On Tuesday, as we now know, Scott Brown, a Republican, was elected in a special election for the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy. Ironically, it was Brown's openly avowed opposition to the health care reform legislation now pending in Congress (the issue most prized by Kennedy) that propelled Brown to victory.
A little perspective is in order. Let's look at why Brown's resistance to health care "reform" became his "signature" issue and gave him the win.
Sure there were the health care "debates" (if you can call them that) over the Congressional summer recess that had opponents of health care reform screaming and shouting down any legislator who was "conducting" the sessions. Symbolic of some of the tantrums heard at these "debates" was a retiree shouting, "Keep your government hands off my Medicare." Well, so much for any understanding by the uninformed as to what the issue was all about.
Then there was the "Tea Party" demonstration on the National Mall (promoted and primarily orchestrated by Fox News' Glenn Beck), where interviews with some of the participants suggested a generalized anger at President Obama for being a "Socialist", as well as (what seemed) incoherent ranting against "government control of health care" (among the varied and disparate clamorings seen and heard that day).
But the "coup de grace" was the happenings in the U.S. Senate. There, in order to get wayward Blue Dog senators on board, deals were made, or better, bribes were demanded by recalcitrant members and they were granted to them! Unabashedly and for all to see, the Democrats in the Senate seemed determined to get health care "reform" passed by any means possible. So Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana got millions in "special compensation" for her state while Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska got millions in increased Medicaid payments for his state. Weeks earlier, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) had the public option stricken from the Senate proposal in order to get his agreement. On and on it went as if nobody were watching these shenanigans. This was not seen as the usual give-and-take compromise that takes place in "the world's most deliberative body". It was seen as out-and-out bribery and sordid corruption.
Meanwhile, the president and his spokesmen were casting no objections to the skullduggery being perpetrated in the Senate. The White House saw it as the usual give-and-take of the political process; not so, the people. And not just Republicans; it included Independents and many of the progressive left as well.
Progressives had long been appalled with what was being proposed as "reform" of health care, having seen a single-payer Medicare-type plan scrapped and never put on the table. The "public option" compromise plan was sacrificed to accommodate Lieberman. So they were hardly on board with the carcass that had been cobbled together and presented as "reform" of health care.
As to the Republicans, except for occasional murmurings from the two Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, all were in lockstep resistance to anything the Democrats proposed.
And thus the Senate Democrats (with Obama in tow on the sidelines) fell into a trap of their own making, ensnaring themselves and passing a health care bill that was possibly the all-time "Rube Goldberg" of bills ever devised.
Then the Massachusetts special election happened and revenge was taken by the people in the form of voting in Republican Scott Brown. This was less a vote for Scott Brown but more a referendum and a rebuke to the Democrats, specifically President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate. The people were outraged, even in the bluest of blue states.
Of course, the pundits and assorted political gurus were doing their usual post mortems the day after the Tuesday's game changer. But as to the ultimate outcome of health care "reform" legislation, it is anybody's guess. Both the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said nothing should proceed until Scott Brown is seated. Thus more dust will be kicked up, insuring less clarity.
But make no mistake; Tuesday's election was a game changer. The people are in a no-nonsense mood. The Democrats had their bells rung, which they clearly deserved. They and the president have no one to blame but themselves. Whether Tuesday was a harbinger for the Democrats, an ominous warning that could spell big trouble in next November's Congressional elections, is still too early to forecast. But "business as usual", when you control all the levers of power is clearly a lack of leadership. The message sent loud and clear on Tuesday was: take heed or else your time is short.
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