Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s. – “Waterloo,” by David Frum

Final vote: 219 Democrats vote Yea. Voting Nay: 34 Democrats; 178 Republicans.

Obama makes a deal with Stupak for an executive order. But would Stupak have voted no on the bill without it? He’s going through the tenth level of hell at home, with his constituents so angry he’s now got a primary challenger, Connie Saltonstall, who has issued a statement. There’s a very good chance he was bluffing about being an eventual no vote. Besides, there was really no reason for an executive order when there’s no abortion funding in the bill. So why the executive order?

Meanwhile, Jane Hamsher is reporting, through sources “who spoke on condition of anonymity,” that the Obama’s executive order deal with Stupak was released before the Pro-Choice Caucus saw it. I have no information as to whether NARAL or Planned Parenthood received copies of Obama’s deal with Stupak. (Cue the fundraising letters, though I’d ask why these groups didn’t anticipate this fight and head it off. Isn’t that their job?)

It seems to me that Pres. Obama helped Mr. Stupak out through the offer of the executive order. It took heat off him on his signature issue, anti women’s choice, while making him a “hero” to some people, complete with a big press conference that will be played on TV in Ohio.

From Politico:

At the news conference, Stupak said the language of the order clears up any ambiguity about federal funding of abortion in the reform bill. “We have the assurances from the president that he won’t rip this up tomorrow,” Stupak said.

A statement from the White House said the executive order following the passage of the health bill would “reaffirm its consistency with long-standing restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.”

“While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced and that the health care legislation’s restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented,” the White House statement said.

What Pres. Obama did was offer Stupak cover to make it seem he kept to his principles while voting for health care to keep heat off him at home. Call it political quid pro quo.

Meanwhile, the progressive caucus and the majority of women who vote Democratic got more rights carved away through the largest legislative entitlement program in the last four decades.

And none of this will silence Republicans on the issue of abortion, something Mr. Obama simply doesn’t get. You can never appease the religious zealots who want to take women’s freedom hostage, which includes Mr. Stupak.

We’ll have to see the final tally tonight, but House Democrats will make history.

Unfortunately, some of what’s been accomplished has been at the expense of women’s rights, while shoring up the power of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

“I couldn’t agree with you more about the Democratic leadership betraying women and risking losing their support with their kowtowing to Bart Stupak. I am an independent left leaning voter who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and I see no remaining reason to support President Obama or any other Democrat any more. If the party abandons women and civil rights, they will lose many votes, as they have lost mine!” – KR (TM NOTE: just one reader email I’ve gotten today)

UPDATE: Rep. Bart Stupak given center stage by House leadership to argue against Rep. “life” motion to recommit, which would return the bill to committee. Truly absurd political theater. Dana Bash calling it a “really, really dramatic moment.” Anyone doubt he’ll be doing all the political shows?