Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Voice of reason

Looks like half my Facebook friends are ready to run away from crazy right-wing Massachusetts to a more sane, forward-looking state, like Florida.

"Democracy is dead!"


"Ted Kennedy's work is down the drain!"

Calm down, people. I'm upset and disgusted as you are. I just worked out my frustrations on Wii Sports, so my head is clear and I'm here to serve my usual role: the Voice of "Chill the F*&^ Out."

The 2010 Midterms are 10 months away. An absolute eternity in politics. There are bad signs for the Democrats all over the place, and Scott Brown's victory in communist haven Massachusetts is one of them. Add a bad economy and complete ineffectiveness in Washington and you have quite an angry electorate ready to punish incumbents and/or the incumbent party.

However, this is Massachusetts. They voted for McGovern in 1972. They would have voted for McGovern in 2004, as well, over George Bush. A Democrat starts off with a huge advantage. In baseball terms, the Dem is the closer who comes in with the score 8-2 in the ninth. Most closers finish the job if they have any common sense or a scintilla of ability. Some closers - think Eric Gagne - will find a way to screw it up.

Enter Martha Coakley. She did 19 events after she won the primary. Scott Brown did more than 60. She called Curt Schilling a Yankee fan. She laughed at the thought of shaking hands outside Fenway Park in the cold. She ran no ads until the final few weeks. She went on vacation during the campaign.

She thought, with an 8-2 lead, she wouldn't even have to pitch. And when she realized she had to throw something, she threw junk. And no we're here.

This was an epically bad campaign. It will go in the history books. Brown deserves some credit. He out-worked her by a mile. But he was a no-name state senator with no real record and he even posed nude in a magazine once. Any Dem worth a damn should have beaten him, even in a tough climate. This is Massachusetts after all. But elections aren't handed to anyone (unless you're W. in 2000). Coakley never understood that. I bet she does now.

Nationwide, the Democratic response has been predictable. Finger-pointing, excuse-making, whimpering, pathetic, petty defeatism. Now they only have 59 seats in the Senate! My God! Fifty-nine out of a hundred? That's not a majority!

Not to worry, the Dems know how to fix this. Act more like Republicans. It worked after the 1994 election. The Donkeys retreated to the right and went on to take back Congress in 1996. Oh wait, they didn't. But in 1998, they stampeded to victory. Actually, that never happened. But surely tacking to the right will help you beat Republicans. They'll stop saying mean things about you and then you can beat them. That's how it works. Don't bother standing for actual principals or anything. That never works.

They're playing right into the Republicans hands now, proclaiming the death of health care. Will House progressives pass the imperfect, but still worth passing, health bill the Senate passed, meaning Brown won't be able to scuttle it? Nah. Better to pass nothing, they say. Start over. Or just give up. Read this from Josh Marshall. He sums up what I think perfectly. They have to pass something. They've worked on this for a year. They can't stop now, unless they want to turn a beating in November to a Guadalcanal-level blood bath. Suck it up and pass the bill in its current form. It is the only option.

Too bad Democrats are afraid of their own shadow, the little brother to the Republicans. They're the bank teller that puts up his hands after handing over the money when a conservative points his finger under his shirt to mimic a gun.

"Put 'em up!"

"Of course, sir! Take it all."

They still have 59 seats in the Senate. Bush could never have dreamed of such a margin. Imagine if he had such a majority. Reading would be outlawed, clearing brush would be our national past-time and we'd have invaded Belgium and Peru. With 60 votes (and soon to be 59), Obama and the Blue Team could not pass a "Sun is Hot" bill. Once the first syllable of "filibuster" sputters out of some Ken-doll, car-salesman conservative's mouth, they'd collectively piss their pants and allow that perhaps the sun is not as hot as we once thought. Let's study it and get back to you in 30 years.

Where does this all leave us? There's a Republican (who drives a truck like a true American) in Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Martha Coakley should go out to Idaho with Bill Buckner and never show her face east of the Mississippi again. The Blue Team will cry that they can't do anything because instead of the super-majority, which they used to pass .... nothing, they only have a majority. It would be like the Yankees saying, "We can't win the World Series this year. We lost Jerry Hairston Jr." Fox News will declare the Democrats dead for the next 3,000 years. And they'll demand Obama resign and install G. Gordon Liddy as president. Health care may be passed and some voters might punish the Dems for that. Or health care could die, and the voters WILL annihilate them for it. My Facebook buddies will soon forget this ever happened. Scott Brown will be out of the Senate in three years when he thinks he can vote like James Inhofe and then he'll appear on Fox News as the "moderate" in a balanced panel that includes Genghis Khan, Michelle Malkin and Torquemada.

And we'll still be left with an utterly broken political system, owned by special interests, ruined by the one place where progress goes to die - the United States Senate. We'll still have, as I read somewhere, a bus where every passenger can put on the brakes, making sure the bus goes nowhere. And there's not much we can do.

Despite all this, the Democrats are still better than the Republicans. At least they're trying to reform health care. The Republicans, despite all their years in power, never even bothered. So the Dems are better, just not by enough.

(Maybe I'm not the voice of reason after all.)

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