i've watched with frustration for months as democrats—primarily those in the senate, but with assistance of those in the white house and house of representatives—struggled and stumbled to pass health care reform, as they wasted their time trying to negotiate with republicans who would clearly never support reform in any fashion, as they watered it down and traded away much-needed reforms in order to appease the more cowardly in their caucus, as they debated incessantly about a bill they should have been able to pass months ago.
it goes without saying that much of the blame rests with republicans, who have been determined to obstruct and filibuster every part of president obama's agenda, as well as with the national media, which has eagerly embraced right-wing narratives and enabled gop obstructionism, and with senate rules that make it so easy for the minority party to block progress. but ultimately, democrats have been in charge of the white house and both houses of congress, and even their supposed filibuster-proof majority hasn't been enough for them to get this done yet. it should never have come to this; the democrats' strategic choices have led us to this position, where a full year after the 2008 elections, health care reform is still in limbo.
so it's disheartening that ted kennedy's sentate seat has fallen to a republican, that cowardly democrats retreating rather than holding ground, that health care reform appears to be in real danger now that dems "only" have 59 votes in the senate and those in the house are grumbling that they just don't want to pass the senate version of the health care bill. the idea that democrats would allow HCR to fail, now after coming so far, is disheartening to say the least. disheartening not just because the system so desperately needs reform, but because failure to pass some sort of reform is political suicide, effectively telling the electorate that democrats are incapable of getting anything done.
so i was in need of a chuckle this morning, and fortunately, paul ogden delivered. ogden has a habit of pontificating about subjects he doesn't understand and hasn't bothered to study (see his posts on global warming or nonprofit compensation), and his post from this morning about scott brown's win in massachusetts continues that trend.
the crux of his post is his belief that democrats are poised to lose a lot of seats in congress come november—a claim that's likely to come true but which is nonetheless ironic considering that he begins the post by criticizing another blog for making electoral predictions too early. but then, in the middle of his post, he makes this absurd assertion: "President Obama pulled out all stops to hold on to the Democratic seat. The election came down to a referendum on Obama and the health care bill, and the Democrats lost."
how could anyone who paid even the slightest bit of attention to the massachusetts special election claim that obama "pulled out all stops" to hold on to this seat? i ask this as someone who just returned from a week-and-a-half-long vacation, where i didn't follow the news at all, yet still i had to laugh. by all accounts, coakley ran a lousy campaign. president obama wasn't even asked to campaign for coakley until 10 days before the election. on the afternoon of the election, while ballots were still being cast, the coakley campaign sent out a memo blaming obama and the national party for not getting involved soon enough. yet ogden claims that obama "pulled out all stops". did ogden read even a single news report about this race? even by ogden standards, he was hilariously wrong, and i must thank him for the comic relief.
the economy is still bad. unemployment is too high. economists agree that the stimulus has been working, but it was too small. these are problems that the democrats inherited, but they're in charge so they own them now. people are mad about the economy, and yes, if things don't turn around soon, the democrats will surely lose seats come november. but there is still time to reverse the damage, if democrats in congress can find their spines. first, they must buck up and pass health care reform, or else they send a message that they are unable to lead, incapable of getting anything done. then, they must work to fix the unemployment rate. if they do these things, they may stem the tide and hold on to their majorities. the people voted for obama and democrats in 2008 because they were hungry for change. they're still waiting. ¶