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Brown shocks Coakley, Democrats

Posted by Bill Koch on January 19, 2010

Scott Brown senate

Barack Obama’s dynamite vision for the domestic future of America exploded into smoldering ruins on Tuesday night in Massachusetts, a state where the American Revolution began over 200 years ago and where the new Republican Revolution in the 21st century might have started on Tuesday night.

Martha Coakley’s crushing defeat against Scott Brown sounded the death knell for Obama’s health care slam dunk through the Senate and provided a stinging slap in the face to the president, who tried to come to Coakley’s rescue in the election’s final weekend to no effect. Now Washington will be left to deal with the dissolution of the 60-vote majority in the Senate that the Democrats needed to shove health care down the throats of the Republicans and the rest of the nation.

How did this happen? Coakley held the lead in the polls until the special election’s final weeks in one of the country’s bluest states, a seemingly sure thing to succeed the late Ted Kennedy and see The Liberal Lion’s pet cause through to historic completion. Now Obama and the Democrats face uncertainty and an almost certain backlash in November’s general election, one in which several more Senate seats will be up for grabs and any agenda that Obama hopes to push through Congress will be sorely tested.

Coakley was supposed to be able to win without Obama thanks to the 3-to-1 majority that Democrats enjoy over Republicans in the state – Republicans had an instant out to spin the results in their favor even if all Brown did was run close. Instead Coakley lost, and with her defeat a little bit more of the shine came off Obama’s political star. When he took office a year ago his presence alone would have been enough to push Coakley over the finish line. “Yes We Can” was the rallying cry. The Democrats are looking at Obama a year later and some of them might be thinking “No We Can’t.”

Obama’s first mistake was coming to Massachusetts in the first place. It was a no-win situation for him. He had plenty of excuses to stay away – the disaster in Haiti and this country’s other domestic problems chief among them – and should have used one of them to stay in Washington and watch Coakley collapse from afar. This is why the vice president has a job in the first place. Joe Biden should have been called in to lend help with the full support of the White House, a step that would have deflected the blame from the president and his office if something like Tuesday’s election had taken place.

One of the main criticisms of George W. Bush’s administration was the lack of transparency that existed in the White House. Bush was viewed as a president who did too many things in secret and out of the view of the American people. The current Democrats in Congress learned nothing from this – several of them admit that they haven’t seen finished or partial copies of the separate health care bills which have passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives. They overestimated Americans’ will to accept unquestioned change of any kind. The fact is that people in this country are too selfish and have too much to blindly cede control to a government body. Many with health insurance were too skeptical to let go of it for a government plan administrated by a group of people in Washington who have left too much of the country without jobs, have expanded the national debt to record levels and haven’t done enough to bring a complete and total stop to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress deserves to take the hit for most of the policy problems, but Obama ends up being the lightning rod for the voters’ scorn. His approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency thanks to the wide range of concerns that still exist in this country. It’s a natural progression for any president – you’re never going to make everybody happy all the time – but Obama seemed above the fray when he was elected thanks to his magnetic personality, unprecedented ambition and fresh perspective that he seemed to offer to what had turned into an increasingly stale and rancorous political discourse in this country. His desperation to pass a health care bill by any means necessary forced Obama into the political ugliness that he managed to avoid throughout his 2008 campaign, and it lessened his appeal to the independents that swung so heavily in Brown’s favor.

Kennedy’s ghost hung heavily over this election, and in the end it didn’t turn out to be a favorable legacy for the Democrats to embrace. I’ve talked to a handful of friends in Massachusetts, independent voters all, who resented the Kennedy legacy and the sense of entitlement that the Democrats had when talking about the seat that he held for 46 years before his death this summer. They wanted to send a message that it was “Massachusetts’ Senate seat” and not “Kennedy’s Senate seat,” and it appears that they have done so by sending Coakley to the political gallows. Monarchies, especially those of the political kind, aren’t typically embraced in this country. The people of Massachusetts started the rejection of that ideology over 200 years ago, and Democrats now must be concerned that this latest act of defiance will spread throughout the rest of the country like it did all those many years ago.

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