Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Critical Mass.

Yesterday's win for Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election for Ted Kennedy's unexpired term did more than install a newly-minted Republican senator in what is traditionally the bluest of blue states. The symbolic value for the Republicans in wresting away the seat held for half a century by the senate's Liberal Lion is considerable, and can't be undervalued. This is a rallying cry for them, and a crotch-kick for the Democrats. They fielded a lousy candidate in Martha Coakley who ran a tone-deaf campaign and was soundly beaten for her troubles. Call it political Darwinism.

In my estimation however, the one good thing to come out of the Massachusetts debacle is to finally, mercifully, disintegrate the much-vaunted 60 vote supermajority in the senate that the Dems have both pleaded for and hidden behind at every step when called on to enact any meaningful reform of almost any kind. It's this notion of a so-called supermajority that effectively wrested the center of the party away from the plurality of Democratic legislators and handed it over to the Liebermans, Nelsons, and Lincolns. There's only so much that can be laid on the Republicans' stoop. This one is all on the Dems.

Now, the optimist in me hopes that they -- and specifically the president -- will see this election for the clarion call it is. Not to shift further rightward than they already have, rendering their legislation even more toothless and perfunctory, but to actually be the change agents they told everyone they were going to be, whether in regards to healthcare, job creation, or Wall Street regulation. This election wasn't so much a validation of Scott Brown, who, let's be honest, doesn't represent positive change for any of those things, so much as it was a stark repudiation of Democratic immobilization on those issues, as the polling bears out.

I'm hopeful the majority party realizes this, but again, that's probably just me being optimistic. If history has taught us anything, it's that the Democrats have always had a peculiar knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so I'm not liking the direction in which the midterms are likely headed. Here's a clip from Monday's Daily Show, already anticipating the Mass. Democratic smackdown, with Jon Stewart hitting the bullseye as per usual.

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