As of this morning, The Hill's survey of House Democrats' current positions on health-care reform puts Congressman Jim Cooper squarely in the undecided slot. The whip count, based on a review of news reports and interviews with congressional aides and legislators, also notes that Coop's relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been "up-and-down," and that he voted for the Stupak anti-abortion measure.
It's pretty remarkable that such a minuscule piece of a sweeping reform effort could actually be the hinge on which a lawmaker's vote swings, particularly when reform is something he/she ostensibly believes in. Yet Cooper's health-care reform legacy is a complicated one. He can be dogmatic in his cerebral approach -- to the point that some have wondered whether he'll allow "the best to become the enemy of the good."
Yet it also wouldn't surprise Pith to hear he supports the Stupak amendment because he knows compromise is what it'll take to get reform through. Cooper is nothing if not deaf to the wedge-issue passions of the mob, while keenly aware of how they'll influence his peers.
Unlike many of his Blue Dog brethren, who quake these days at the prospect of the coming referendum foretold by a self-aggrandizing Tea Party, Cooper is pretty secure in these progressive Davidson County environs. His is a unique position. Arguably, he could vote either way with very little consequence. Cooper is free to roam wherever his rigid intellectual discipline leads him. A dream for a legislator who views the issue through the lens of an analyst -- a nail-biter for the rest of us.