Obama-Care Comeback 'A Legislative Lazarus Tale'

The Times gets biblical on the eve of Sunday's successful House vote in passing Obama-care.

As prospects brightened for passage of Obama-care (a feeling justified by Sunday's House passage of the legislation), Sunday morning dawned with a front-page take on the "legislative Lazarus tale" of Obama-care. That Biblical allusion comes a week after the Times ran a bizarre photo of Obama as Christian icon.

From Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse's long report, "The Long Road Back."

Now, in what could become a legislative Lazarus tale - or at least the most riveting cliffhanger of the Obama presidency so far - the House is set to take up the health bill for what Democrats hope will be the last time.

For Mr. Obama, who vowed earlier this month to do "everything in my power" to see the bill to fruition, the measure's passage would be an extraordinary triumph. Its defeat could weaken him for the rest of his days in office.

The Times again leaned on the Obama White House's favorite political prop, the sad case of Natoma Canfield, who could no longer afford her health insurance after being treated for cancer for 16 years:

And one day after the meeting, the White House deployed its secret weapon: Ms. Canfield.

In a meeting with insurance executives, Mr. Obama read her letter aloud. In seven poignant paragraphs, she wrote that 16 years after being treated for cancer, she could no longer afford her health insurance and was terrified she would get sick and lose the house her parents built.

From studying polls and focus groups, the White House knew public opinion seemed to be slowly shifting in favor of some elements of the bill. And Ms. Canfield's story allowed Mr. Obama to personalize the debate, reminding Americans that it was not just about numbers, but lives. The president and his communications team had no way of knowing then that Ms. Canfield would soon receive a new diagnosis, leukemia.

The White House shared her letter with the news media. Within an hour, camera crews were at Ms. Canfield's door.

The Times cited the "moral" vision of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama on health legislation:

Like Mr. Obama, Ms. Pelosi regards passing health legislation as a moral imperative, and sees herself making history if she can get it done.

Many Democrats say her upbeat, unflappable attitude buoyed them through the darkest days after Massachusetts. But faced with a member she considered intransigent, she could be "scary tough," as one person involved in her strategy sessions said. She would stand up, her high heels and imperiousness exaggerating her height, and talk sternly.