Beyond a pleasing sight for the heart, what would Ted Kennedy’s seat going Republican really mean?
First, there would be the psychological effect.
On Democratic donors — it would discourage them from opening their checkbooks. On Republican donors — the impact would be electric in kindling their interest and generosity. On Democratic incumbents seeking re-election — it would make the beaches and golf courses that await them in their Florida retirement homes (and the lucrative lobbying jobs in Washington) infinitely more attractive. On Republicans considering running for the House and the Senate — it will help them see the truth: That their time is at hand! (It might even help our esteemed Party Chairman Michael Steele, realize that we can capture both houses this year!)
But in the Senate itself, it would really signal the end of Obama’s legislative dominance. He’ll probably be able to pass health care either by Democratic dithering in certifying Brown’s election or by ramming through the bill while he’s en route to Washington on the shuttle.
But, beyond that, the prospects of getting 60 votes on the remaining items in Obama’s legislative agenda: cap and trade, union card check, and immigration reform would slip away with the Massachusetts result.
He cannot govern through reconciliation (passing bills with 51 votes by pretending they are just budget bills). If it were that easy, why would Harry Reid have worked so hard – and so successfully – to bribe Senators Landrieu (D-La), Lincoln (D-Ark) and Nelson (D-Neb)? Why would he have caved in to the demands of Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman and discarded the public option much to the chagrin of his House colleagues?
A victory for Scott Brown would represent the Gettysburg of the Obama Administration – its high water mark, its tipping point.
But even more corrosive for Obama and the Democrats is the knowledge that nobody is safe from Republican assault. If the GOP can win a Senate seat in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, it can win anywhere, anytime, against anyone. Long term Democratic incumbents from largely Republican districts would have to rethink their loyalty to Reid and Pelosi. Particularly in the House, it will be ever more difficult to round up majorities for Administration bills. Politicians will start running for cover and hiding in the cloakrooms.
Democrats will try to spin their defeat by blaming their candidate, Martha Coakley, for not campaigning hard enough. They will say that they lost because their base did not turn out and that the solution is to pass ever more radical legislation in the hopes of rekindling their fervor. But losing Massachusetts, on top of Virginia and New Jersey, will convince even the most loyal Democrat that the handwriting is, indeed, on the wall.
For all of these reasons, please make an effort today to telephone or e-mail any friends, family or colleagues you know in Massachusetts to urge them to come out and vote for Scott Brown. There is so very much at stake!
co-written with Eileen McGann