Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Scott Brown in Massachusetts: Hope or Delusion?

UPDATED: 15-Jan-10
graphic created using

Can Republican Scott Brown really win the senate seat in Massachusetts on January 19? I didn't think so, until I saw this clip from his debate with Martha Coakley.

David Gergen served up a softball and Scott Brown knocked it out of the park.
"It's not Ted Kennedy's seat. It's not the Democrat's seat. It's the people's seat."
This clip is getting a lot of play around the intertubes and MSM. If Brown wins, this may be the moment that put him over the top. In the 24 hours after the debate, over a million dollars flowed into his campaign coffers. The Democratic party establishment took note and sent out a call for cavalry. Of course Big Union is riding to the rescue. But in the meantime, while Coakley was hobnobbing with lobbyists and measuring the drapes in Washington D.C., Brown was on the ground campaigning in Massachusetts.

The tight polls say it is possible, and the distinct odor of desperation is emanating from an increasingly shrill Coakley campaign, but I still cannot believe that Massachusetts would elect a Republican to finish Ted Kennedy's term in the Senate. It seems as unlikely as unseating my Representative Nancy Pelosi or Senator Barbara Boxer in the upcoming mid-terms. Just not a good bet.

Comments by a Massachusetts resident on a Donklephant post sum up my view on the race. Like NY Congressional District 23, the Democrats may get a scare, but on election night Martha Coakley will prevail. All this national attention and tightening polls should serve to motivate the rank and file Democrats to get out the vote. Excitement about their candidate being heretofore the very thing that is missing from the Democratic campaign. Scott Brown gave them the gift of panic excitement.

That said, Scott Brown is doing some very smart things. Challenging Massachusetts voters to rethink the notion that this senate seat is an entitlement of the Democratic Party was exactly the right thing to do. In addition, he is soft pedaling the commitment required by voters, noting there are only three years left in the term. Saying in effect - Just try it out for while. If you don't like it you don't have to buy. Very smart salesmanship - first deal with the objection, then make it easy to sign on the dotted line.

It will still be a miracle if he pulls it off, but if he does I'll have to change my prediction for 2010. Who knows? If the GOP can pick up this seat, four more seem reasonable, and if Joe Lieberman gets tired of his abusive relationship with the Democrats, well, that means a new majority in the Senate in 2011.

Dare I even dream the impossible dream? Replacing Barbara Boxer with Carly Fiorina?

If Brown can win in Massachusetts, anything can happen.

We might even restore divided government in 2011.


UPDATE: 15 -Jan-10
As the polls tightened, with some showing Brown ahead, President Obama mailed in a message of support for Martha Coakley (literally - this is not a TV ad, but was delivered to potential supporters via e-mail):

I think he also "mailed it in" figuratively. I find it odd that he would deliver such a lackluster pitch invoking the “Change” mantra as if the last year never happened. I can understand that pitch if this was directed purely to the hard core Obamites for whom (like “Loyal Bushies”) this is purely an exercise in blind partisan loyalty. They are going to vote for Coakley regardless. But this election will turn on the votes of the independents and moderates that put Obama in office.

Does he really have so little respect for Massachusetts voters that he thinks he can just repeat the same empty campaign slogans of a year ago? I mean – we now know what “change” means. It means two massive blowout omnibus spending bills with a combined 14,000 earmarks. It means a trillion dollar “stimulus” bill that didn’t stimulate anything, was written by the House of Representatives and was predominantly a vehicle to funnel money to Democratic districts. It means a trillion dollar Health Care “reform” bill that was written by big pharma, big insurance, and big union lobbyists and does not go into full effect until 2019 when it still will not cover 28 million Americans. It means a massive escalation of the War in Afghanistan. I guess if that is the kind of “change” Massachusetts wants, they should vote for a rubber stamp like Coakley.

Is it going to work? Who knows. This is still Massachusetts. I guess you could call this a hint of an indication of a possible emerging groundswell of lukewarm support for Coakley among Massachusetts Democrats. The only poll that matters is on Tuesday. We'll find out then.

Word is, the president is going “all-in” and will be campaigning for Coakley in Massachusetts on Sunday. We’ll soon see if he can still play a winning hand.

Continued on next post.

x-posted at Donklephant

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


gale said...

Scott Brown is dead right. He has the support of many of us who live beyond Massachusetts' borders.

This healthcare bill, which the democrats rammed through for the most cynical, political reasons just to show they could, is disastrously underestimating the cost of what it purports. Moreover, its administrative components won't play and since it excludes SGR, tort reform, and seeks to limit tests for the millions added to the roster, and will dictate outcomes unrelated to protoplasm or decent medical practice, it's an outright outrage. It was not done bottom up, consulting with providers, who deliver healthcare, rather it went the same old top down, political hack route.

The sweetheart deals made to 'get the votes' show a disparagement of the democratic values they supposedly uphold. No promised change, that's for sure. No show of leadership. So go the ideals. If it captures the rest of the GDP to support it, beyond the unwieldy debt of the US to other nations, we will all pay for this political conceit. Surely the smart people of Massachusetts understand that.

No one should fall prey to the bogus argument that it's this plan or no plan. A bad bill will need to be reversed or diminished so it can die before it wrecks the structure. That means that for those representatives and senators who capitulate, defeat at the polls should be their outcome. How else can the public limit representatives who refuse to recognize their voter mandates.

If Scott Brown does win, let's also hope that Governor Patrick will do the right thing and certify it immediately and not denigrate his own future by playing political football. If the plan can stand on its merits, then a hearty debate and filibuster will not stop its progress for long, if that debate defeats it, then its flaws will become apparent. This is not a time when party line politics should prevail.

-Disgruntled democrat, atty, healthcare policy analyst.

mw said...

I agree completely about your view of this health care bill, the fact that it does little or nothing to achieve the reform it purports to provide and the cynical way it was rammed through.

That said, I'll repeat a comment I've made on some other blogs. No one should be under the illusion that whether Brown wins or Kirk can vote, it will have any affect on the passage of this bill. The Republicans in Congress remain impotent to do anything about this bill, except continue to deny the Dems political cover.

The only way the Republicans can become anything more than a peanut gallery on this bill,with or without Brown, is if the heavy Democratic majority in the House of Representatives choose to empower the Republicans in the Senate by obstructing the explicit legislative wishes of President Obama.

The bill that Obama wants, the bill that he is pushing, is the bill that already passed the Senate. There is no need for that bill to ever return to the Senate. If the Democrats want to put a Health Care Reform bill on the president’s desk, they can do it one day. They just need to take a straight up and down vote in the House of Representatives on the Senate Bill. If Nancy Pelosi can get 218 of the 256 Democrats in the House to vote for it, it is done.

It is still a Democratic bill, pushed by a Democratic president, with an all Democratic Congress. They still hold all the cards.