In a sign that can be read as genuine desperation, the White House has decided that President Obama will travel to Massachusetts to appear with ailing Democratic Senate Candidate Martha Coakley this Sunday.
Amidst headlines in Boston about Bill Clinton's visit to help Coakley with a fundraiser, at a cost of $2,400 per attendee, and two pulled ads within days where Coakley's campaign attacked State Sen. Scott Brown, Obama's appearance has huge political consequences: not for her, but for him.
What can Obama do that millions of dollars from unions, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Pharma, and the Massachusetts Democratic machine can't do in this eleventh hour visit?
Amidst the tragedy in Haiti, on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when work and schools are out and Massachusetts tends to drive north or south for 45 degree temps, this could even be a low turnout event.
What message will that send the independent voters that Scott Brown has captured the imagination of?
What can Obama do but bring press to an already withering candidate who hasn't been able to connect with voters or answer fair press questions or debate questions posed by David Gergen?
It is, as Brown aptly said, "The People's Seat."
So to make it about health care is dishonest. Democrats can pass a bill with or without a Coakley vote if they need to go nuclear. Furthermore, in Monday night's Senate debate, Coakley did not seem to understand that saying she'd only vote for legislation passed by the House leaves a door a Mack Truck could drive through on how she'd vote on compromise legislation.
The White House does not seem to be getting the message of this dog-eat-dog Mass Senate race. It is not about health care. It is about arm twisting and power games of old. That is what voters want to change. Even more than changing health care, which Massachusetts already has, voters want a fair shake.
In coming, Obama is stacking the deck. It will fall or not, depending on who wins. The fact the race has gotten this close at all must be sending shivers down the spines of establishment Democrats nationally.
The only real fixes here for Coakley, other than a lucky resurgence: send Hillary Clinton, who won the state's primary. Or donate the fundraising money from the Bill Clinton event to the relief efforts in Haiti, not a cash-rich Senate campaign.