This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
To paraphrase George W. Bush, the Democrats took a thumpin’ Tuesday in Massachusetts.
It hard to imagine how a single state election could have served up more grief for President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress.
Massachusetts was, and probably still is, the bluest state in the Union. It had not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.
The election pitted Scott Brown, a flea on an underdog’s belly, against Martha Coakley, who’d won statewide election as attorney general. At stake was the Senate seat occupied by uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy for close to half a century.
Brown campaigned against the Democratic plans for national health care reform – the signature issue of Barack Obama and Kennedy himself. The Republican’s campaign took off when he began billing himself as the crucial 41st vote to block the legislation in the Senate. And, he won decisively. However inept a campaign Coakley ran, someone like Brown could not have upset a Massachusetts Democrat with a pulse unless the national winds were blowing hurricane-hard against Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their agendas.
Cause and effect: Within hours of Brown’s election, Obama was signaling his interest in a compromise health reform bill. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, said, “Republicans have a lot of good ideas.” That’s likely to become a common theme – on a lot of issues – in coming months.
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