I get the sense that very few people are non-plussed by the passage of President Obama's healthcare reform bill last night--you are either enthusiastically happy with the new bill or vociferously unhappy with it. Some mildly-interelated thoughts for both camps:
* As a political matter this was a destabilizing act. Passing a gargantuan piece of legislation with permanent consequences for the country using only the support of one party (and against bipartisan opposition) against significant popular unhappiness with the legislation will have large political consequences, both immediate and long-term.
Seats that were safe will not be. Candidates who are not ready for prime-time will find themselves winning the political lottery. ObamaCare will destabilize the political environment in the same way the Iraq war did, upsetting coalitions, elevating new figures, and dooming once solid-seeming politicians on all sides.
* No Democratic politician can any longer credibly claim to be anti-abortion. This is particularly worrisome because once abortion becomes a purely party-driven issue (as opposed to a mostly party-driven issue) it will become even harder to find common ground of the "safe, legal, and rare" variety. By necessity Democrats will cease to be pro-choice and become objectively pro-abortion.
* For people who like to think of themselves in ideological, rather than party-based, political terms, ObamaCare is a hard lesson. When push comes to shove, political parties matter, quite a bit. Any Republican who, say, voted for Jim Webb as a sensible, hard-nosed Democrat over George Allen, a bumbling, embarrassment of a Republican, is now confronted with the stern truth about the power of parties. To paraphrase the great Midge Decter, at the end of the day you have to join the side you're on.
* At the same time, George W. Bush deserves at least some small sliver of credit for ObamaCare. He was so careless with the final term of his presidency, so completely uninterested in the fate of the Republican party aprés moi, that he helped Democrats to the Congressional majorities which made this possible.
6 hours ago