Kucinich: Would he preserve his progressive purity by voting down the biggest progressive reform of our time?
No. He's changed his mind: He's voting yes on the president's health-care plan.
"This is not the bill I wanted to support," Kucinich said at a Capitol press conference this morning. "However, after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, my wife Elizabeth and close friends, I’ve decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."
Notice how his wife ranks up there with the president and the speaker of the house? The health-care talks in the Kucinich household must've been as weighty as Dennis' high-pressure ride with Obama in Air Force One. The young, striking Mrs. Kucinich doesn't just help her husband by attracting press cameras and coverage. She's become his conscience, an adviser who reminds him what he stands for -- and tells him when compromise isn't a sell-out, but a wise strategy.
"In the past week it has become clear that the vote on the final health care bill will be very close," he said at a 10 a.m. press conference at the Capitol. "I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it, but the bill as it is." (See the Plain Dealer and The Hill for more coverage. Or, read his full remarks here.)
After holding out for government-run health care longer than most anyone, Kucinich has accepted something Sherrod Brown has been reminding progressives for months now: Reform in America is almost always accomplished step by step, not all at once.
"If my vote is to be counted, let it now count for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform," he said today.
At the last moment, on the verge of either making himself irrelevant at a moment of great change or actually scuttling it, Kucinich proved that even he knows how to compromise.