On Tuesday, when President Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the East Room of the White House was one big party. Wednesday, when he signed the executive order that made passage of the bill possible, there was no big ceremony -- reporters weren't even allowed to watch.
In the Oval Office Wednesday afternoon, Obama signed an executive order imposing restrictions on abortion funding in the new healthcare reform law. In contrast to the swarm of people in the East Room on Tuesday, this time it was just Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who led the fight over abortion language in the legislation, along with some of their allies. The only record of the event allowed was a photo taken by the White House photographer. (It accompanies this post.)
This sort of thing doesn't do much for the administration's transparency credentials. But there's good reason, politically, for a move like this. Women, especially women's organizations, are an absolutely key constituency for the Democratic Party, and the White House can't afford to alienate them any more than it already did by making this deal with Stupak. On the flip side, Stupak and crew probably didn't want this moment to get much coverage either -- though they did get this one concession, they still essentially caved, and have been taking a beating for it.