Peter: I think Pelosi's move to push for a health care vote tomorrow is a bold move made either out of determination that she can win or stupid desperation that she has to try to win now or never--most likely the latter. The conventional wisdom among Democrats is that they lost Congress in 1994 in part because they never even voted on a reform bill, and therefore that they face greater downside risk not passing something now rather than passing something unpopular. This is a gross misreading: Hillarycare failed to win a vote because it became so unpopular the more voters learned about it, just as polls show declining support for this mess. I continue to believe that the basic symmetry in American politics now is that Republicans by themselves can't change Social Security in any big way, and Democrats by themselves can't change health care in any big way.
By the way, what happened to the criticism that Bush and the Republican Congress erred by governing on a narrow partisan basis, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003? Now Democrats are about to do the exact same thing, but all the media critics are largely silent about this. Like the prescription drug bill--remember the House held the vote open for more than three hours while Bush and House GOP leaders broke arms for the final votes--I expect that if the vote is called, it might be held open for three hours or more while Pelosi and Obama break arms and trade off votes. I wouldn't be surprised to see nervous Dems switching votes halfway through--if it looks like it is going to fail, a dozen or more might bolt. It will be a thing to watch.
Finally, Pelosi may well reckon that even losing a vote is better than not having one at all, because then she thinks it can be turned into a campaign attack next year: those mean Republicans and their insurance company cronies blocked health care reform! I doubt that will work, but it fits with the supposed lessons of the Clinton failure.
P.S. Don't forget the other mistake of the Clinton experience: GOP Senate leader Bob Dole was always ready to reach a bipartisan compromise with Democrats. The Clintons refused even to consider the idea.