The Obama Truck Got Stuck
Pessimist that I am, the French Cowboy almost didn’t dare to hope for Scott Brown to actually win in Massachusetts. How unlikely this looked even a couple of weeks ago. Forget “unlikely”: It looked impossible!
So how does this Republican victory affect the Democrats? Let’s count the ways.
This was “Ted Kennedy’s Seat”, Ted ‘Health Care’ Kennedy’s Seat to be precise, that has just been given by the people of Massachusetts to a conservative who rejects the current health care proposals in Congress. In a sense, Brown’s voters have done the Democrats a favour by showing them how truly suicidal their plans to ram their health care bills down Americans’ throats are. Watching the goings-on on the Hill you had the impression Democrats weren’t aware of this, thinking instead “Yeah, well, Americans may hate this bill but if we force them to swallow it they’ll be our slaves forever!”. Not so, voters say, here the people rule.
But Brown is more than just Mr Anti-ObamaCare. He really is a conservative who is in favour of dealing with terrorists the old-fashioned way (ie with weapons) rather than reading them their Miranda rights, and who doesn’t believe in Democrat-style income redistribution (ie in arbitrary unfairness and at enormous scales). In short, the election of Brown tells Obama and his party that they can’t govern in the liberal manner they have adopted during the last year.
Thirdly, beyond the substance of policies, this election was also about governing style. “The most transparent administration ever” and its congressional pendant have been jerry-rigging a monstrous, hugely unpopular bill behind closed doors. They locked out the opposition party, made back-room deals, engaged in shameless vote-trading, and deployed you name what other type of politics-at-it’s-ugliest method to palm off a bad bill on Americans before they could say “Death Panel”. And, guess what, voters were watching and they didn’t like it.
And, last but not least, the election of Scott Brown is a big blow for Obama himself. After all, he flew in to campaign for Coakley in a last-minute effort to turn the tide. My assumption is that he hated to do this because he knew the risk of this becoming his Copenhagen III as Krauthammer called it. On the other hand, Obama couldn’t stay away from the fight because this was his health care bill’s 60th vote on the line. (Besides, what would the royal Kennedy’s make of Obama should he fail to do his utmost to defend Edward’s Legacy!)
There is no getting around the fact that Democrats need to change course. Some of them being slow learners, they may not understand this yet and actually try to pass a Senate vote on the health care bill without Brown, for instance. But they surely wouldn’t be doing themselves any favours because, even if it makes the likes of John Kerry shudder, Democracy means that the people rule. So Obama can make fun of truck drivers all he wants, his own liberal-partisan truck got stuck.