Mr Brown was narrowly elected.
While that is significant in such a dark blue state as the People's Republic of Massachusetts, it's not as if there was some landslide victory against Obama's or the Democrats' policies. This is no reason whatsoever not to keep moving forward.
Brown's opponent was a poor campaigner.
Ms Coakley's slogans amounted to little more than "If it's Brown, flush it down." She insulted Red Sox fans — apparently even greater sacrilege as campaigning in Orange County and referring to the "Los Angeles Angels" — and she did so twice. It's like there was some sort of death wish. Sure, you'd like to think that voters wouldn't make a decision about which person to elect for structuring national policy based on such things, but this is one of those "which one is more like me?" kind of issues.
Mr Brown's election did not create a 51-49 divide in the Senate.
It's still 59-41. With Mr Brown going to Washington, the Republicans now have a mere forty-one votes, while the Democrats still have fifty-eight or fifty-nine, depending on whether Senator Joe Lieberman dresses left or dresses right that day. Read another way, there are still 41% or 44% more Democratic votes in the Senate than there are Republicans. All that was lost was the supermajority. There is still a whoppin' effin' regular majority.
Mr Brown's election was not about dissatisfaction over health care reform.
News flash: Massachusetts residents already have universal health care in some form — even if Massachusetts Republicans pooh-pooh it on the national stage when they want to run for president. Around the country, Republicans and conservatives have been whipped up into a frenzy about Obamacare because they think there will be Death Panels™ and Soviet-esque six-month waits to get aspirin. From Provincetown to Pittsfield, they know it's not that way. Ditto with places like here in Hawaii, where we also have mandated universal health care and we are actually healthy. If there was any disgruntlement related to health care among those who voted on Tuesday, it's that they might have to spend money for other Americans to get what they already have. In other words, a totally different situation from most other states: This was not a referendum on health care.
Health Care reform has already passed the Senate and the House.
Obama and the Congress should work with what they have. Whether that's getting the House to support the Senate bill and avoiding a filibuster or tweaking joint legislation in a way that will bring on a Republican vote or two in order to end a filibuster, they should work with what they already have passed. The political capital to pass health care reform has already been spent and there's no reason to throw it away. Indeed, a finalized bill will ultimately be an asset to Obama and the Democrats in future elections.
A finalized bill dissipates anxiety and anger over health care reform.
The health care debate is the gift that keeps on giving for Obama's opponents. The nebula of allegations about what a future health care plan might hold is something that can be all things to all conservative politicos. They can whip up people about what might be in a finalized bill, but when the legislation is actually passed and signed, they have far fewer targets and almost no question marks. Before the legislative process ends, the rustling under the bed could be the bogeyman, a giant squid, a land shark, a hairy mutant Elmo, or a ghost, but once the legislative process ends, you finally find out exactly what that rustling is, and it's probably a Roomba or a Republican legislator tossing things under your bed (excuse the lame analogy, but I have young nephews and nieces). Get the whole thing over with and then talk about its strengths and protections.
Much of the disgruntlement in Massachusetts (and around the country) is something you can't do anything about anyway.
People are angry that there is still 10% unemployment, jobs haven't magically materialized, and they are mad as hell. They are going to be mad at the people in power, which happens to be a bunch of Democrats who had little to do with causing the problems that led to the current economic crisis or failing to do something about it earlier. Yeah, it's kinda stupid that people will have such knee-jerk anger that they will elect into office the party that was stewards over the White House and (mostly) Congress while this whole problem was brewing, but that's the nature of democratic (small D) politics.
So steam ahead, Mr President (and Mr Senate Majority Leader and Madame Speaker). Get done what you set out to do. This is a blow, but not a fatal one by any means, and it's no time to cower in the corner. Medicare was also controversial when it was before the Congress, but it eventually was passed and now it's something we see we can't do without.
Jon Stewart, it appears, has been thinking along similar lines as yours truly:
Because if Coakley loses, Democrats will only then have an eighteen-vote majority in the Senate. Which is more than George Bush ever had in the Senate when he did... whatever the fu¢k he wanted to do. In fact the Democrats have a greater majority than Republicans have had since 1923.Word.
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