The Americans Who Saved Health Insurance

The bills had virtually no independent defenders. This intellectual honesty — the avoidance of false balance — helped the public understand that this wasn’t a classic partisan fight with each side making some good points. It was a case of cynical politicians willing to hurt their constituents in order to keep a misguided campaign promise.

.. Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, told me that he thought the two senators’ history of partisan independence was crucial: “Susan and Lisa knew you could stand up to the Republican leadership and survive.”

.. Chief Justice John Roberts is a movement conservative. Yet he cast the vote that saved Obamacare in 2012 partly because he understood that a partisan shredding of the safety net could undermine his institution — the Supreme Court.

John McCain is also deeply conservative. Yet, like Roberts, he realized that taking health coverage from millions, in a hasty, secretive process, could damage his favorite institution — the Senate.

When his colleagues didn’t heed his warning to abandon that approach, McCain flipped his vote. “No,” he announced at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, shocking Democrats who had given up on him and Republicans who had assumed he wouldn’t really break ranks on principle.

.. They had also held their own town halls, and they knew the bills were deeply unpopular.