In the aftermath of Scott Brown’s earthshaking victory over Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race yesterday, a rush of Democrats to the microphones in an effort to pay lip service to the lessons learned in the election has ensued.
That lip service would appear to change the equation in Washington on Obamacare. After all, a change in direction following such a sharp repudiation of Democrat leadership would seem obvious to even the most obtuse political operator. And it’s clear that the president has lost some of the lockstep support he had before Brown’s victory.
Over at Redstate.com, Dan Perrin has a nice wrapup of some of the Democrat babbling:
“There is no plan B,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) said. “There are so many problems with the Senate bill from the House view that they wouldn’t get a 100 votes.”
“After being filled in on the House negotiations with the Senate, Stupak said, “we’re looking at each other like, yeah, well that’s that’s good, but … even if you reach agreement, can you have it done by tomorrow? Because you’re not going to have 60 votes come tomorrow. They filled us in and it was almost like there wasn’t an election in Massachusetts.”
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): “On a substantive level, I think this health care package might be doomed and it might not be the worst thing in the world to step back and say we are going to return with jobs first or we are going to do something that more people have a basic handle on, and then maybe we will return and take a deep breath. We need to get our balance back.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), speaking to the New York Daily News as results were coming in last night, put it bluntly: “If she loses, it’s over.”
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) told a local reporter, “It’s probably back to the drawing board on health care, which is unfortunate.”
Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) told us the results prove that unhappiness with political leaders has “gone mainstream” and could hit anyone.
Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) said “when it happens in Massachusetts, it really throws us a curve. It’s a big deal for a lot of members here.”
“There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up.”
If those quotes are any indication of the mood on the Left side of Capitol Hill, we’re looking at extreme squeamishness on the part of a majority replete with endangered jobs.
But does that squeamishness resonate with the top ranks of the party?
Not with the president, from the looks of it.
Obama, in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos today, launched into a quite delusional riff which indicates he’s on a totally different plane than the average American as to what happened…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Robert Gibbs was saying that you were surprised and frustrated by the vote. Is that accurate?
OBAMA: Well, I think not last night, but certainly I think a lot of us were surprised about where this was going, about a week ago.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you saw it coming by then?
OBAMA: By that time, we did. And here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country.
The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office.
People are angry, and they’re frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.
You’ve got really hard-working folks all across the country, who have seen their wages flat line and their incomes flat line.
They feel more secure than ever. Then suddenly you’ve got this bank crisis in which their 401Ks are evaporating, their home values — their single-biggest investment — is collapsing.
And here in Washington — from their perspective — the only thing that happens is that we bail out the banks.
Our president thinks that the American people are so disgusted at the eight years of George W. Bush that the people of Massachusetts voted in a Republican to the Senate. Get it? He also thinks Scott Brown won because Obama bailed out the banks – before Obama even took office.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But a lot of the Republicans say that the anger goes beyond the bailout. The financial bailout.
I was talking to Michael Steele this morning — the Republican National Committee Chair. He says it’s repudiation of your entire agenda.
OBAMA: Well, I think if he’s suggesting the people voted against credit-card reform, so that credit card companies can’t take advantage of people, or prevention of housing fraud reform, or that they were voting against national service, or they were voting against the 4 million children who have health insurance now because of the steps that we’ve taken… I don’t think that’s a plausible point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s probably talking about healthcare.
OBAMA: Well, and if he’s talking about healthcare, then I think what I’d say is, “Talk to all those people out there right now who have lost their healthcare during the course of this year because they’ve lost their jobs.” Or all the small businesses have seen the premiums that they’re paying going up 20-25 percent.
The reason I tackled healthcare wasn’t because this was my personal hobbyhorse. The reason I tackled it was during the course of the campaign, I traveled all across this country and I kept on hearing heart-breaking stories about families who were bankrupt because they got sick. If they had health insurance, suddenly insurance companies were doing things that were just plain wrong, and were leaving folks in an extremely vulnerable position.
And I was talking to businesses who said this was unsustainable. And, by the way, when I got here and I looked at how we were going to get control of our long-term debt, I realized that there was no way for us to control our long-term debt unless we reformed how our healthcare system works.
So there is no doubt that that is something that we had to do. Not because of what I hear in Washington, but because of what I’ve heard out in the country.
It goes on, and it’s maddening. Obama is completely blind to the fact that Brown’s election comes from people rejecting Obamacare, repudiating the idea of a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, revolting against the idea of Cap And Trade and the EPA attempting to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant amid Climategate and rebuking the Democrats for their refusal to listen to their constituents.
Or it’s worse.
Obama might well understand that the American people oppose him on the great issues of the day, and he just might not give a damn. This is a man who has openly discussed the possibility of being a one-term president and has made a plethora of telltale statements to the effect that he holds Americans in disdain – even as recently as Sunday when he made the mistake of dumping on the fact Scott Brown drives a truck. The political tradition from whence he comes, and even large swaths of his political history, indicates that Obama isn’t much for tough political contests in unfriendly territory. And he could well be the leftist ideologue his most fervent detractors have been saying he is for three years now.
But the upshot of this disconnect could be twofold. First, if Obama continues to show himself incapable of adjusting to the new political reality, he is going to make himself politically radioactive in this fall’s midterm elections; after all, he’s 0-for-3 in campaigning for Democrats in statewide elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts since his inauguration. And second, his complete lack of value to his congressional clients will mean they have to run away from him this year in order to have a chance to get elected. That means Obama will be restricted to a legislative agenda which has none of the left-wing bent he and Nancy Pelosi have had at their forefront in the past year – anything other than an unoffensive centrist program will be dead on arrival not just in a filibustering Senate but in a Blue Dog House as well.
It is painfully obvious that Obama must move to the center. So far that apparent wisdom hasn’t penetrated the Oval Office echo chamber. If things don’t change, there is a very real possibility, if not an outright likelihood, of a failed presidency awaiting the chief executive.