The Margolies-Mezvinsky story
Watching congressmen kick and scrape and claw their way to reelection, you'd think something really terrible happens to them if they lose. Maybe they're deported. Or executed. Or maybe their family has to bear the winner's campaign debts. Whatever it is, they sure act like it's awful.
Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky is one of history's more famous congressional losers. Elected in 1992 to represent a heavily Republican area of Pennsylvania, she was summarily tossed out in 1994, ostensibly for providing President Bill Clinton with the final vote on his tax-hiking budget. Today, freshmen congressmen are told "We don't want to Margolies-Mezvinsky you." But in a Washington Post op-ed today, Margolies-Mezvinsky impolitely questions the consensus history of her career.
So it is with the perspective of having spent nearly two decades living with your worst political nightmare that I urge you to vote for health-care reform this week. Here are three things to keep in mind if you fear being Margolies-Mezvinskied this fall:
While it is easy to say my balanced-budget vote cost me reelection, that assumes the line of history that followed the bill's passage. Had I voted against it, the bill wouldn't have passed, the Republican opposition would have been emboldened, the Clinton presidency would have moved into a tailspin ... and all of this could have just as easily led to my undoing.
Simply put, you could be Margolies-Mezvinskied whether you vote with or against President Obama. You will be assailed no matter how you vote this week. And this job isn't supposed to be easy. So cast the vote that you won't regret in 18 years.
Indeed. Meanwhile, Margolies-Mezvinsky is doing all right. Her bio line says she's "a senior fellow at the Fels Institute of Government and is president of Women's Campaign International." That sounds pretty good. And her son, as it turns out, is engaged to marry Chelsea Clinton. Moreover, she's remembered. Margolies-Mezvinsky cast the deciding vote on a piece of policy that many think critical to the roaring economy of the '90s. She is, as Clinton himself often says, a profile in courage. She's still being interviewed and sounded out today. Compare that to the dozens or hundreds of congressmen who have lost their seats without the excuse of a courageous vote. That would truly be awful.
March 18, 2010; 9:17 AM ET
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