Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The Senate race in Massachusetts was so far from my mind that until a few days ago the names of the candidates were not known to me, only recognized in reading from time to time. This could be a phenomenal upset was the thought as I followed the news over the weekend. Then Jon Stewart explained the story last night. There's not much to add.

Listening to some of the post-mortem dicussions tonight, I was disturbed that my strongest opinion about the outcome was mentioned by one of the commentors. Drats, but here it is anyway. The buying off of the Senators, Democratic Senators for crying out loud, in order to get the votes needed to pass the Senate version of the bill without filibuster was, what's a good word, is nauseating strong enough. Harry Reid more or less said that's just the way things work around here, always has been, brushed it off. The blackmailing Senators actually took pride in what they did, bragged about it. What ever happened to those back rooms. President Obama said nothing, just accepted it. If Bush 43, with his Cheney and Rove thugs, had a Republican Senator who threatened to break up a bill like that it was a different story. When the errant Senator got off the phone they would know that any patronage, courtesy, or largesse for him or his state was down the drain, gone for the rest of Bush's tenure unless they joined in. Maybe that's not pretty either, but it was behind the scenes. The Obama pay-offs were right out there for all to see; he did vow to bring about transparency and the whole country saw it. It was disgusting and was, I think, the turning point that sent Scott Brown on his 18% point pick up in 18 days.

What else was it. Has Massachusetts ever elected a woman to be a member of Congress or a Governor or a Boston mayor. It's a liberal state in a union sort of way, but it is a guy's state in a big way. The woman that they were supposed to elect turned out to be a terrible on the ground candidate. Massachusetts loves their big gladhanding politicians and she was not one at all.

My opinion, the health care bill was an issue but not the biggest one. It is for the country, but that wasn't the only issue or even key issue in this campaign. If it is a factor in Brown's election it may be because the state's citizens already have coverage for pre-existing conditions, portability, and broad based insurance. That wasn't their issue unless they wised up and realized that they did not want to take the risk of higher federal taxes to help pay for giving the rest of the country what they already have.

Then there is the economy and jobs. That creates an undercurrent of resentment that can help the underdog, especially if somehow word gets around that the favorite is taking the voters for granted, whether that's true or not(seems to be though). That Brown will likely turn out to be the type of Republican that speaks loudly and carries a little stick when it comes to business is not going to make them happy.

The good news is that this may wake up the Democrats. They have been squabbling among themselves in Congress for the last twelve months with Nancy Pelosi leading the way and a number of Senators like the thankfully retiring Chris Dodd always trying to get their mugg in the picture and upstage the President.

The health care bill is a mess. There is little indication that there is a focus on controlling costs and every indication that it is daunting in its complexity, but the pluses of having the basics like portability, insurability for pre-existing conditions, and widespread coverage make some form of the bill worth passing to get a start on this. Even though a major component of their campaign financing comes from trial lawyers, the Democrats do need to suck it up and add some element of tort reform to any bill if they don't want to be obviously two-faced. It's an important part of cost control(massive judgements, defense lawyer fees, and malpractive insurance costs)as well as controlling the number of unnecessary tests and procedures.

So now we have the first Senator who has been a centerfold.


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