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Friday, January 22nd 2010

Who Those Dems?

Much has been made of Senator-elect Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, especially concerning its effect on the future of health care reform.

Their options are few, and extremely complex, mostly involving legislative tactics that would be difficult to pull off in the best of circumstances, let alone at a time when members are worried they could be the next Martha Coakley – a seeming Democratic shoo-in laid low, in part, by health reform.

And already Tuesday night, Democrats were being forced to come to terms with the prospect that their decades-long goal of health reform might once again fall short, despite getting closer to becoming law than ever before.

Since the initial shock of the loss things have not significantly improved. That’s a stunning admission, that Democratic majorities in the House and Senate may not come through to muster anything of health care reform. Their options are well spelled out across the blogosphere but essentially include the House passing the Senate bill as is, reconciliation or scaling down health care reform to something that could attract a bipartisan vote in the Senate.

Pelosi has been public and clear that she does not think she has the votes in the House for the Senate bill.

That in and of itself should be stunning and dismaying to Democrats and liberals. When history is finally written the political story of my generation is going to be the indecisiveness, incohesiveness and just plain terrible political game played by the Democratic Congressional caucus. In power and out of it Democratic Congressional leadership has been a sham. Gentleman Sam, who?

The fact a generational President, who stepped in with broad support and a Speaker who led her party to historic gains in the House can’t coerce groups like the Blue Dogs and Stupak’s gang into support what is, at least percieved, as once in a lifetime legislation is nothing short of political failure.

Even as the horror of the loss of Kennedy’s former seat wears off the Democrats remain divided and confused and generally thunderstruck. From the DCCC chair to Senator Dodd to comments from Republicans (mp3), there shouldn’t be a lot of hope from liberals.

As John Stewart says, “See, it’s not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It’s that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse’s office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.”

Democrats have to elect some actual politicians to leadership roles.

I continue to be of the mindset that meaningful reform was dead long ago. The Senate bill doesn’t offer a lot of hope for cost containment, and thus in the long run, improving access to care. That’s for another post however. I’m merely perpetually surprised the Democrats can’t even get the minimum the Senate managed to squeeze out onto the books.

It goes beyond the Capitol, to Democratic allies who have done just a terrible job with the message to the public.

I’m hardly crying over such; I don’t support reform. But I’m surprised I’m getting my wish.