Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Josh Carples: Cutting through the Massachusetts senate race hype

  Let's be real about the Massachusetts senate race for a second. If Martha Coakley was serious about winning, she would have done some things differently.

  Whether it was her directly or her handlers, she allowed her campaign to come across as arrogant and out-of-touch with regular people. Complaining about having to shake hands in the cold and relying completely on the “star power” of the big-name Democrats to stump for her – rather than her getting out there herself like her opponent did – allowed her to come across that way, not to mention taking a week vacation between the recent primary (Dec. 8) and the election (Jan. 19).

  Those campaign failures, along with not resonating with voters, will make any progress of the president's agenda more difficult – not that things were going smoothly to begin with.

  While we're being honest, we may as well address the fact that the 60-vote super-majority was a myth to begin with. Lieberman being a prime example for two reasons – he is an independent, not a Democrat, and when it came to health care, he was one of the main opponents for most of the debate. Some people look at Democratic Senators Evan Bayh and Jim Webb in a similar light. Also, if the super-majority wasn't a myth, you never would have heard the term “Cornhusker Kickback.” If you haven’t heard that term, it’s a nickname Republicans have given the deal Senate leadership made with Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to get his vote on health care reform. The deal involved the federal government paying the state’s Medicaid share for a few years.

  It’s been said that all politics is local. Making this race into a national issue about President Obama, as most of the news media have done so far, seems a bit premature. Yesterday’s vote was not a national election – it was a state election involving 1/100th of the seats in the U.S. Senate.

  Also, when discussing the issue of health care reform and a Massachusetts senate race in the same article, the true irony is that a few years ago, the state of Massachusetts enacted health care reform under Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. It was treated almost as the state of Alabama treats car insurance – it was mandatory, and it created universal coverage. Of course, all this happened before Romney decided to run for president in the 2008 Republican primary and had to nudge his views – some might say “flip-flop” - to the right.

  So the basic question is this: Why would a new Republican senator from Massachusetts care about health care reform anyway when his constituents are already covered under the state’s universal system?

  The truth is that he doesn’t have to care. His job is to represent the people of Massachusetts and look out for their interests. Whether people in Alabama or any state have access to affordable health care or not is not his problem. His people are covered.

  You can buy into the premature hype that the Republican win in this race came down entirely to Obama or national issues like health care, but the bottom line is that Scott Brown connected with his state’s voters and campaigned like he wanted to win.

  About the author: Josh Carples is the managing editor of the Capital City Free Press.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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