If you want your piano tuned, make sure that the piano tech isn't tone-deaf. Listening to the conservative Democrats and Republicans analyze the results of the special election in Massachusetts was like listening to karaoke night at a tone-deaf bar. The mainstream media has a new Palinesque crush.
The Democrats may have lost because they weren't listening to 'The People.' But it wasn't because Congress was 'too far left' as the Senator from Jello, Evan Bayh (D-IN), stated. It wasn't because people rejected President Obama or the president's 'agenda' of change as Fox News opinionator Sean Hannity said. This wasn't even a victory for the Tea Baggers who poured money into the Brown campaign from around the country. Democrat Martha Coakley lost to Republican Scott Brown for different reasons entirely.
Senior Brown adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told boston.com the turning point for Brown was the Dec. 30 JFK ad. "After that, it was like riding a rocket ship for 2 ½ to 3 weeks till today." Brown called himself a candidate who drew his inspiration from JFK and characterized himself as a moderate and a believer in compassionate and smart government. He wasn't running as a Tea Bagger and denied even knowing what the Tea Party movement was -- despite having an official Tea Party fundraiser.
As far as this being a referendum on Obama, that can't be because even as the Coakley campaign tanked, Obama's approval rating was running around 50%. It wasn't the Obama agenda either. CNN reported exit-polling data that revealed voters were frustrated with the 'pace of change' meaning the 'change' they voted for was not happening fast enough. The frustration of independent and Democratic voters with the pace of change also reflected a frustration with 'compromise' vs. 'leadership.'
People don't want mealy-mouthed ass-kissers like Evan Bayh or chinless elephant fluffers like Joe Leiberman -- they want Roosevelt-like leadership that may, indeed, steamroll the Republicans in Congress but, hey, so what? Polling data shows the only group voters hate more than Democrats are the Republicans, so who is going to give a rat's ass what Mitch McConnell boo-hoos about?
Finally, this cannot have been a referendum on health care because Massachusetts has a public care system with mandatory purchase requirements that covers 97% of the state's population. Moreover, a majority in the United States and in all regions support a more liberal health care bill than the ones offered in either the House or Senate!
Howard Dean and Blogger Jason Linkins provided some well-tuned analysis that Democrats and the White House should heed. Dean pointed out on NPR and later on MSNBC that maybe it is a good thing the Senate now has one less Democrat because it will force the White House to provide the leadership that has thus far been lacking in health care reform and other issues like banking reform.
As long as the White House set the goal of a Super Majority 60 votes, it was weak with compromise and void of leadership. Direction was provided by the Myth of the 60 and not the Leadership of the one for whom the people voted last November. So now, perhaps, the Obama White House will be forced to find its voice and get tough and, yes, roll the recalcitrant if need be.
If this had been a goal of George W. Bush, health care reform would have been law last fall -- with or without the support of the opposition.
Democrats should forget Nelson, Lincoln, Landrieu, Lieberman and Bayh; there are 53 or 54 good, solid Democratic votes to advance the progressive agenda; all we need is the leadership of one. Now is the time to lead.
FDR passed critical aspects of New Deal legislation with less than 50 votes! The National Industrial Recovery Act passed 46-39 in 1933. Stop already with the B.S. super majority goal. People are dying every day from a lack of health insurance.
Linkins turned some much-needed attention to Coakley herself and the listless campaign she conducted in pursuit of what must surely have looked like royal decree -- what with all the talk about the "Kennedy Seat" and the filial pious decree of the Kennedy family and widow. So Martha took a vacation that contributed to Brown's surge and eschewed retail campaigning like a vegan turning her nose up at a can of Spam. As Linkins relates it:
To me, this quote from Coakley, responding to a Boston Globe reporter asking her if perhaps she hasn't been too passive, sums up her entire campaign:
"As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?" she fires back, in an apparent reference to a Brown online video of him doing just that. "This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet."
Linkins went on to note that with unemployment in some parts of Massachusetts reaching 17%, the Democratic Party failed to connect with the plight of their constituents and-hence-their frustration. Coakley didn't get it. You may engender resentment among the voting demographic that can't pay their bills or put food on the table if you go on a reported 3 week+ Caribbean vacation during the final stretch of the campaign instead of standing outside Fenway Park.
So here is what I take away from the Coakley debacle and pass on to the Democratic Party:
To thine own self be true....now, grow a pair!
Set your goal at 50 plus Vice President Biden's tie breaking vote.
Tweak the bill and include a strong public option that will commence October 1, 2010. Pass health care reform via reconciliation the way George W. Bush rammed through his tax cuts. By November 2012, even the Tea Baggers will appreciate and defend their new-found health coverage.