Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Massachusetts elects a tea-party Republican who once posed nude as a replacement for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.

Oh, boy. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder, this happens. Everyone and their brother already had their spin on this one mapped out long ago. Republicans, of course, are claiming that this represents a total repudiation of everything that the Obama administration was trying to accomplish, especially healthcare reform. Many progressives are claiming that Obama deserted his progressive base, the one that really turned out to elect him in 2008, so they stayed home and all the true independent voters decided that the Republican in the race was the true anti-establishment candidate.

Truthfully, I have no idea what it all means. Since I always go for “the answer is likely to be more complex than it is to be very simple” approach, I would guess that, whatever rationale a person might come up with for what occurred in Massachusetts, it is probably true for at least some section of the electorate. Me, I am just dumbfounded that the state that I considered to be the most liberal in the country just elected a tea-party Republican who brings along lots and lots of baggage to replace Ted Kennedy, of all people. Kennedy’s passion was healthcare reform, and the results of this special election are likely to kill any chance of that happening. But what it means for the future and for the country as a whole, I have absolutely no idea, other than the Democrats better watch out.

I really doubt that even this severe of a wake-up call that pulls the rug out from any notion that the ever did have that mythical “60 vote super-majority” in the Senate will motivate the Democrats to use reconciliation (which means they can pass legislation with just a regular old run-of-the-mill 51-49 majority) to pass healthcare reform. The Democrats are just that gutless, afraid of offending someone (who, I don’t really know). I do know that Republicans never had and never will have any such self-imposed limitation, as they used reconciliation on numerous occasions to pass their legislation such as Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy without bringing in other sources of revenue. That alone is one big reason why the deficit that President Obama is currently wrestling with is so huge. Yet one more example of IOKIYAAR (It’s O.K. If You Are A Republican). I have no idea where the healthcare package that is currently in negotiation between the two Houses of Congress might end up now, but I would bet even money it won’t be improved through the use of reconciliation. I think the absolute best-case scenario right now is that the Democrats in the House swallow whatever bitterness they already feel about the process and just vote Yes on the version passed by the Senate. That, at least, is a doable scenario and it doesn’t require getting people like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Susan Collins to vote for something that you know they absolutely will not support.

Why is it that the world always presents so much turmoil and the chance to totally screw things up for the Democrats, even when the last two national elections pretty much gave them a mandate to finally accomplish many items on their agenda? It’s the Republican Party that is currently resembles a zoo whose attendants left all the doors to the cages open and all the animals, who haven’t been fed in weeks, are roaming free. The Tea-Party brigade is attempting to take over the actual machinery of the Republican Party, while the Republican Party itself is trying to co-opt the outrage and energy provided by their Tea-Party promoting base. The Republican Party looks to be imploding, and this special election in Massachusetts once again shows the Democratic Party to be run by a bunch of incompetent boobs.

Will Sarah Palin be the Republican Party’s candidate in the 2012 presidential election? Could she win? It beats the hell out of me. In a sane world, the answers to both of these questions would be an unqualified “Hell, no!” But this is not a sane world. Who knows what the electorate of this country is actually thinking or might do in the future? It’s a total mystery. It would be downright amusing to watch all of this play out, if this were some farcical comedic film. But as it appears the direction of that this country could go is currently resting on a knife’s edge. One little nudge could cause it to go hard-over, one way or the other. I was really hoping that the nudge might have been the 2008 presidential election. However, it now appears that is not the case. Let’s hope that nudge was also not the 2010 special election in Massachusetts.

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