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View Full Version : Obama's options, in a post-Massachusetts nation



Eric Johnson
01-22-2010, 03:49 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/21/AR2010012103499.html?wpisrc=nl_pmopinions

http://tinyurl.com/y8j5x3q

By Michael Gerson
Friday, January 22, 2010

If Tuesday had been a national election, Scott Brown's victory merely would have been the high-water mark of a Republican deluge. A five-point win in Massachusetts would have translated into blowout Republican victories throughout the country. Every Democrat with political skills short of Franklin D. Roosevelt's would have suddenly seemed a "weak candidate." President Obama now is left with three options as he stumbles toward the State of the Union: He can try to ignore the anger, embrace the anger or blunt the anger.

-more-

Gerry Clinchy
01-22-2010, 08:24 PM
Krugman in the NY Times also had an op piece on what O should do. K recommended that he listen to what the electorate was trying to tell him ... that he had to build some trust in the govt (if that is possible), before he lunged ahead without the trust of the voters. Right now, the health care issue has shown everyone DC at its worst, and that doesn't give a feeling of trust.

precisionlabradors
01-22-2010, 08:50 PM
i really don't think the massachusetts election was entirely about anger. there was a great soundbite in the healthcare reform, but i believe brown got elected. if i were brown i would be pissed if nobody legitimized my skills as a candidate and basically saying the only reason i got elected was to stop barack and to serve as a method to demonstrate anger.

could it be that brown simply won? or is he that bad of a candidate that the only way he could get elected is through an anger motivation?

finally, posting of one's own ideas is always nice.
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dixidawg
01-22-2010, 09:03 PM
could it be that brown simply won? or is he that bad of a candidate that the only way he could get elected is through an anger motivation?

finally, posting of one's own ideas is always nice.


Being a bad candidate in Massachusetts has never even slowed down a Democrat in Massachusetts. Remember we elected Michael Dukakis Governor.
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TWICE!!!

Gerry Clinchy
01-23-2010, 08:05 AM
could it be that brown simply won? or is he that bad of a candidate that the only way he could get elected is through an anger motivation?

I spent a lot of time reading reader comments on The Boston Globe article prior to the the election. I'd say there was a lot of anger about the back-room deals that were being done to get the votes for the health care bills. Surely MA voters (and probably a lot of the rest of us) were not happy with NE getting a free ride in perpetuity. If the plan was so great, why would the NE Senator only give his vote if NE were exempt from the Medicaid expense?

Even union workers could be upset that a deal was cut for the upper echelon health plans. I'd guess that not all union workers get the deluxe versions at no cost.

Another stat cited on the MA health plan was that there were something like 100,000 taxpayers who did not qualify for subsidies to purchase health care, but also could not afford the premiums on their own. Not sure what income levels that situation covered, but obviously had to be in a middle-range.

(I do wonder why no one has made any mention of Hawaii's universal coverage. Is it in financial trouble, too? And, therefore, not worth mentioning?)

Also mentioned in several comments was that if Brown turned out to be unsatisfactory, he would only be serving for two years (the unexpired portion of Kennedy's term), and could be replaced. To voters there seemed no doubt that Coakley offered nothing but party-line compliance, and there was some chance that Brown offered some fresh air in the back rooms. They won't stick with Brown if he doesn't prove to be an advocate. They could send a message to the D party, without taking a large risk. I'm sure it didn't hurt that Brown was a likable sort of guy.

There is a definite feeling in the comments about sending a message to D leadership that the voters should not be taken forgranted; that they have noticed the skullduggery in Congress and don't like it.

That said, Brown may actually have some conviction. He worked awfully hard in what most viewed as a hopeless endeavor. He surely knows that he will be watched closely by those who elected him. He may have to work even harder than a D to retain his standing with them.

He took what some would consider unpopular positions in a blue state on some issues. Maybe MA is not as blue was we perceive it to be?

It will be interesting to watch how he does.

subroc
01-23-2010, 09:13 AM
It is not just one thing.

But, the back room deals were right there front and center. In my view, that was a significant part of the swing. That goes well beyond business as usual and treads to an area of arrogance in democrat politicians and a distain for the electorate not seen in my lifetime and I was alive when Nixon was president.

Gerry Clinchy
01-23-2010, 11:09 AM
It is not just one thing.

But, the back room deals were right there front and center. In my view, that was a significant part of the swing. That goes well beyond business as usual and treads to an area of arrogance in democrat politicians and a distain for the electorate not seen in my lifetime and I was alive when Nixon was president.

Would agree that it was such a blatant reneging on "transparency" that was a huge turnoff to many voters.

Eric Johnson
01-23-2010, 11:10 AM
(I do wonder why no one has made any mention of Hawaii's universal coverage. Is it in financial trouble, too? And, therefore, not worth mentioning?)

I haven't seen anything lately but there was a short flurry of coverage last fall that said that Hawaii was being driven to bankruptcy and the Governor knew it.

Went and looked:

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/lessons-from-hawaiis-health-care-system

Eric

Julie R.
01-23-2010, 02:29 PM
Obviously I didn't see all the ads, but I saw a news clip (and no, not on Fox or some conservative talk show!) shortly before the election about how she'd blown a big lead and they showed some of her extremely negative ads. It seemed all or most of her TV ads were devoted to nastiness about her opponent and little if anything about why people should vote for her.

Our Va. gubenatorial ads last year got a bit testy but at least both candidates also regularly ran ads explaining what they planned to do and left out the type of odious personal commentary Coakley used. I think her nasty-gram ad campaign harmed her more than her opponent. I don't think that's the only reason she lost, but I think it turned off a lot of people.

ducknwork
01-23-2010, 02:45 PM
If that was true Julie, nobody would EVER get elected in NC. They would all tie for last place...

Sundown49 aka Otey B
01-23-2010, 02:58 PM
The one thing that jumped out at me in Senator Brown's acceptance speech was the line about spending the money for terrorists a whole lot better on stuff the military needs rather than on lawyers for terrorists. This country needs to quit trying to be so "politically correct" and just do the RIGHT thing.

dixidawg
01-23-2010, 05:25 PM
Obviously I didn't see all the ads, but I saw a news clip (and no, not on Fox or some conservative talk show!) shortly before the election about how she'd blown a big lead and they showed some of her extremely negative ads. It seemed all or most of her TV ads were devoted to nastiness about her opponent and little if anything about why people should vote for her.

Our Va. gubenatorial ads last year got a bit testy but at least both candidates also regularly ran ads explaining what they planned to do and left out the type of odious personal commentary Coakley used. I think her nasty-gram ad campaign harmed her more than her opponent. I don't think that's the only reason she lost, but I think it turned off a lot of people.


You are right. There are negative ads, and then there are NEGATIVE ads. These were so over the top that a lot of people were turned off by them.

road kill
01-23-2010, 05:46 PM
You are right. There are negative ads, and then there are NEGATIVE ads. These were so over the top that a lot of people were turned off by them.

Democrats HAVE to run dirty personal attacks.

They lose on every issue!!:D


rk

subroc
01-23-2010, 06:07 PM
The most obvious part of the ad campaign was the attempt to diminish him for just being a republican. Her spot would start with: Scott Brown…republican and a very pregnant pause as if just the fact that the man is a republican is crime enough. The good people of Massachusetts saw through that tactic.

Gerry Clinchy
01-23-2010, 09:18 PM
I haven't seen anything lately but there was a short flurry of coverage last fall that said that Hawaii was being driven to bankruptcy and the Governor knew it.

Went and looked:

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/l...th-care-system (http://sweetness-light.com/archive/lessons-from-hawaiis-health-care-system)


And, somehow, it is always presumed that if you extend the same program to a larger population, the dynamic will be different.

It would appear that the proposed Fed bill was supposed to correct some of the flaws of the Hawaii plan. Very notable was the fact that ultimately the hospitals could not survive on the payments received from the insurance. With no plan to actually control medical costs (not just pay the providers less) the dog just won't hunt.

Gerry Clinchy
01-25-2010, 07:17 PM
Heard on radio today, that Reid and Pelosi are again (still?) considering trying to get the House to pass the Senate bill (without amendments). Then after it is signed by Obama, they are getting 52 Senators to pledge to "fix" the bill with the items that the House wants (like exemption of the unions from the tax on Cadillac health plans; a larger fine for failure to acquire health insurance; etc.)

Since the House bill, itself, only passed by 5 votes to begin with, do you think the politcians in the House will risk there "electability" this year by cooperating in this? Wonder if those Senators will keep their pledge? The only way it works is if the House members feel they can trust the 52 Senators.

Doing it this way they get around the 60 super-majority requirement because no amendments would be allowed in the House.

huntinman
01-25-2010, 07:22 PM
Heard on radio today, that Reid and Pelosi are again (still?) considering trying to get the House to pass the Senate bill (without amendments). Then after it is signed by Obama, they are getting 52 Senators to pledge to "fix" the bill with the items that the House wants (like exemption of the unions from the tax on Cadillac health plans; a larger fine for failure to acquire health insurance; etc.)

Since the House bill, itself, only passed by 5 votes to begin with, do you think the politcians in the House will risk there "electability" this year by cooperating in this? Wonder if those Senators will keep their pledge? The only way it works is if the House members feel they can trust the 52 Senators.

Doing it this way they get around the 60 super-majority requirement because no amendments would be allowed in the House.

If they do, they better be prepared to find a new job. Pickup driving regards.

YardleyLabs
01-25-2010, 07:40 PM
Heard on radio today, that Reid and Pelosi are again (still?) considering trying to get the House to pass the Senate bill (without amendments). Then after it is signed by Obama, they are getting 52 Senators to pledge to "fix" the bill with the items that the House wants (like exemption of the unions from the tax on Cadillac health plans; a larger fine for failure to acquire health insurance; etc.)

Since the House bill, itself, only passed by 5 votes to begin with, do you think the politcians in the House will risk there "electability" this year by cooperating in this? Wonder if those Senators will keep their pledge? The only way it works is if the House members feel they can trust the 52 Senators.

Doing it this way they get around the 60 super-majority requirement because no amendments would be allowed in the House.
It will be difficult to put together the 218 votes -- harder than getting the 51 needed to pass in the Senate (actually only 50).

It is something of a lose/lose. Had the Democrats stated from the beginning that they would use the reconciliation process to pass the whole program, there would already be a bill and healing would be underway. That was the approach used for the second round of tax cuts by Bush when he could only come up with 50 Senate votes plus Cheney as a tie breaker. By stating his willingness to do that from the beginning, claims that he was short-circuiting Senate rules never really stuck even though public opinion was heavily against the cuts.

In this case, Democrats made it clear that they would take the "high road", relying on their 60 vote majority. What was not factored into their thinking was the price that they would pay in time and "deals" to hold that majority together. By switching gears now, it looks like an effort to railroad the legislation rather than a plan to allow a majority vote to decide the issue -- the explanation given by Bush. That will create negative push back for House Democrats -- who will be named as accomplices. Senate Democrats are not likely to suffer more from such a deal than they will anyway in the absence of a deal. If Pelosi can convince 218 representatives that they will suffer more from no legislation than they will from legislation passed in such controversy, it may work.

I would expect the leadership to try if they can put the votes together. However, part of the deal with the Senate would need to include a public option since that is favored by public opinion and is supported by more than 50 Senators. It wouls also be essential that the Senate vote on modifications be held very quickly following a House vote.

precisionlabradors
01-25-2010, 08:59 PM
You are right. There are negative ads, and then there are NEGATIVE ads. These were so over the top that a lot of people were turned off by them.

almost directly reflective of the 08 presidential campaign. mccain/palin had nothing so it went to the hate ads....and people do see through that. if that was the tactic used in this senate race, the D deserved to lose. people don't wanna hear about how bad the other guy sucks...they wanna hear (at least I do) what YOU are gonna do right.
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Gerry Clinchy
01-25-2010, 09:20 PM
If they do, they better be prepared to find a new job. Pickup driving regards.

All the House seats are up for re-election in 2010; and 33 Senate seats. They'd all be treading on thin ice if they ignore that the public opinion generally feels the bills they have put together are a mish-mash, with too many "exemptions" to make the whole thing effective.

After what they have done to the concept, it seems like it would be impossible to make this work without a public option. OTOH, even a public option would not solve the problem of the cost of the "exemptions".

I would also agree with Jeff that after a "holier than thou" approach at the beginning, if they cut more back-room deals the electorate would be incensed.

It would also be a fracture of the Ds, since Obama, himself, recommended that they wait for the seating of Brown.

dnf777
01-25-2010, 09:30 PM
It is not just one thing.

But, the back room deals were right there front and center. In my view, that was a significant part of the swing. That goes well beyond business as usual and treads to an area of arrogance in democrat politicians and a distain for the electorate not seen in my lifetime and I was alive when Nixon was president.

I would agree with that. There is NO WAY to reconcile these closed room meetings with his previous campaign talk of transparency. None.

I criticized Dick Cheney to no end about his energy policy meetings that were closed door, not even subject to congressional subpoena or review, and now it appears that Obama seems to think its "ok" for him to do it. I will hold Obama to his word, and now criticize him for underhanded politics, and sorry, but I call it lying. How's that for "fair and balanced"?

One last question:
Q: What do Dick Cheney's energy policy meetings and Obama's health care meetings have in common, besides being secretive?

A: Big businesses profited, and we the people got screwed!

YardleyLabs
01-25-2010, 09:47 PM
...
even a public option would not solve the problem of the cost of the "exemptions".

I would also agree with Jeff that after a "holier than thou" approach at the beginning, if they cut more back-room deals the electorate would be incensed.

It would also be a fracture of the Ds, since Obama, himself, recommended that they wait for the seating of Brown.
I agree that any deal needs to drop the exemptions in the Senate bill and that the final Senate vote on the amendments needs to wait until Massachusetts has its new Senator. However, his vote will make no difference for a bill passed as part of budget reconciliation.

TCFarmer
01-25-2010, 11:23 PM
It will be difficult to put together the 218 votes -- harder than getting the 51 needed to pass in the Senate (actually only 50).



Given Obama's recent statements I think they will need 51. I doubt Biden is going to go against the Pres.