Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Massachusetts Democrats elected Scott Brown

There are so many items on the agenda today that I don't have time to get to all of them. Let's start with a little Law of Unintended Consequences consideration.

So let me start with this statement: Democrats, both in Massachusetts and in the Federal Government, are responsible for the election of Scott Brown.

Here's why:

Q: Why is Scott Brown the Senator-elect from Massachusetts today?
A: He won the special election to fill the seat left vacant when Ted Kennedy died.

Q: He won in Massachusetts? How did that happen?
A: It was the only election in the country, and drew national attention, as well as millions of dollars of donations from all over.

Q: That's it? It was the only election?
A: Well, that's not the only thing. A significant majority has been offended by the actions of the Senate Democrats and the President over the past two months as they've attempted to force through a health care "reform" bill that the electorate has clearly decided it doesn't want. That energized people so that everyone who wanted that bill stopped saw Scott Brown as a way to do it.

Q: Why was the election held in January when Federal elections generally take place in November?
A: Senator Kennedy died in August, and the law required that they hold a special election within 145 days of a vacancy.

Q: Doesn't the governor normally appoint an interim Senator until the next Federal election?
A: In most states, that is the case. It was the case in Massachusetts, as well, until 2004.

Q: What happened in 2004?
A: The Democrats in the state house, thinking that John Kerry might win the White House and fearing that Governor Mitt Romney would appoint a Republican who would hold that Senate seat for two years, changed the law1, and overrode a gubernatorial veto, to require a special election.

Q: Wait a minute - if the Democrats changed the law to remove appointment power, what has Paul Kirk been doing in Washington?
A: Well, when Ted Kennedy got sick, the Democrats feared that a vote may come up on health care reform between the time of his death and the holding of the special election, so they changed the law again2, allowing for the appointment of an interim Senator.


There are several alternate scenarios under which the Democrats would still hold that Senate seat. But the Law of Unintended Consequences is relentless and remorseless.

Alternate scenario 1: The Democrats don't play politics and change the law in 2004. Upon Kennedy's death, Deval Patrick appoints an interim Senator who will be up for re-election in November of 2010, along with 33 other Senators and every member of the House of Representatives.

Alternate scenario 2: Senator Kennedy resigns upon being diagnosed in May of 2008. The seat is filled during the November 2008 election that saw Barack Obama win the White House. The Democratic candidate, whether Martha Coakley or someone else, wins handily in a race that draws little attention inside the state and no national coverage.

Alternate scenario 3: The Democrats don't play politics and change the law in 2009. The seat remains empty from the time of Senator Kennedy's death until the special election. Without 60 votes, the Senate Democrats have to make an effort to convince at least one Republican to come on board. They don't bribe Ben Nelson or ram through the bill on strictly partisan lines on Christmas eve, and the national groundswell of support for Brown doesn't develop.

Alternate scenario 4: The Democrats don't convince Arlen Specter to change parties. Without 60 votes, the Senate Democrats have to make an effort to convince at least one Republican to come on board. They don't bribe Ben Nelson or ram through the bill on strictly partisan lines on Christmas eve, and the national groundswell of support for Brown doesn't develop.

Alternate scenario 5: The Democrats don't steal the Minnesota Senate seat from Norm Coleman. Without 60 votes, the Senate Democrats have to make an effort to convince at least one Republican to come on board. They don't bribe Ben Nelson or ram through the bill on strictly partisan lines on Christmas eve, and the national groundswell of support for Brown doesn't develop.

Alternate scenario 6: Barack Obama governs as he campaigned. The Federal Government doesn't pass a $700 billion stimulus, doesn't take over GM and Chrysler and banks, doesn't try to nationalize one-sixth of the US economy, and, therefore, doesn't turn an economic downturn into a deep recession. The anger around the country doesn't materialize to the extent that it has now, and Coakley, despite a lackluster campaign, wins fairly easily.
But they did those things, and now the seat is gone. Scott Brown will be a United States Senator for the next two years.


1 - Boston Globe, 2/19/2004
Massachusetts Democrats are devising a plan to keep John F. Kerry's US Senate seat in their party's hands by blocking Governor Mitt Romney from naming an interim replacement if Kerry wins the White House.
Frank Phillips, Globe Staff. (2004, February 19). DEMOCRATS EYE PLAN TO PROTECT KERRY SENATE SEAT :[THIRD Edition]. Boston Globe,p. A.1. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from Business Dateline. (Document ID: 547183041).


2 - Boston Globe, 9/23/2009
The state Senate approved a bill yesterday that would let Governor Deval Patrick appoint an interim successor to Edward M. Kennedy, paving the way for the appointment of a new US senator as early as tomorrow and providing Democrats in Washington the potential 60th vote they have been seeking to pass a health care overhaul.
Matt Viser. (2009, September 23). Senate OK's Kennedy successor bill :Governor could name interim pick tomorrow. Boston Globe,p. A.1. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from Business Dateline. (Document ID: 1864237401).

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