Washington is buzzing today with talk of what the Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts means for the political landscape.
Was Scott Brown's upset victory a referendum on Barack Obama and his healthcare reform agenda? The senator-elect doesn't seem to think so, but others in his party's leadership, such as Minority House Leader John Boehner, who called the election a consequence of Democratic "arrogance" on healthcare, disagree.
"The president ought to take this as a message to recalibrate how he wants to govern, and if he wants to govern from the middle we'll meet him there," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
In an interview with Greg Sargent of The Plum Line blog, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said that the election should serve as a clear signal to Democrats that they need to begin a new wave of bipartisan compromise. And Cantor had something specific in mind. The Democrats, he said, should drop their health care plan in favor of the Republican alternative, one that the Virginia congressman said was "the result of bipartisan agreement on some issues."
During a Senate floor address Wednesday morning, Senator John McCain used a tangled Revolutionary War metaphor, describing Brown's landmark victory as "a shot fired...around this nation."
The Arizona Senator went on to explain his view of the election's health care significance:
"A shot was fired saying 'no more business as usual in Washington D.C. Stop this unsavory sausage-making process called health care reform, where special favors are dispensed to special people for special reasons in order to purchase votes.'"
(Watch a clip of McCain's floor speech.)
Republicans, however, weren't alone in their interpretation of Scott Brown's Senate win. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) all spoke about a potential change of course for the Democratic Party, especially on issues such as health care reform, which Webb said he wouldn't vote on until Brown is seated.
Sen. McCaskill told Politico:
"As I said to somebody last night: everybody needs to get the Washington wax out of their ears and listen and pay attention that people out there believe that we are going too far, too fast."
And Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who has been a pivotal Democrat vote on health care, echoed McCaskill, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the Massachusetts election "should be a wake-up call for Washington."
But the Nebraska senator also counseled bi-partisanship.
"The vote should end the situation where one side thinks it doesn't need the other, and the other thinks there's no need to work together for the good of the nation," he said."