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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama Goes To Massachusetts

So with polls showing a very close Senate race in Massachusetts, the President’s decided to go campaign for Democrat Martha Coakley this Sunday, two days before the special election.
He will be second-guessed for this decision, on grounds that he will now “own” the results. But I don’t think he really has any choice.
Special elections are “about” turnout, and there’s zero question that only a highly disproportionate turnout rate between Ds and Rs can produce a win by Republican Scott Brown. There’s nothing quite like presidential involvement to raise the stakes of an election for voters, and I doubt seriously Bay State GOPers can get any more motivated than they already are.
Sure, you can say that Coakley’s languid campaign got her into this position, and that Democrats nationally, including the President, don’t deserve any of the blame if she loses. But anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that a Brown victory would be widely interpreted as a personal setback for Obama–not to mention an immediate problem in terms of enacting legislation in the Senate–isn’t really thinking this through.
We’re getting to the point where the president is no longer in a position to hoard political capital; he needs to create some. And Massachusetts is one place where he could and should be able to do that.

6 comments on “Obama Goes To Massachusetts

  1. peter sisk on

    I voted for her, but I think Martha Coakley was a terrible choice and a terrible candidate. She was smug, puffed up with a sense of entitlement, unable to articulate her positions clearly or defend them credibly. If she’s the best candidate we can field for a critical seat at a critical time, we should prepare ourselves for another generation or two of kleptocratic crony capitalism under a Republican administration.
    Question for Imn2Paine: why is forking over to rich freeloaders OK while taking care of the poor and supporting the middle class is not?

    Reply
  2. George Ortega on

    Imn2Paine,
    As you stand against our paying to provide for the poor, you might consider that no one chooses to be poor. Contrary to popular opinion, we human beings do not have a free will to be and do as we would like. Our genes (nature) and our past experiences (nurture) completely determine who we are, and what we will or will not do.
    If the Mass. race is not about Coakley, it’s also not about health care. It’s more fundamentally about the basic premises upon which we have created our society. One of them, the belief that we humans have the power to freely choose who we will become and what we will thereafter do, is as false as the literal belief in an Adam and Eve, and a Garden of Eden, or the belief in a flat Earth.
    It’s unfortunate that so much of politics is predicated upon an aspect of our world that science fully understands (except, of course, those scientists whose religious or philosophical beliefs over-ride their scientific background and reasoning), and the rest of us are almost completely ignorant of.
    This is, or course, not the Democrats, or the Republicans, or anyone else’s fault. I’m not sure we can even rightly say its God’s or the universe’s fault. It is just the way our world has come to be at this point in time.
    If and when humanity finally overcomes this insidiously harmful notion of free will, you might better understand the logic behind our tending to those least fortunate among us.
    By the way, if you’d like to read a good book that explains in clear scientific terms how it is actually unconscious processes that are responsible for EVERY choice we make, you might consider Harvard psychologist Daniel M. Wegner’s 2002, The Illusion of Conscious Will.

    Reply
  3. Imn2Paine on

    BTW
    I am a Coakley supporter.
    My comment above was relative to the voice of my moderate and conservative (Reagan Democrats) brothers.
    I dislike the notion of a Brown victory.

    Reply
  4. Imn2Paine on

    The race is not about Martha Coakley! She may be what the Republican dominated/produced media/frame portrays her to be (common/not dynamic/victory expected), but the voters here are tired of forking out to the less advantaged.
    Section 8 is a better deal than working for a living! Illegals do better than or equal to middle income citizens! You want health coverage? …FOR FREE [working folks and income (the “ownership society”) folks alike pay for it]!!!
    A better gig for who?
    Democrats in Mass. are moderate and don’t want to fork over for freeloaders, which is what may yield.
    God help the Democrats!

    Reply
  5. George Ortega on

    If Brown wins, Obama and our Democratic Leaders deserve the blame, not Coakley. They should have been much more invested in her campaign from the very beginning. That’s their job.
    If Brown wins, Obama and Reid have a simple choice before them; They can allow Republican Senators to filibuster all major legislation during 2010, which is not a choice at all since it would spell disaster for Democratic candidates in both the Senate and the House in November, or they can change the senate rules on filibusters through means as simple as one recently advanced in a New York Times Op-Ed by Tom Geoghegan;
    “The president of the Senate, the vice president himself, could issue an opinion from the chair that the filibuster is unconstitutional. Our first vice presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, felt a serious obligation to resolve the ties and tangles of an evenly divided Senate, and they would not have shrunk from such a challenge.”
    Or through the strategy Jamie Court described in The Huffington Post;
    “Rule 22 of the Senate, governing filibusters, can be changed or eliminated by a simple majority according to the US Supreme Court in U.S. v. Ballin (1892). Senate rules call for 67 to change the cloture rule, but Democrats should be able to rewrite the rules since they control the Rules Committee. Rule 22 can go out the door all together or be modified. Republicans under Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist threatened to blow up the filibuster in 2005 with far fewer numbers.”
    Or they could rely on the “Nuclear,” or “Constitutional” option. A 2005 report by Betsy Palmer highlights how this would be done. This strategy would have to wait until the new Congress convenes in 2011, and would therefore represent a retributive rather than a pre-emptive response to Republican obstructionism. Palmer describes it;
    “One example of the “constitutional” or “nuclear” option revolves on the argument that, on the first day of a new Congress, Senate rules, including Rule XXII, the cloture rule, do not yet apply, and thus can be changed by majority vote.”
    If Coakley wins, Democrats can pass major legislation in 2010. If Brown wins, Republicans have the choice in 2010 of allowing Obama to address our pressing concerns like jobs, education and climate change, or block these efforts and thereby force his and Reid’s hand. If Brown wins and Republicans continue to obstruct the Democratic agenda, Obama and Reid will have every good reason, and no reasonable choice but, to change the filibuster rule.
    In fact, it might actually work out better in the long run if Brown wins and the Democrats are then forced to change the filibuster rule.

    Reply
  6. ducdebrabant on

    If Massachusetts voters, having passed health insurance reform for themselves, vote to deny it to the rest of Americans, I won’t be able to think of words bad enough for them.

    Reply

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