Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thoughts on What Happened in Massashusetts

From our Democrat in Montana:

Devastating loss for Dems and Obama. What happened? Your thoughts?


Scott Brown caught fire like you would not believe. Some last minute things that threw gas on the fire:

(1) Rumors were swirling last week from Washington, DC and our state capitol on Beacon Hill that, if Scott Brown won, his swearing in might be delayed so that the interim Senator Paul Kirk could vote through health care. Worst possible message to voters that their vote might be ignored.

(2) The Obama administration announced a new bank tax to "get our money back" from the backs that got bailout money. Yes, in the middle of a tax revolt in a state with a lot of bank jobs. A Democrat should never use the word "tax" within 4 months of an election, let alone 4 days.

(3) Leaks even while Obama was speaking in Boston that based on polling White House people expected Martha Coakley would lose. Congressman Barney Frank even made some remark on the bad campaign in an interview to Fox News, calling the game with time on the clock and the team still on the field.

There's a lot more to it than that. Martha Coakley ran a very bad campaign and there was an anti-Washington mood out there. We're one year into the Obama administration but 3 years into the Pelosi-Reid Congress.

I personally think this will strengthen President Obama's hand in Congress. He has been needing a graceful way to back down to a more centrist and actually doable proposal on health care reform and get on to some other things, like jobs and the economy.

On health care reform, President Obama always wanted to negotiate with the Republicans, he campaigned for openness and bipartisanship. The 60 seat majority got in the way of that without accomplishing anything. If Republicans refuse to negotiate, they risk losing the public on health care reform. That's how it should have been played from the beginning.

Negotiating and moving on seems to be the message out of the White House today, so I think they get it.

Another loser: Sarah Palin. This election result kills the Sarah Palin buzz. Scott Brown is the new star and he is a winner not a loser. Fox News hiring Sarah Palin as an analyst also seems designed to expose her more to the American public to a degree that will likely not redound to her benefit, at least as a future candidate for President. Hired the week the book Game Change was released, there was no way she could avoid answering questions about the book.

Intended or unintended winner: Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. He spoke at the Scott Brown victory party. Romney did health care reform with Democrats here in Massachusetts, but has been very quiet in the national health care debate so far. Scott Brown just erased "liberal" from "liberal Massachusetts" and now it reads "independent Massachusetts."

Connect the dots: The interests of the two national parties (or at least the centrist wings of those parties) converged for different reasons on the same result in the Massachusetts race being good for both.

Further reply:

Look at it this way, if Obama loses one Democratic Senator but gains 3 or 4 New England Republican Senators, he can afford to lose one or two other Democrats who want too much in special deals. And he can tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that otherwise they just don't have the votes for health care reform.

There are now 4 New England Republican Senators: Scott Brown from Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe from Maine, Susan Collins from Maine, Judd Gregg from New Hampshire. John McCain from Arizona is also often good for a compromise.

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