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What Ted Kennedy would tell the Democrats

kennedyseated.jpgAnd here comes the firing squad. Anthony Weiner went on MSNBC to suggest that Democrats drop health care and pivot to jobs. Evan Bayh is blaming "the furthest left elements of the Democratic Party," who have gotten exactly nothing they wanted in recent months. Barney Frank is hoping that some Senate Republicans will revise the health-care bill to their liking, resulting in a bill that will be far less to the House's liking than the current Senate bill. And so on.

There will be more to say on all this tomorrow. For now, it's worth observing that a Democratic Party that would abandon their central initiative this quickly isn't a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power. If they don't believe in the importance of their policies, why should anyone who's skeptical change their mind? If they're not interested in actually passing their agenda, why should voters who agree with Democrats on the issues work to elect them? A commitment provisional on Ted Kennedy not dying and Martha Coakley not running a terrible campaign is not much of a commitment at all.

Speaking of Kennedy, he anticipated this reaction back in 1980. On the eve of his defeat to Jimmy Carter, and Carter's defeat to Ronald Reagan, he warned his supporters against letting electoral setbacks dampen their commitment to their cause. "If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose -- and deserve to lose," he said. "The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties."

Pity he's not around to remind Democrats of that today.

Photo credit: By Jason Reed/Reuters

By Ezra Klein  |  January 19, 2010; 11:44 PM ET
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Next: The Massachusetts special election in graph form


If the Democrats do as Weiner and Frank seem to believe they should and turn tail and run on health care reform, then a pox on their house. That would be the most cowardly, most hypocritical action they could possibly take. And if they fail to pass it, the next 3 years will be the longest of Barack Obama's life and the last 3 years of his presidency. I am an "Obamabot," and even I have to concede that.

Posted by: donovong | January 20, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Ezra: "If they don't believe in the importance of their policies, why should anyone who's skeptical change their mind? If they're not interested in actually passing their agenda, why should voters who agree with Democrats on the issues work to elect them?"

Consider the possibility that a significant proportion of Americans, many of them independents and disaffected Republicans, voted for Obama and the Dems because they wanted to punish the party (seen to be) in power: Bush/McCain and the Republicans, *not* because they necessarily favored the Democrat's policy platform.

And even if they favored health care reform in the abstract, they needn't favor the specific bills before Congress now.

I think this is what is playing out now. A large swathe of the electorate achieved it's aim in November 2008 when it threw the Republicans but then come January 2009 recoiled when the learned what the Dems planned to do with the power they'd been given.

Pelosi and Reid have misjudged the mood of the electorate and overreached on health care. They can now press ahead and pay for their "audacity" next November or dilute their bill to attract Repbulican support. That's my take anyway.

Posted by: tbass1 | January 20, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Republicans turned tail on Social Security reform, which was about as popular as healthcare reform is right now, according to polls. They surrendered, and did it help them? No. When the parties abandon their principles, it doesn't win over independents and it alienates the base. While I'm all for the Democrats abandoning all their issues to the Republicans, history shows that such a strategy is not a vote getter. Stick to their guns and they may well lose in November. Abandon everything they stand for and they are guarunteed to lose.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 20, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Lose the apostrophe in "come's" and this post is 100% right on.

Posted by: slag | January 20, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Your absolutely right Ezra.

I think there is an attitude among some Democrats that it is all about them. The important thing is whether Democrats run things or not. But that isn't what is important. What is important is the agenda that Democrats believe in.

Democrats not willing to stand up for their agenda are Democrats who, in the words of Ted Kennedy, "deserve to lose."

Posted by: DavidWelker | January 20, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Keep fighting the good fight, Ezra. I wish there were more Democrats, or even ONE, who was speaking with your clarity.

I respect Howard Dean, but he is misleading progressives into believing that a 51-vote reconciliation solution is a viable option. There are too many technical limitations, you can only finance short term projects. Politically, it's a non-starter, you won't find 50 Democrats who will stick their necks out when the bill is already unpopular.

The only hope is for the House to rubber stamp the Senate bill. I'm not optimistic, but we have to keep fighting.

Posted by: HuckFinn | January 20, 2010 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, sometimes I wish you'd run for office.

Posted by: blah1 | January 20, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Health care reform is both serious and necessary. As a country, we need it to be done. As Jon Stewart pointed out, even with this loss, we still have a larger Senate majority than the GOP has had since the 1920's, larger than anything W. had when he started two wars. So, I ask, if not this group of Senators, then whom?

Who represents those of us that knows something substantial must be done?

Posted by: nylund | January 20, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Commenter 'blah1' is right - this country needs what Ezra is saying to come out of this President or some leader. It is sad that it is coming from a young blogger. Of course it is better than no one saying this! Anyways, this is a good post Ezra.

Commenter 'Kevin_Willis' also got it right.

So the question is what next? I think it is clear that Dems in Congress and White House have to proceed on 3 tracks, SIMULTANEOUSLY (that is the key which Obama promised but he did not deliver):

1. Budget track needing 51 Senators which kind of delivers 'red meat' to the Dem base within budgetary constraints and which is geared towards jobs (since this will be the only opportunity anything can be done when 41 GOP Senators + some Dem Senators are opposed to do anything constructive).

2. Financial reforms completely driven 'bi-partisan' as much as possible or else go to Nov 2010 campaigning against GOP after Summer if till then they do not co-operate at all. This should be the only game in the town for next 6 months with total consummate interactions with GOP. Any GOP Senator, anyone with legacy intentions (Vinovich?), is welcome on the board and do what that Senator wants. Pass anything what GOP allows here.

3. Finally, convince House to adopt Senate HCR with corresponding budget provisions to compensate what House compromises. The key is considering un-popularity of HCR; this needs to happen as early as possible. It cannot be the only thing at the cost of other 2 tracks.

I doubt anything more is possible when GOP has got success with the 'total obstruction' strategy. Trying that is waste, more than what the waste was last summer to chase Snowe for HCR. It must be understood that GOP in Senate will be totally on 'nihilism' since that is working so well for them.

But there will be morning tomorrow in America too. It is not end of the world and those who got elected to make 'change'; they need to continue to move forward even in harsher political environment. Ezra is right, this is the time to remember what Ted preached.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 20, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

I would like to know how many people across the country whom this healthcare reform bill would help, actually hoped that BROWN would win.

Because in the U.S., many people now vote against their own interests. Have a look at Thomas Frank's book, What's the Matter with Kansas. They don't really understand economics. They've swallowed the Reagan supplyside intellectual poison, because its "freedom agenda" comports with their emotional needs.

The Democrats have nothing like a coherent narrative that can compete with this. They have no intellectual framework. (Just try to name a single book, not to mention a short book, like Hayek's Road to Serfdom or Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom, which encapsulates it.) Liberals take some pride in supposing that their framework is standard economics, but this framework is equivocal in almost any real policy discussion -- thus helping to ensure the slur that the Dem's default position is "relativism."

Worse than that, the Dems are going to lose their left. If the Dems pass a healthcare reform bill that mandates that you must pay more money than should be necessary for healthcare, because you have to pay it to the private insurers, this is going to cause a major problem with progressives and even some independents. It's already happening.

In short, the healthcare bill is hated by people it will help, on the right AND on the left.

The Dems can hope that they will have enough time before the election to explain what the bill does. When they are asked the question "Why in hell didn't you pass a public option to save us money?" perhaps they can point to the Republicans.

But this is an enormous public relations effort for which they have not yet demonstrated any skill. On the other hand the Repubs already have the 24-hr media emotional meme machine. And wonkism won't be effective because it is too technical and boring.

The President's real problem is almost entirely rhetorical. He has stopped making sense to normal people. There is no creation and nurturing of a comprehensive understanding.

Beyond that, and crucially, the Administration is not fashioning a leading narrative that stays ahead of the real conditions, political and economic, on the ground.

The President needs to be a fighter, needs a different message and speechwriters.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 20, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Just saw Ezra Klein on the Rachel Maddow show and then found the column. The Massachusetts special senate election is a wake up call. Ezra disin"Klein"ed could not possibly be more off the mark in his article. The health care reform/central initiative of the Democratic party is not popular. It could not get passed with a SUPERMAJORITY.....not just a majority, a supermajority. You have to seriously ask yourself why it is not done and then come to your own conclusion. Not a single GOP vote is required...what is the hang up?

With all due respect for Ted Kennedy, how ironic that a special election for his seat may end the administrations health care plans.

It did not matter about Coakley's campaign with lack of transparency in the health care bill writing and special back room deals for labor unions.

That is now republican wins in NJ, VA, and MA

Clinton had to come to center to be an effective Presidnet, will the current administration take the warning?

Posted by: trt105 | January 20, 2010 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Ramming through the current health reform legislation is political suicide. Trying to water it down further to pick up Republican votes is a fool's errand. Do what Howard Dean suggested and pass an expansion of existing public programs using reconciliation. It's simple for voters to understand and can be paid for with Medicare reforms. No mandates. No new middle class taxes.

Posted by: bmull | January 20, 2010 3:07 AM | Report abuse

Democrats and OBAMA need to wake up and go to war like FDR did against the GOP.

Obama brought a knife to a gunfight.

He needs to stop seeking GOP votes.

Robert Gates is not the President. McChrystal is not the President. Obama needs to take charge.

- IMMEDIATELY fire Geithner and Summers and start listening to people like Volcker and Reich.

- IMMEDIATELY pass the Senate bill in the House and then use reconciliation to improve it.

- IMMEDIATELY pass a new credit card law limiting interest rates.

- Use reconciliation to IMMEDIATELY levy a 60% windfall profit tax on wallstreet bonuses and exec pay.

- Close GITMO NOW.

- Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and all other arab countries NOW.

- Immediately IMPEACH any USSC justice who votes to further destroy the constitution by allowing corporations or unions to donate unlimited money to federal campaigns.

In 2008 independants overwhelmingly voted for Obama to accomplish much of the above. Obama has turned his back on his promise of change we can believe in. If he does not follow my advice he will be a one-term president and Mitt Romney will be our next President and he will have a House and Senate controlled by the GOP and the problems we have today will seem insignificant compared to what happens after they take control again.

If the Democrats drop health care because of ONE stupid Senate vote, I will stop voting for Democrats until they've replaced with a new breed of true progressives.

Posted by: Lomillialor | January 20, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

So now that Liebermans no longer the 60th vote, can the democratic caucus FINALLY dump him now?

Posted by: markgoede | January 20, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Brown is the new black

Posted by: dugedug62 | January 20, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

thank you for writing this.

if this bill is not passed, the consequences will be tragic.
if health care reform is now abandoned by democrats, out of cowardice,exhaustion, self-servingness, petulance...or voices that would derail it for personal reasons and agendas, under a president who is trying his hardest to accomplish something, then there is much to despair over.
frank, webb, dean,,wiener.....this is not the time to spark the fires of disunity, or to lack courage, or to turn on president obama. they all know that sending it back to the drawing board or waiting, will be lethal.
if this bill cannot get passed, there will be nothing left but disaffection, chaos and hopelessness.

Posted by: jkaren | January 20, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

By compromising everything, President Obama and the Democrats have succeeded only in making everyone unhappy. Even if Democrats failed repeatedly to achieve anything, but were seen fighting for what they said they believed in, voters would have more respect for them and believe they were still on their side. By caving in so quickly so often this past year, Democrats have just lost what support they did have.

As an independent, I personally am sick to death of all the Democrats' whining about how they are going to lose in Nov. I don't care whether of not any politician gets re-elected. I care that they are doing what I voted for them to do. By focusing more on elections that they might lose instead of actually passing legislation, they have ensured that they will lose.

Posted by: caed | January 20, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose--and deserve to lose,"

I have news for you Ezra, from the start, the Democratic approach to health care reform has been a pale imitation of failed Republican strategies dressed up with liberal rhetoric.

At it's heart, the "public option" was a simple-minded buy-in into the notion that the solution to the health care problem in the US lies in a market solution. It was not, as so many tried to paint it, a fall back from single-payer (which itself is poorly understood), it was a complete abandonment of the goals of actual health care reform.

People are not stupid. They know that a plan that requires the government to pay for a pharmaceuticals but does not allow it to negotiate prices is not reform: it is a cave-in to Republican interests.

Voters know that a plan that requires individuals to buy insurance with after-tax dollars while leaving employer-paid benefits untaxed is not reform: it is yet another compromise that violates fundamental principles of equity.

People who have been following this issue know that a program that requires destitute individuals and families to bounce between state agencies and private insurance companies to get basic care is not going to help the most vulnerable among us; it is a sell out to the interests of private insurance companies.

And boomers who are caring for aging parents realize that a health care plan with no long-term care component is a shell.

If the current bill fails, the Democratic response should be to do what should have been done this time last year. They need to start by talking to constituents about what it is they want. Incremental tweaking to a collapsing model is not going to help us, we need courage and vision. That means that Democrats need to stop being afraid of their own shadows and get on with actually delivering it REFORM.

Posted by: Athena_news | January 20, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Pity Teddy didn't retire and lived to support his successor's campaign. Please let Robert Byrd learn from this.

Nancy not Alan

Posted by: alan_migdall | January 20, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

So practically speaking, what the heck are the supposed to do? Grandstanding and "not backing down" is all well and good, but that doesn't pass a bill.

The options are either 1)House passes the Senate bill or 2) they start over in the hopes of picking up a GOP vote (even more unlikely now than it was a few months ago).

At some point, Ezra, they have to face the political reality. So what are you practical recommendations?

Posted by: truth5 | January 20, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"a Democratic Party that would abandon their central initiative this quickly isn't a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power."

Looks like we'll see this. I grieve for our country.

Posted by: janinsanfran | January 20, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest to Ezra that comparing Ted Kennedy's political remarks a couple of decades ago are somehow similar to what is happening today is silly. If Mr. Klein would follow the lead of a good historian, he would compare the state of the nation when Teddy spoke, contrasting that to what we have today. To stretch my point....just as columnists and analysts do....I would have given a paragraph or two to the political naivite of this Administration. I don't know who in hell is giving the current POTUS "political advice," but it surely must be a Cook County type....and it sure isn't working.......housecleaning begins at home.

Posted by: connyankee1 | January 20, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest to Ezra that comparing Ted Kennedy's political remarks a couple of decades ago are somehow similar to what is happening today. If Mr. Klein would follow the lead of a good historian, he would compare the state of the nation when Teddy spoke, contrasting that to what we have today. To stretch my point....just as columnists and analysts do....I would have given a paragraph or two to the political naivite of this Administration. I don't know who in hell is giving the current POTUS "political advice," but it surely must be a Cook County type....and it sure isn't working.......housecleaning begins at home.

Posted by: connyankee1 | January 20, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

What this election proves, one more time, is that people are not rational but predictably irrational. During hard times everything becomes a target for anger and rejection, even if it will turn into a boomerang and hit back. The same idiots who are being and will be dumped by the insurance companies when they get chronic diseases are the ones who reject reform. They are mad because they lost jobs and the way to express their anger is to hurt themselves. Long live idiocy!!

Posted by: lwestevez | January 20, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: DCer1 | January 20, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The health bill was garbage to begin with. That's why it didn't see much of the light of day and had to have backroom deals to get event the super majority it enjoyed. Couple that with being the most important and expensive bill to ever, in the history of the USA, to not, I repeat not, being bipartisan.

And complicated? What...82 pages for the Social Security bill and 2450 plus for this monstrosity?

Just because it says Health Care Reform didn't mean reform. It meant entitlement.

And what about the polls that said that most Americans didn't want it? The hubris of a party to say that Americans just don't know what is good for themselves.

Posted by: deeman | January 20, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My post was messy. Pleas excuse the errors; my emotions made me post it quickly with out being careful, much like the Democrats and their health bill.

Posted by: deeman | January 20, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy is dead. Reagan is dead. Let's deal with today and stop worring about what dead politicians (whose time has gone)would say.

Posted by: 45upnorth | January 20, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy is dead. Reagan is dead. Stop worrying about the past and dead with today.

Posted by: 45upnorth | January 20, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Dear Democrats,

Stop crying and start WORKING.

Posted by: janye1 | January 20, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Ezra,

That is clearly NOT what Teddy would say. Yes, he was a liberal lion. However, he was one of the most bipartisan Senators.

That is why he was not only the most successful legislator, but generally well liked by even the most polar opposite to him on the political scale.
His handprint is on more successful "major" legislation than anyone else. He did this with Democratic and Republican Majorities in congress and both Democratic and Republican Presidents.

He understood that the best legislation is that legislation that garners support of 3/4 of the party in power and 1/4 of the party out of power.

That is bipartisanship. Dealing in good faith is not just trying to peel off one or two votes with a bribe.

Not the way that Obama/Reid/Pelosi have operated. If you are not upsetting at least 10% to 20% of your caucus you are NOT leading.

Teddy was a LION, not the whiney hyenas of the Democratic leadership today.

Posted by: Spiritrider | January 20, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Dear Democrats and POTUS, don't listen to people like Klein; you can abandon this bill without abandoning health care reform. You may have to do it in steps but you can do it. BTW, you can't keep deficit spending; when the Republicans return to Congress they will make their cuts and you'll like that even less. Good-bye Dept of Education and most of HUD, HHS, EPA and Labor. If you have to raise taxes, make a case for it; true you might have to admit you lied on the campaign trail and you'll probably lose anyway come Nov but at least you'll have been honest and upfront instead of wasting a lot of time being a pack of weasels about everything.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 20, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Another, really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: stephenwhelton | January 20, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

So, once again blame the Republicans for the lack of progress on the disaster known as healthcare reform. Blame the party who was not given a seat at the table, they're 'nihilists' for not rubber-stamping the legislation of which they did not participate and for which their concerns were not consulted. The only way for Republicans to be 'bipartisan' is to vote for Democrat legislation straight up. People want health care reform, they do not want THIS health care reform. The Dems prefer to stick their heads in the sand (what unpopularity?) and forge ahead regardless of what the public wants, and for that they're now experiencing the inevitable backlash. Democracy works, you can't force unpopular legislation down the public's throat and expect them to be ok with that. Remember: elections have consequences, and those are coming to a new light just now.

Posted by: ChangeIsNotAStrategy | January 20, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

We have a Republican form of government where our elected leadership is expected to comply with the will of the people subject to the Constitution of the United States. Democrats have clearly mis-read the will of the people and have always trampled on those parts of the Constitution which did not suit their fancy. What is amazing to me is not that Brown got elected, it is that Obama, Reid and Pelosi got elected.

Posted by: JCM-51 | January 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Ezra Klein. Well said.

The current GOP claims that there is now a nationwide mandate to overturn the results of the 2008 landslide, based on one election in Massachusetts, are absurd on their face, and yet quickly taking root.

Voices like yours are needed to instill the Democrats with some spine. We work hard to put Democrats in office to make a difference for all Americans. Now they have to deliver, not run for cover.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | January 20, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I find it extremely interesting reading all the post. I guess you could call me a political junkie. I am one of the few conservatives I know, who enjoys reading differing opinions. I read the Post, NY Times, and even watch MSNBC, (except for Olbermann) for one purpose and that is to hear all sides then and only then can I be assured that my political view is my view and not some talking head, or even the view of friends and families.
With that said, may I remind everyone that if health care doesn’t pass it is not the end of the world. Although I believe that in this bill are probably some good things it is just too massive to be understood or even explained to the everyday American citizen. If it was easy then I would think that it would already have been done. That is why it is looking more to so many of my conservative friends to be just one more area where the liberal progressives want to instill their world view on the rest of America. The 2008 election was not a vote for liberalism. I know too many liberals that hurt’s their pride but the facts are the facts. My state (Arkansas) has only one republican in congress, all of our state elected officials are democrats, I would think that would make us a democrat state. Yet in a recent town hall teleconference held by (D) Rep. Mike Ross there were over 6,500 callers on the line and when asked a survey question, “How many would like to see the present health care bill passed?” an overwhelming majority, 85% said no. You may call Congressman Ross’s office to verify. What does this tell you?
I would ask that my liberal friends realize this is not the path we want to go. I do believe that starting over and going increments would go a long way in meeting both true reform and cost. No way that the present bill does that. My former Governor, Bill Clinton learned the right way to govern and that is from the middle. Folks without it this crap in Washington will continue.

Posted by: mgoodwin1 | January 20, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ted is dead.

Let it go already.

Posted by: BBOOZE | January 20, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Seeing and hearing Dead People?

What next, guessing what Uncle Bernie would say to the boys who want the party to go on a the beach house for the weekend?

Posted by: Cornell1984 | January 20, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Teddy was a murderer, a multiple rapist and an alcoholic. He's also dead. Worrying about what he would have said or thought is pointless.

Posted by: plaasjaapie | January 20, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse


You sure you're right about that? I mean, the other day you reached the conclusion that a Brown victory wouldn't really affect the health-care reform efforts. Meanwhile, any independent-minded person who passed grade school could recognize that a Democratic defeat in Massachusetts would send moderate Dems running for the hills. If you can't foresee those kind of basic developments, why in God's name should anyone listen to your opinions on the consequences of the health-care bill???

You've been cheerleading for something, anything, called "health-care reform" since this thing began. It is impossible to distinguish your wishful thinking from your "analysis." The Post should fire you, and Pearlstein, and get someone who won't try to spoon-feed blatant spin to the readers on a daily basis. The Post is better than this.

Posted by: acronon | January 20, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Dec 16, 1773 200 Americans dumped East Indian Co tea in Boston harbor.
April 19, 1775 Concord minute men turn back a British force sent to take a cache of privately owned firearms and ammunition.
July 19, 1969 "dead body" "automobile" "Ted" Kennedy, Wiki
"1990 investigation" Sen Barney Frank "said he fired Gobie when he learned that prostitution clients were visiting his apartment. Wiki
Jan 19, 2009 "Scott Brown Victory a "Repudiation" of Obama" ABC
Now, they should send off Barney Frank, next, and we can begin to believe our Yankee neighbors are on the road to recovery. See you in November.

Posted by: WastingtonDC | January 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

First of all, I want to thank Mr. Klein for a series of thought provoking and very informative, up to the moment articles that have helped to educate me to the ever unfolding details of this very sorry episode in our American life. Obviously, we are now saddled with two dysfunctional political parties, as if we have not been for some time, and an electorate that is angry and irrational, not to mention undereducated, self- destructive, parsimonious, and maybe just nuts (like the woman from Mass who said that she was 79 and had voted for Ted Kennedy every election but now she was against the health care bill because it was another entitlement," but is probably on Medicare, Social Security and as a dole on half a dozen other people and programs that are paying to float her boat. Or possibly even, she is wealthy and voted for Kennedy for no reason at all. That would make the most sense. No! It was not much of a bill. Did I need it? No! I have health care insurance. Do I know people who do need it? Yes! I feel bad for them and I am ashamed to say that I am an American, since we are apparently making a conscience decision not to help them. Obviously, we can make a good bomb, but as for solving a single domestic problem, we are incapable of doing that. American businesses and banks have just driven us in to the ground and we have bailed them out to the point they are showing significant profits in a relatively short period of time, while there are fewer jobs and many more people without health care today than a year ago, with the likelihood of improvement very far off, if ever, for many. The country's system of representation, taxation on both the federal and state level, are outdated, outmoded, and single sided in a totally gone crazy capitalist society that has lost its soul, while at the same time being relentlessly bludgeoned to death by the religious right at every turn. We may be able to stand on the backs of those who went before us, technologically, but emotionally, we have not advanced beyond the level of bickering little children or the mentality of the school yard bully. Before I reach for the boot, let me say, that there have been many enlightening comments made by very astute and caring people, but in the totality of things, this is simply not enough and will never carry the day?

Posted by: rryder1 | January 20, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I am fully convinced now that Ezra is the twin brother of Naomi Klein.

The reason this administration has not yet figured out how to govern is because the Kleins of the party got the candidate it wanted: a style-over-substance amateur who was as detached from middle America as most of them are. Yes, he won, but it was not a sign that the electorate had turned hard left any more than Scott Brown's victory is a sign that Massachusetts has turned hard right. Both elections were cries of exasperation about the party in power.

Besides, exactly what remaining options does Klein believe the Dems have on the current health care bill? Obama may have proven himself as poor a general as Sir Douglas Haig but he lacks Haig's authority to order the troops over the top into suicidal charges. He is now seen to be as punchless and ineffectual in domestic politics as he is in foreign affairs.

The only good news is that these disasters have all come so early. Dems might not want to embrace a scaled-back, half-a-loaf agenda but it is clear to any rational observer that the electorate wants such an agenda. If Obama can overcome his arrogance and ideological rigidity - if he can find some true humility in the face of the people's wishes - then he may yet be a successful president.

But some people would rather blow their bugle than win the war. We'll soon find out if Obama is one.

Posted by: fgill1 | January 20, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

How lucky for the GOP that they keep releasing straw horses out to pasture and the Dems keep saddling them up and attempting to ride, which is precisely the way to fall on one's behind. The more they legitimize the Republican's empty threats and arguments, the more voters also legitimize the same. Dems have wasted precious time and political capitol cowering in front of the big, bad threat of a filibuster. I say, let it rip. Instead of joining in their circular arguments, which on the one hand chastise the Dems for not being "bipartisan" and on the other, clearly state that they have no intention of being bipartisan themselves, dare the GOP to stand up and publicly denounce any form of regulation and reform, which would put a lie to their ridiculous, faux populist rhetoric. Responsible Dems should also cut their losses with the Blue Dogs. By now it should be obvious that pandering to them has only exposed their raging self interest, which in turn has pretty much screwed them in the eyes of the public, nevertheless done serious damage to the health care reform bill and the party overall.

Posted by: Koko3 | January 20, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Finally, finally I agree with Ezra Klein on something. This isn't a Democratic Party that deserves to hold power.

The lessons of Va., N.J., and now Mass. are so blisteringly clear that it hurts the eyes to stare at them. And yet Klein and the rest of the apoplectic progressives see nothing. They are told, "No, stop, go the other way," and they take from that warning only this: "Go faster!"

What Teddy Kennedy urged on the nation was an extremist vision of a welfare state from whose drab indignities and high-minded meddling he and his noble family would have been spared. He advocated busing in Boston as his own children attended private schools that were exempt. And he rejected vouchers to help poor kids to attend private schools in D.C. He worked to kill the Cape Cod wind farm because its clean energy would have been generated by unsightly windmills possibly visible from the Kennedy property and, in any event, bad for tourism. The healthcare bill whose provisions he urged on others wouldn't apply to Congress. Read the details of Chappaquiddick sometime and you'll discover gaping moral voids in him. The list goes on. The liberal lion has always been a mixed bag of genuine concern for bettering people's lives and abject hypocrisy. Pretty much sums up liberalism and its angry offspring, progressivism, in our current politics.

It's hard not to feel intense schadenfreude about the sputtering disbelief and seething rage of the Ezra Kleins. But something obvious should come out of the Mass. upset and Scott Brown's election. The Democrats were off the rails. Americans wanted to brush back Obama, Pelosi and Reid, express our sometimes awkward but always sincere distaste for ever-expanding government. Catch the clue. This wasn't aimless voter anger based on misinformation and fear. Only the intellectually dishonest believe that. This was a defeat for progressivism.

Posted by: Imperfections | January 20, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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