Are House Democrats Avoiding an Obama Endorsement Due to Health Care?

05/15/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Today, Dennis Kucinich appeared at a rally with President Obama in Cleveland, despite the fact that the White House sent MoveOn to picket and threaten him if he honors his pledge and votes against the health care bill with no public option.

But that's more than you can say for freshman Congressman John Boccieri, a military veteran who is on the GOP's target list for the fall. He suddenly had to go to a dog-and-pony show in his district and watch a check being presented for a runway extension at a local airport and couldn't appear with the President.

Senate candidate Robin Carnahan didn't have an airport construction check to deliver, but she also had a scheduling conflict when the President came to Missouri to campaign for his health care bill last week. So did her brother, Congressman Russ Carnahan. Ike Skelton couldn't make it either.

Similar scheduling snafus plagued congressmen Patrick Murphy, Russ Holden and Chris Carney when Obama came to Pennsylvania last Thursday to campaign. In a state that Obama carried in 2008, suddenly they didn't snap at the opportunity to be seen with him.

Why was Boccieri suddenly so consumed with an extension of the local runway? Well, maybe because Boccieri is in a GOP-leaning district, the top of the ticket in Ohio is a disaster for Democrats in 2010, and his well-funded GOP opponent Jim Rennacci is already up on the air with ads slamming Boccieri for voting for health care:

The reason Kucinich is taking so much heat from the White House is because he's one of the only Democrats left who can take this vote and survive in the fall. They're at the point where every vote they pull either has to come from someone who is retiring, or is willing to retire for a fat appointment in exchange for their vote, or they flat-out torpedo the seat.

The White House is telling people that if they don't pass this bill, it will be a disaster for Democrats in the fall. That's abject nonsense -- their "fallback plan" for health care doesn't have the toxic mandate that makes the IRS the collection agency for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or any of the abortion issues that inflame both pro- and anti-choice groups. It is quite frankly a better plan, but most of the country wouldn't know the difference over a bill that doesn't kick in until 2014 anyway.

But the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate have made the decision to start firing on the troops in the trenches to force them onto a suicide mission. Washington DC has a pall over it as Democrats are forced to make a Jonestown-esque choice between having their own party target them for elimination, or cast a vote that will do it to themselves.

If Democrats in the House cast this vote, Republicans will take them out from the right, and single payer activists are lining up to run against them outside of the party on the left. They are the most electorally vulnerable, and they will be the sin-eaters for the entire party.

It's all come down to threats and intimidation in order to pass the health care bill. It's all they've got left. Because "having the President come and campaign for you" seems to be of dubious value these days -- most endangered Democrats are fleeing when the President comes to town.