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Eric Lurio Headshot

Malice, Blowback, and the "Yeah, So?" Gambit

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The year was 1947. Senator Robert Taft, the son of a President, was in a surly mood. The Republicans had gotten Congress back for the first time in a decade and a half and he wanted revenge. He couldn't get it against the man he hated above all others, Franklin Roosevelt, because FDR was dead, So he did what he thought was the next best thing. he would bar all Roosevelt's successors from doing what that president did. He would bar future presidents from serving a third term.

In lobbying his colleagues in the senate and the members of the House to pass what would become the 22nd Amendment, Taft would say "You must vote for this ANTI-ROOSEVELT bill!!!!" He wanted to punish FDR posthumously. But instead he punished the Republicans.

Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan could have been elected to third terms, the former quite handily. Taft screwed his own party. That's an old lesson: don't try to screw one person by hurting an office or you're going to screw yourselves in the long run. In 2004, the Massachusetts state Legislature forgot that lesson.

Five years ago, the Democrats in the Massachusetts state legislature decided to screw Mitt Romney by taking away his power to appoint a successor to "President-elect" John Kerry's seat. The legislature passed a bill (over Romney's veto), taking away his power to do so, mandating a 140-160 day vacancy prior to a special election. It was a stupid, vindictive act, and like Taft's constitutional amendment, it's come to bite the Massachusetts Democrats in the ass. GOOD.

Ted Kennedy's last public act before he died was to write the MA Democratic leadership and plead the law be changed. The Republicans had a really good laugh with that one. Governor Patrick and his party look like a bunch of assholes, and rightly so. But now they have a real problem: The Democrats need the seat, so what to do? The answer is the "yeah, so?" gambit. What's that?

The Democrats give the governor back his right to appoint a senator (until the special election, not the rest of the term), and when the GOP and the media accuse them of blatant hypocrisy, they answer "yeah, so?" and get on with their business.

It'll work.