Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts changed it political color Tuesday night from blue to red. The Republican won - decisively. That may put a blue pall over the White House and leave a few faces red with embarrassment. President Obama's for one. The senator-elect from the Bay state, Scott Brown, put it best in his exuberant acceptance speech when he said Air Force One made an "emergency" landing in Massachusetts to no avail for loser Martha Coakely.
More important, the Democrat thrashing in Massachusetts already has left so-called blue dog Democrats like Evan Bayh finding excuses to back away from the monstrosity of a healthcare bill, that up until the Massachusetts rout, Bayh had steadfastly supported, even though he admitted in a December 21 statement, "The health reform debate epitomizes all that frustrates the American people, including me, about Congress and Washington D. C....the national interest has been held hostage to personal and parochial concerns."
But Bayh dutifully cast his vote anyway, concluding in his milk toast statement the bill would lower the deficit, keep insurance companies from dropping coverage, and help small business; benefits disputed by the Congressional Budget Office and small business representatives.
Now that Brown's election has caused a major political earthquake in Washington, Bayh is trying to find safe ground to protect his own reelection chances in November. He noted ignoring the message sent by Massachusetts voters could be "catastrophic."
Senator Bayh appears to be finally suffering from a mild case of cold reality.
Fellow blue dog, Sen. Jim Webb, D-VA., who also dutifully voted for the Senate version of healthcare in December, took a different tact, calling for a suspension of any votes on healthcare until Brown is seated. I salute him for that because it is the right and fair thing to do.
On the surface it would appear Bayh and Webb have overdosed on Boniva to strengthen their political spines. It is not hard to get a spine when you know your majority leader and the White House are considering the nuclear option (also known as reconciliation), a maneuver requiring only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass the bill one final time. It is a tactic that might not sit well with most Americans or the Republican opposition, but might offer the spineless likes of Bayh and Webb political cover since their votes may not be needed to approve a bill that threatens to eviscerate the American healthcare system and our pocketbooks.
Bayh had his chance to show courage in December. A bill with which he claimed to find so many faults was, in his words, still better than doing nothing.
Well, doing nothing is what the American public seems to prefer in light of skyrocketing deficits.
I have to wonder if Senator Bayh doesn't regret not doing what we suggested in an earlier blog - that he be the one Democrat to cast the 41st vote against healthcare. Unfortunately for Bayh, Reid, Pelosi and Obama, Scott Brown does promise to be that 41st vote against healthcare, that is, if Harry Reid and company fail at invoking the nuclear option.

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