Shifting Chairs in a Most Unusual Way

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 13:33:22 +0000

If you had told me in November 2008 that Massachusetts would be represented by a Republican in the Senate, I would have had you committed.  And yet that has what has occurred.  From my admittedly biased viewpoint on the periphery of the Boston media market, I thought Martha Coakley ran an arrogant and nasty media campaign.  For example, I'm not sure what she hoped to accomplish by interrupting my football playoffs with ads attacking a guy I had never heard of and blatantly overstating her own accomplishments.What she should have done was to simply say that she was a firm vote in the Democratic camp on the key issues of the day; principally, extending the benefits of more universal health care to the rest of the nation. 

What the nation got, instead, was something other than a firm vote in that camp.  But don't overstate what this means.  President Obama does not now find himself negotiating directly with Senator Brown over his health care agenda. <!--break--> The President and the Senate leadership now have to give a little bit more away to the potential 60th vote in the Senate, which is not Brown but one of his fellow Republican New Englanders -- either Senator from Maine.  There are many ways in which this election may have seemed like a referendum on health care reform, and perhaps it was.  But regardless of how conservative Brown may be, he is not the marginal vote.  That vote moved only slightly to the political right.

For more commentary along these lines, see this column by Steven Pearlstein of The Washington Post.