With Republican Scott Brown's surprise victory in the election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, Democrats are panicking. Within minutes of Brown's victory, three prominent Congressional Democrats have already called for health care reform to be dropped. President Obama and a vast majority of the 312 other Congressional Democrats have spent close to a year fighting for health care reform, which until Tuesday's election looked inevitable to pass, and to pass soon. Could Democrats abandon the issue they've spent so much time and energy pushing for? Should they?
- Dems Come Out Against Virginia Senator Jim Webb: "I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated." (This would effectively kill it.) Ohio Senator Evan Bayh: "Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country -- that's not going to work too well." New York Rep Anthony Weiner: "I think you can make a pretty good argument that health care might be dead."
- Reverse Would Be Disastrous Talking Points Memo chief Josh Marshall warns nervous Dems they're their own worst enemy. "People don't like politicians who are weak and don't know what they believe. If the bill was worth passing yesterday, it's just as worth passing tomorrow," he writes. "If Dems decide to run from the whole project in the face of a single reverse, what are voters supposed to draw from that? What conclusion would you draw about an individual in an analogous situation in your own life? Think about it."
- Suicidal Dems at It Again Jonathan Chait is incredulous. "The GOP's ability to ignore establishment nostrums in the face of defeat is its great electoral strength. Democrats, by contrast, have a congenital tendency to panic. Abandoning health care reform after they've already paid whatever political cost that comes from voting for it in both houses would be suicide."
- Just an Excuse for Weak Dems Matthew Yglesias thinks the people calling for reform to be killed wanted that anyway and are just using this as an excuse. "We're much more likely looking at a situation where Brown's victory becomes an excuse for people not to do things they didn't want to do anyway than a situation where Brown's victory is the actual reason those things can't be done."
- Conservatives Demand Killing It National Review's conservative blogger Yuval Levin insists that Democrats "have made it impossible for themselves to change course without a massive loss of face and of political capital. But however costly, that change will now need to come." Levin is among the many conservatives, long opponents of health care reform, calling for it to be dropped.
- Don't Buy Media Over-Interpretation The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder examines the media's role. "How one interprets the race will determine what effect it has on Congress, the President and 2010. The media, the cablers, I predict, will explode in an orgy of over-interpretation; the biggest upset, turning a complex election into a simple statement or message," he writes. "Democrats tend to panic. Tonight, a good number will be considering whether they can win in November, contemplating retirements. Others will be contemplating primary challenges."
- Anthony Weiner Particularly Disappoints The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn laments that Rep. Anthony Weiner "suggests on MSNBC that maybe it'd really be better to drop health care reform--and pivot to jobs. At a moment like this, it's precisely that sort of talk that can push wavering members one way or the other. I expected that sort of talk from the likes of Senator Evan Bayh, who never showed much enthusiasm for health care reform anyway. I expected more from Weiner." Cohn writes that Weiner long championed health care reform and had compromised when necessary.
- This Only Kills Health Care If Dems Let It The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains. "The short-term danger of a Scott Brown victory is not Scott Brown in the Senate, or even 41 Republicans in the Senate. It's Democrats freaking out and abandoning the House bill. But on the merits, this is just absurd." He elaborates with his own warning,
There's nothing about Scott Brown's victory that needs to derail health-care reform in particular, or the rest of Obama's 2010 agenda in general. But if Democrats decide to cower and hide, they can end Obama's presidency on Brown's behalf. That said, I really wonder what the Democratic Caucus thinks will happen if they let health-care reform slip away and walk into 2010 having wasted a year of the country's time amidst a terrible recession. It won't be pretty, I imagine. If health-care reform passes, the two sides can argue over whether it was a success. If it fails, there's no argument.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.