Stupak's Mistake.

Bart Stupak is expected to announce he will retire today, but David Weigel at The Washington Post tells us that the Tea Party Express was ready to take credit yesterday, when Stupak's decision not to run for re-election was just a rumor. The group had been holding rallies and running ads against him all week.="http:>

It’s not surprising that Stupak, who stood front-and-center in the health-care debate over its treatment of abortion, would want to leave after such a bruising battle. The end result of health-care reform is that access to abortion will be at least as restricted as it ever was, and likely more so. That was true without Stupak’s more restrictive amendment to the house bill, and would likely have been true even if he’d never raised a fuss over abortion.

The problem is, once you use anti-abortion rhetoric to criticize the health-care bill, the legislation's actual provisions on abortion -- that women would have to use their own money to buy abortion-riders because federal subsidies can't be used to pay for abortions, so plans in the exchanges can't offer them -- don’t matter. For voters who do not support abortion rights, the bill is forever associated with abortion, and Stupak played a roll in that. Since he ultimately voted for the bill, it was inevitable that he would be branded a sell-out.

Stupak stirred up enough trouble for his party during the health-care fight. Now, as The New York Times reports, the larger problem for Democrats will be keeping that seat in their hands.

— Monica Potts