His real name may be Scott Brown, the right-wing truck-drivin' former Cosmo centerfold and Massachusetts state senator. But from now on, his name might as well be Phil A. Buster, the self-proclaimed "41st Senator" headed to Washington to wreak havoc on health care reform and the rest of the Democratic agenda.
It's taken President Obama and the Democrats in power just one year to unravel. In my wildest imagination, despite a general lack of confidence in the party and the belief that it is utterly inept, I thought it would at least take one full term to implode. But I suppose when your greatest skill is self-destruction, there's no better time than the present.
The left lies in stunned disbelief in the wake of Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts where Brown, a virtual nobody, has become an overnight somebody by stealing the Senate seat held by the iconic Ted Kennedy for 46 years in the nation's most liberal state. Poor Teddy. Perhaps he's sitting somewhere with Jack and Bobby, red-faced, veins popping out of his neck, fist-pounding the table in righteous indignation over how monumentally the party botched this election and tarnished his legacy. You can almost hear the brilliant sarcastic wit wrapped in that think Bahston accent: "Er, uh, congratulations Democrats ... a Republican winning in Massachusetts is like, er, Barney Frank winning in Oklahoma. You've achieved the impossible."
Goodbye, super-majority. Hello filibuster.
So now Sen. Buster will hop on his pick-up and head to D.C., gallantly riding into town like a superhero, all to the orgasmic glee of GOP head Michael Steele, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and the other bloodthirsty members of the Party of No. It's about to get very ugly around the Beltway.
Tuesday's election was as much a referendum on Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress as it was a humiliating defeat for the horrendously run campaign of Attorney General Martha Coakley. Despite his desperate last-minute campaigning in a state where he won by 26% last year, Obama could not deliver for Coakley. Voters simply said "thanks but no thanks" to the both of them. With his approval rating hovering around 51%, and with the recent GOP gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, it's pretty safe to say Brown's victory now constitutes a movement. Get ready for Tea Bagger-boasting ad nauseum. The Democratic Party should be shaking in its boots as it heads into the 2010 midterms.
Now as bleak as Tuesday's loss seems, there's still time for the party to get its act together. The November election is 11 months away, which is an eternity in politics. Democrats need to craft a meaningful message for voters and back it up with clear results. There must be a de-emphasizing on health care and a major shift in priority towards the economy and job creation specifically. Want a winning theme, Democrats? Jobs, jobs, jobs.
Obama needs to relentlessly drill into voters' heads the successes he and the party have achieved in this area, taking the nation from 700,000+ monthly losses down to less than 100,000. His upcoming State of the Union speech should very clearly outline the progress that's been made on the economy, from stemming job losses to achieving GDP growth; from the success of his $787-billion stimulus package to the turnaround in the financial, auto and housing industries. He must instill confidence in the American people that if they stick with him and Democrats they will see continued growth and expansion, as well as appreciable job creation. He must successfully remind voters that it was he and the Democrats who brought the nation back from the brink of financial disaster in the Fall of 2008. And, he must define Republicans as The Party of No. The party that voted against the stimulus, against the financial reform bill, against health care. The party that has not come up with one single solution of its own to help bail out the American people, who continue to suffer tremendously from the struggling economy.
For sure, there's plenty of time to right this sinking ship. That is of course if Democrats can get out of their own way.
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