Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak reminds me of the boy
holding back a flood by holding his finger on the weakest point of the
dike. If he let go, it would all break loose, unstoppably.

This New York Times profile of Stupak
kind of says the same thing. And helps reveal how steadfast and
dedicated to principle Stupak is, in a town that seriously lacks
anything resembling that kind of leadership.

“Mr. Stupak insists that the final bill include his terms, which he
says merely reflect current law. If he prevails, he will have won an
audacious, counterintuitive victory, forcing a Democratic-controlled
Congress to pass a measure that will be hailed as an anti-abortion
[read pro-life] triumph. If party members do not accept his terms — and
many vow they will not — Mr. Stupak is prepared to block passage of the
health care overhaul.

“It’s not the end of the world if it goes down,” he said over
dinner. He did not sound downbeat about the prospect of being blamed
for blocking the long-sought goal of President Obama and a chain of
presidents and legislators before him. “Then you get the message,” he
continued. “Fix the abortion language and bring the bill back.”

That’s a simple message. Congress likes things convoluted.

The Democratic-controlled Congress also doesn’t like socially conservative members of their party having any power or voice.

“As dinner progressed, the congressman described years of feeling
ignored, slighted or marginalized by his party for his anti-abortion

“We’re members without a party,” he said. “Democrats are mad at you, and Republicans don’t trust you.”…..

“But Democratic control of the House carries a paradox: because the
party expanded by winning what had been Republican districts, it has
more members who oppose federal financing for abortions and
restrictions on guns. Mr. Stupak’s measure on abortion passed the House
with the support of 64 Democrats.

“Before, when we talked about pro-life Democrats, you’d get a
snicker and a laugh,” he said. “We were just always overlooked. We’re
not overlooked anymore.”

That’s an understatement.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....