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Brown win should not mean a downward spiral for Obama

January 20, 2010

Browns win does signal danger by the left can not act defeatist.

It is clear that the Republican win of Scott Brown in last nights Mass Senate seat for the old Kennedy seat, by a slim 52% to 47% lead, will have ramifications through America and the Democratic party, but the question to be asked is, should we really believe the end is nigh come November?

Brown’s opponent, Martha Coakley gave a lacklustre campaign to take a seat which has been a Democratic stronghold for over 50 years, but therein lay some of her problems – Coakley was arrogant enough to believe that she would win and would have to do the minimal to get that seat, but she ignored the voice of the country at her peril.

Despite what Brown may say about this not being a referendum on Obama, but “bigger than that” anyone with their ear to the ground or following the media, not just mainstream but otherwise, will have seen that a voice is brewing which could do damage to the Democratic majority. That voice, although one I still think on a massive scale can not alter, on a smaller scale, in what was classed here as a by-election, can make changes. And not for the good.

So how do the Democrats recover if they have any chance of keeping a strong hold on the Senate and House? Well for one they have to wake up to the opposition – and not just the GOP but the Fox News sponsored Tea Party Movement which is seeking to infiltrate the GOP and instill “real American Conservative” values back into the mix. I still believe myself that on a grander scale they are not nearly as organized as they would believe, but one thing that should be noted is how Scott Brown, a moderate, appealed to their base.

The Tea Party Express endorsed Brown in a TV campaign and many in the Conservative world heralded Brown as the one who could scupper so called “Obamacare”. Some on the right see Brown as a moderate who “has shown himself an open and accessible candidate, optimistic and without rancor. In short – he’s running exactly the kind of campaign that we alleged RINOs have been urging on the GOP for months now. It would be a travesty if Brown’s victory is seized upon as a victory for anger, paranoia, and ideological extremism.” (MSNBC)

Yes it is certain that with a 59 majority now, the Republicans have a chance to filibuster the health care bill, but what rankles some is how Brown can claim to have run against Obamacare and yet coming from a state that has the kind of care, Obama is trying to endorse. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said:

“Massachusetts has health care and so the rest of the country would like to have that too, so we don’t (think) a state that already has health care should determine whether the rest of the country should.”

But many other Democrats disagree with her and also believe that the Bill should be suspended before Brown is sworn in for August. Barney Frank and Jim Webb have both expressed this opinion with Frank noting:

“I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results,” Frank said. “If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the senate, that approach is no longer appropriate.”

What is apparent to myself is that Pelosi needs to wake up and smell the coffee – even though a majority of Americans support the Bill, many have become delusioned with the way it has been watered down, including the removal of the public option. But there is also a number that believe that Obama’s health care bill is a referendum towards Socialized medical care, even though senior citizens and others already receive this in Medicare and Medicad. What Pelosi should be questioning is, what needs to be done to readdress the issues and find out why the American electorate voted against them. And although Frank is right to respect the democratic process, it is evident that without the super majority, the GOP will have a chance to scupper a bill that they have been trying to kill since day one.

Maybe both should be taking a leaf out of Senior presidential adviser David Axelrod’s book when he says that there would need to be a rethink on tactics but the substance of the policy would remain.

“We’ll have to think through this next year from the standpoint of tactics but in substance the mission can’t change,” he said. Asked about healthcare, he added: “It’s not an option simply to walk away from a problem that’s only going to get worse.” (BBC)

On health care alone the Democrats are showing division, and it is this weakness that the Right have picked up on, and given the way the Left have reacted to this defeat, the last thing they need to do is to turn on themselves.

For sure, Coakley put on a campaign that was too arrogant, a charge that has been leveled at Obama for his politics. She has also been accused by some of being lacklustre. Just a couple of weeks ago she was enjoying a double digit lead, and yet, even though a slim win by Brown it is a win nonetheless. And what her camp needs to avoid, in fact what all Democrats need to avoid, is to be seen to be blaming each other. This is a time to dust off and re-evaluate if they want a good chance to stem what some feel will be a bloodbath in November come the midterms. Coakley can not be seen to be scapegoating her campaigns failure against Obama as CBS reported today:

Even before the first results were announced, administration officials were privately accusing Coakley of a poorly run campaign and playing down the notion that Obama or a toxic political landscape had much to do with the outcome.

Coakley’s supporters, in turn, blamed that very environment, saying her lead dropped significantly after the Senate passed health care reform shortly before Christmas and after the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing, which Obama himself said showed a failure of his administration.

She like the rest of her party need to take responsibility for their part in the loss. And they need to regroup and listen and see why there was voter apathy, just one year after Obama was sworn in. One senior Democrat is reported as telling Politico:

“The campaign failed to recognize this threat, failed to keep Coakley on the campaign trail, failed to create a negative narrative about Brown, failed to stay on the air in December while he was running a brilliant campaign.”

Obama needs to ignore calls but Joe Lieberman and right wing media that he needs to take a step to the right – appeasing the right and Joe Lieberman has seen his health care bill in trouble as he pushed through concession after concession to keep bipartisanship alive.

Obama also needs to look at what his detractors in said right wing media are doing and address once and for all the propaganda propagated by them. If one looks, you will see Fox used it’s channel to endorse Brown. According to Mediamatters, Fox allowed Brown a platform to ask for campaign funds and allowed it’s own contributors to advertise their endorsement of him on their own websites. Fox also used one of their usual boogeymen tactics by suggesting the Democrats would steal the election. According to Glenn Beck:

Well, the fat lady has not sung. And this is a very fat lady. It’s ACORN, it’s the Working Families Party, it is the progressive movement. They will lie, cheat, and steal their way through anything. But it looks like Brown may be a winner.

The Democrats should have used their past dealings with the right to make sure that they were well guarded against any such attacks. Fox and other talk radio hosts have used their so called grass roots movement – The Tea Party – to help create division in the country. And it is this division Obama needs to counter.

The last thing that the Democrats should do now is to fall on their sword or start fighting one another and neither should it sit back on it’s hind quarters and allow the same old, same old to continue – this is dangerous if they wish to win in November.

As Larry J Sabato director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said:

Talk about a wake-up call! Democrats who are minimizing Scott Brown’s victory do so at their very great peril. In a representative democracy, voters like to believe they are in charge — and they expect elected officials to adjust their agendas accordingly. Republicans have been given a gift that will keep on giving all the way to November, which is virtually unprecedented for a special election. Democrats can either learn from the results and show some humility, or they can pretend that the Massachusetts Senate contest was an aberration, all Martha Coakley’s fault. The road Democrats are on will lead to major, larger-than-expected losses in November. And for Democrats who say, ‘we’ve still got 59!’ and think the Massachusetts mood is not replicated nationally, there is one key question: Have they looked at a dozen recent national surveys that show the public has turned strongly against their healthcare plan? Jerry-built rigs usually collapse, and sometimes there is major loss of life.

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