Bart Stupak is retiring.
The man who earned the enmity of pro-choicers across America--and earned himself a primary challenge--with his grandstanding over the rights of women in health care reform has decided not to run for reelection, stating as his reason that the bill he did his best to kill got passed.
Is it time to celebrate? Rep. Stupak, from upper Michigan, represents a chunk of rural residents who tended, before him, to elect Republicans. He's now found himself in the unenviable position of being hated by women's rights advocates AND the criminalization crowd, both.
In terms of gains for Democrats, Michael Moore has noted that Stupak hasn't been all bad -- he's supported gun control legislation, taking on the NRA -- Moore calls him a "decent guy." Now he's politically defunct.
Stupak, in other words, is the most prominent face of a big problem for progressives within the Democratic party: what to do about the conservadems? They may snatch a seat from the GOP, but what's the good, if they spend most of their time in office fighting against the party and wearing down the supposedly Democratic agenda while they're at it.
The good news in this case, is there's no longer any reason for Democrats in Michigan not to support prochoice former schoolteacher Connie Saltonstall for Stupak's seat.
But the bigger question's this. What's politics? If you're a party that claims to have beliefs, do you go to where the voters are, perfecting the art of the easy road to a graspable majority? Or is politics, rather, the effort to shift opinion towards what you believe is right? The worst outcome of all is Stupak's -- falling victim to a bit of both.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.