03/23/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What to Give a President for His First Anniversary in Office

What to give a president for his first anniversary in office ... how about a great cosmic joke?

How about taking Ted Kennedy's Senate seat -- as reliable and guaranteed a Democratic seat as there is in the known universe, at a time when every seat in this particular corner of the universe matters and there's simply no margin for error -- and handing it to someone who promises to be the crucial vote, at the absolutely crucial moment, against the central cause of Ted Kennedy's life -- not to mention the central battle of the new Democratic president's entire first year?

What a side-splitter!

Well, at least Mitch McConnell is laughing.

And so, of course, are the Republican strategists who long ago decided that "No" is the gift that keeps on giving. They're laughing their heads off. You can't hear yourself think for all the GOP guffawing.

The Massachusetts Miracle, they call it. Other words come to mind. Massacre. Meltdown. Malpractice. Mess.

Bitter? I'm not bitter.

I love a good joke.

And speaking of jokes, how about a big shout-out to the foot-dragging Senate Democrats -- you know who you are -- who would not be hurried, and who acted as if they had all the time in the world to do the thing they insisted they really wanted to do, and -- just you wait! -- would be doing any minute now, just as soon as they had satisfied themselves that they had examined the situation from every conceivable angle, and from some angles that weren't even vaguely conceivable, and had tweaked and tinkered with every last word and digit in it in the endless quest for perfection (or at least for a little more grease for their own squeaky wheel), and would not, as they had already made clear at considerable length, and on many previous occasions, be hurried, or pressured, or have their turf intruded upon in any manner, and would take their own sweet time because, when you come right down to it, they are the Senate, and they have their ways.

Thanks, guys!

And a nod, too, to that clusterette of Republican "moderates" who spent months dancing just out of reach -- willing to talk, and then talk some more -- but never quite willing to say the word "Yes" when it would have done their constituents some good.

And to all the interest groups who supported health-care reform, but needed just a little bit more (or, occasionally, a whole lot more) for their side, even if it meant a little bit less (or even a whole lot less) for some other side, and who didn't see how they could possibly, possibly support the bill in whatever its current form happened to be, and would instead be obliged to dig in their heels until they got a sweeter deal, no matter how long it might take.

How'd that work out for you? Think you might have misplayed it, strategically-speaking?

And speaking of strategy, what can you say about a party whose way of proving that they're ready to be back in charge and ready to govern, is to keep the party currently in charge from accomplishing anything? Scorch the earth, and then say you're better farmers than the other folks are? Make scared and angry voters even more scared, and even more angry, and then say that you're the answer to their concerns?

The kid who kills his parents and pleads for mercy as an orphan comes to mind.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at