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How Obama revived his health-care bill

The remarkable change in political fortunes thrust Obama into a period of uncertainty and demonstrated the ability of one person to control the balance of power in Washington. On Jan. 19, that person seemed to be Brown.

But as the next 61 days would show, culminating in Sunday night's historic vote, the fate of the legislation ultimately rested in the hands of Obama, who in the hours before Brown's victory was growing increasingly frustrated as Pelosi detailed why no answer was in sight.

There went health-care reform.

There went history.

"I understand that, Nancy," he finally snapped. "What's your solution?"

* * *

Panic. Despair. Back stabbing. Recriminations. Calibrations and recalibrations.

From the evening hours of Jan. 19 to Tuesday's bill-signing ceremony, Washington has been in full soap-opera mode, including the grandiose declarations made since Sunday night.

"Just think," Pelosi said as the House neared its vote, "we will be joining those who have established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans."

Said Obama after the 219-212 vote: "In the end, what this day represents is another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream." He added: "Tonight, we answered the call of history as so many generations of Americans have before us. When faced with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge -- we overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility -- we embraced it. We did not fear our future -- we shaped it."

Republicans viewed the action differently.

"With all this euphoria that's going on, this inside-the-Beltway, champagne toasting and all that, outside the Beltway, the American people are very angry," Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) said Monday. "And they don't like it. And they're going to try to repeal this. And we are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November. And there will be a very heavy price to pay for it."

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