The Senate Democrats held together and cast nary a vote for repeal of the massively unpopular health care law. But a story today in Politico indicates that they are cracking:

A handful of moderate Senate Democrats are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate – the pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law – a sign that red-state senators are prepared to assert their independence ahead of the 2012 elections.

They haven’t decided whether to propose legislation, but any effort by moderate Democrats that takes aim at the individual mandate could embarrass Obama and embolden Republicans who are still maneuvering to take down the health care law.

These Democrats are decidedly not clueless. They realize that their party’s signature healthcare legislation is hated by the public and they want to do get on the right side.   

Good news, you say? Not necessarily. I think it poses a threat: the health care bill is awful, costly, and it won’t improve health care. It must be overturned completely, not tinkered into something that saves face for the people who foisted this monstrosity upon us.  

Frank Rich claimed in Sunday’s New York Times that voters “aren’t inflamed” about health care, describing the notion that they are as a right wing canard. Oh, yeah? Tell that to the Democratic senators mentioned in the Politico story (Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, and Ben Nelson). Karl Rove, who was singled out for attack in the Rich column, refutes Rich’s clueless claim:

For starters, consider the midterm exit polls. A plurality-40%-said that the new Congress’s highest priority should be reducing the deficit while 37% said it should be spending to create jobs. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll that perhaps Mr. Rich missed, 14% said the federal budget deficit was their top priority, up from four percent last fall, and 56% said they wanted the government to take immediate action to reduce the budget deficit.

Even the January Associated Press/GfK poll that Mr. Rich cites undermines his claim. Mr. Rich writes that “only one in four” favors the repeal of ObamaCare. While it’s true the AP poll reported that 26% of the public wanted to repeal the law completely, 43% wanted to alter the health-care law to do “more to change the health care system.”

What’s more, most polls indicate that roughly twice as many Americans want to repeal the health-care law as Mr. Rich suggests in his column. In a mid-January CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 50% favored repeal. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, it was 45%. A mid-January ABC News/Washington Post found 54% of Americans oppose the health-care law. An early January Kaiser/Harvard poll showed that 50% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law and 61% think it will increase the budget deficit.

On the other hand, Politico reports that health care isn’t the only issue where the Dems are seeing the handwriting on the ballot:  

The senators are prepared to break with the White House on a wide range of issues: embracing deeper spending cuts, scaling back business regulations and overhauling environmental rules. The moderates most likely to buck their party include Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana – all of whom are up for reelection in 2012 and represent states Obama lost in 2008.

No reason to welcome them up on these issues.

By the way, if you want to keep abreast of what’s going on in the health care repeal movement (and perhaps are inclined to sign the Repeal Pledge), Independent Women’s Voice is the one-stop shop.