Somebody's Webpage on Twitter Somebody's Webpage on Facebook Somebody's Webpage on Patreon
Serious Stuff

Taking a Leak on Ted Kennedy's Grave

by Somebody Else
January 20, 2010

Yesterday night, the people of Massachusetts, who only a little more than a year earlier voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a whopping 26 percent margin, decided that they didn't like Democratic candidate Martha Coakley as much as Republican Scott Brown. So, they gave the election to Brown with 52 percent of the vote to Coakley's 47 percent. So what, right? No big deal, then?

I suppose not, provided that you don't consider it a big deal for Obama's top legislative priorities to now effectively be dead in the water for the foreseeable future.

Without a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, which was a very tentative thing at best considering that it consisted of people such as Joe Liebermann and Ben Nelson, the main Democratic agenda is doomed to failure, since the Republicans have shown rigorous discipline in blocking every major initiative coming out of the White House.

True, Republican Olympia Snowe did for awhile show some promise of supporting health care reform, but once her trigger option was taken off the table, she was no longer in play.

What are the odds of any Republicans breaking ranks to join with Democrats on any major piece of legislation? Pretty close to zero, if you ask me. It's either 60 or nothing for the Senate Democrats. And with Ted Kennedy's old seat going to Scott Brown, the number of Democratic Senators stands at 59, not 60. Here is the translation. Fifty-nine won't cut it for anything. Fifty-nine means nothing significant for the Democrats in Congress, which also amounts to nothing significant for Barack Obama to sign into law.

This defeat in Massachusetts is, in an important sense, the end of the road for Barack Obama.

Sure, he has three more years left in this presidential term. But let's be clear. He will not get any transformative legislation passed in Congress from now until the end of his first, and quite possibly last presidential term. Barring some unexpected turn of events, Democrats stand to suffer significant losses in the upcoming November congressional elections. Without 60 Senate Democrats to back his initiatives, Obama shouldn't waste his time trying to pass anything momentous. It would be a pointless exercise.

What makes all of this so particularly ironic?

Let's not forget that Ted Kennedy struggled for decades to realize his dream of universal health care. Afflicted with terminal brain cancer, agonizing upon his deathbed, and watching Obama's health care proposal work its way through both chambers of Congress with some tentative degree of success, he called out to his fellow residents of Massachusetts and asked them to carry through to completion his cherished desire to improve access to healthcare for the less fortunate among us.

Ah, if only he had managed to live a bit longer.

Massachusetts sincerely mourned the passing of this great and noble man, of a Senator that was unafraid to stand up for those among us who have little money, no political connections, no special advantages, and no helpers or assistants save our own personal integrity, our personal faith, and the goodwill of political leadership that is more interested in doing what is ethically and morally right than in doing what is pleasing to the leaders of industry and the guardians of amassed wealth. Massachusetts voted for him time and time again. Massachusetts loved and admired him, for the most part.

Then, Democrat Martha Coakley ran for the Senate seat that came open because of Ted Kennedy's death. At first, her victory seemed to be a foregone conclusion. After all, the most logical thing was to suppose that the good people of Massachusetts would support the candidate whose political views and priorities most closely resembled those of the late Ted Kennedy. After all, they had voted for him time and time again, they knew very well his views on health care reform, and certainly none of the people who had voted him into office desired his untimely death. Undoubtedly, they were acquainted with the endless delays involved in cobbling together a health care proposal in the House and Senate, and surely they understood that had a bill only been presented a few months earlier, Ted Kennedy would have voted for it.

Therefore, how do we explain Republican Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley? They knew very well that Brown was completely and unequivocally opposed to the health care proposal heading for final approval in Congress. The certainly understood that voting him into office meant putting an end to health care reform for a very long time. What were the people of Massachusetts thinking? Or maybe that's the thing. Maybe they weren't thinking at all.

People can be so irrational. Maybe some voters thought that Scott Brown was a good-looking guy. Maybe they felt attracted to his big smile. Maybe he exuded a kind of self-confidence that they could respond to and relate to. Maybe Martha Coakley seemed rather stiff, nervous, and distant. Maybe she didn't come across so much as a candidate of the people as Brown did. Maybe Brown just quite simply did a better job of making voters feel that he was where the real action was. And people almost always want to be where all the action is. So, a whole lot of voters got caught up in the wave of excitement that was coming off of Brown and said, hey everyone, let's vote for Brown, he's a man of the people, yeah! So, they voted for him.

And in the process, they took a great big, steamy leak upon Ted Kennedy's snow-covered grave.

So, if you were to tell them, "Hey, I assume you understand that you just killed Ted Kennedy's dream for health care reform by voting for that guy," their response would be all-too-predictable:

"That's not my problem, buddy! I just liked Brown better than Coakley, and I can vote for whomever I damn well please. Don't blame me for killing health care reform. If Democrats didn't want to lose their 60-seat supermajority in the Senate, they should have come up with somebody better than Coakley to run for Ted Kennedy's old seat."

I must admit that, in a rather superficial analysis, there is some significant logic in thinking that way. Ideally, yes, we should vote for a candidate because we respond positively to that person, not because of any one specific legislative proposal making its way through Congress.

However, let's be for real. Personal charisma is a great political asset, just ask Barack Obama himself. But in the end, as we should all realize, the issues are what matter most.

Unfortunately, a majority of Massachusetts voters couldn't see past the gloss, the window dressing, basically, all the superficial aspects of two candidates, in order to truly understand what was really, really at stake in the election, which was a great opportunity for improving the quality of life for millions upon millions of underserved American citizens.

So, Massachusetts now gets Scott Brown's magnetic smile, poise, warm self-confidence, and dashing good looks, which will do absolutely nothing to provide quality medical insurance to those who presently cannot afford it, which will do absolutely nothing to put a stop to global warming, which will do absolutely nothing to stop the worst abuses of the financial industry, in summary, which will do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of life for anyone anywhere except for those making a lot more money each year than the vast majority of the rest of us.

And Ted Kennedy's grave gets an icy crust of frozen pee on top of it.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...