With Republican Scott Brown's surprise victory
in the election to fill
Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, Democrats are panicking. Within minutes of Brown's victory, three prominent
Congressional Democrats have already called for health care reform to
be dropped. President Obama and a vast majority of the 312 other
Congressional Democrats have spent close to a year fighting for health
care reform, which until Tuesday's election looked inevitable to pass,
and to pass soon. Could Democrats abandon the issue they've spent so
much time and energy pushing for? Should they?
- Dems Come Out Against Virginia Senator Jim Webb: "I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further
votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated." (This would effectively kill it.) Ohio Senator Evan Bayh: "Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party
attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country -- that's
not going to work too well." New York Rep Anthony Weiner: "I think you can make a pretty good argument that health care might be dead."
- Reverse Would Be Disastrous Talking Points Memo chief Josh Marshall warns nervous Dems they're their own worst enemy. "People don't like politicians who are weak and don't know what they
believe. If the bill was worth passing yesterday, it's just as worth
passing tomorrow," he writes. "If Dems decide to run from the whole project in the face of a single
reverse, what are voters supposed to draw from that? What conclusion
would you draw about an individual in an analogous situation in your
own life? Think about it."
- Suicidal Dems at It Again Jonathan Chait is incredulous. "The GOP's ability to ignore establishment nostrums in the face of
defeat is its great electoral strength. Democrats, by contrast, have a
congenital tendency to panic. Abandoning health care reform after
they've already paid whatever political cost that comes from voting for
it in both houses would be suicide."
- Just an Excuse for Weak Dems Matthew Yglesias thinks
the people calling for reform to be killed wanted that anyway and are
just using this as an excuse. "We're much more likely looking at a
situation where Brown's victory
becomes an excuse for people not to do things they didn't want to do
anyway than a situation where Brown's victory is the actual reason those things can't be done."
- Conservatives Demand Killing It National Review's conservative blogger Yuval Levin insists that Democrats "have made
it impossible for themselves to change course without a massive loss of
face and of political capital. But however costly, that change will now
need to come." Levin is among the many conservatives, long opponents of health care reform, calling for it to be dropped.
- Don't Buy Media Over-Interpretation The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder examines the media's role. "How one interprets the race will determine what effect
it has on Congress, the President and 2010. The media, the cablers, I
predict, will explode in an orgy of over-interpretation; the biggest
upset, turning a complex election into a simple statement or message," he writes. "Democrats tend to panic. Tonight, a
good number will be considering whether they can win in November,
contemplating retirements. Others will be contemplating primary
Anthony Weiner Particularly Disappoints The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn laments
that Rep. Anthony Weiner "suggests on MSNBC that maybe it'd really be
better to drop health
care reform--and pivot to jobs. At a moment like this, it's precisely
that sort of talk that can push wavering members one way or the other.
I expected that sort of talk from the likes of Senator Evan Bayh, who
never showed much enthusiasm for health care reform anyway. I expected
more from Weiner." Cohn writes that Weiner long championed health care
reform and had compromised when necessary.
- This Only Kills Health Care If Dems Let It The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains. "The short-term danger of a Scott Brown victory is not Scott Brown in
the Senate, or even 41 Republicans in the Senate. It's Democrats freaking out and
abandoning the House bill. But on the merits, this is just absurd." He elaborates with his own warning,
There's nothing about Scott Brown's victory that needs to derail
health-care reform in particular, or the rest of Obama's 2010 agenda in
general. But if Democrats decide to cower and hide, they can end
Obama's presidency on Brown's behalf. That said, I really wonder what the Democratic Caucus thinks will
happen if they let health-care reform slip away and walk into 2010
having wasted a year of the country's time amidst a terrible recession.
It won't be pretty, I imagine. If health-care reform passes, the two
sides can argue over whether it was a success. If it fails, there's no
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.