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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Democrats' loss in Massachusetts seen as personal win for charismatic Scott Brown, but does the election also send a message? Plus: The constitutionality of health care reform.

January 20, 2010

Brian McGrory explains how Scott Brown seduced his vote away from Martha Coakley: "I needed to send a message. I don't know much about Scott, and I have no idea how long he'll be in my life, but I do know that nobody will ever take me for granted again."

• "The election was a triumph of one man, Brown himself, who was able to crystalize voters' concerns into a simple message of change," remarks the Boston Globe. "Brown's engaging personal story, and the happy-warrior glint in his eye, brought people to his side."

Kathleen Parker describes Brown as "the people's genius, a guy's guy who conveyed genuineness -- the antithesis of everything Americans despise in Washington. The un-elitist, Brown was more than an alternative to his rival. He was a reformer promising change to a people weary of hope."

 

• Brown's "symbolically sophisticated campaign cast him as the affable guy next door fighting the Democratic machine. Supporting him became a way to express disagreement with the Democratic agenda, impatience with Democratic dominance, resentment against perceived elite insiders," explains Scot Lehigh.

• "It will be tempting for the White House to blame the stunning Democratic defeat in Massachusetts Tuesday on local factors" and "national Republicans are likely to take the results of the special Senate election in Massachusetts as vindication of their strategy of obstruction and exaggeration," but the Washington Post implores them to "look a bit deeper."

• "Brown ran explicitly against Obama's domestic agenda, above all the radical healthcare overhaul that the president has made his priority," writes Jeff Jacoby. "In Boston on Sunday, it spoke volumes that Obama made not a single direct reference to the healthcare bill he champions - and that Brown promises to oppose."

• "Mrs. Coakley also didn't mention health care in her final TV ad," notes the Wall Street Journal. "The Democratic Party's top priority had become such a political albatross that Democrats didn't dare mention it lest it drive more votes to Mr. Brown."

• "It's the substance, stupid!" exclaims former Hill columnist Lanny Davis in the Wall Street Journal. "According to polls, fears about the Democrats' health-care proposal played a prominent role in Mr. Brown's victory yesterday."

• Although "insiders may be focused on health reform, the country has its mind on lots of other things," writes Steven Pearlstein.

Jonathan Capehart warns that Brown's win "was an electoral canary in the coal mine for Obama and the political teams in the White House and on Capitol Hill. If they're smart, they'll use that time to correct missteps made over the last year and reorder their priorities."

• Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Utah's attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, and Sen. Orrin Hatch explain why the health care bills are perhaps not only "bad policy for America" but also "a threat to liberty itself. The courts may have to enforce the constitutional boundaries that Congress has ignored."

• Also in the Los Angeles Times, Akhil Reed Amar, a law professor at Yale University, disagrees: "I'm no healthcare expert, but I have spent the last three decades studying the Constitution, and the current plan easily passes constitutional muster."

Thomas L. Friedman explains why "if China forces out Google," he'd "like to short the Chinese Communist Party."

• "Will Google's line in the sand blow away in the breeze?" asks Clarence Page. "Significantly, its announcement expressed less alarm over censorship than with cyber attacks that 'resulted in the theft of intellectual property.' That's worth pulling out of China if the mostly likely suspect, China's government, is behind it."

Maureen Dowd wonders about San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: "How did this onetime poster boy for the new face of the Democratic Party get to the point where he couldn't raise the money to compete with the old-school Jerry Brown in the governor's race, and why is he leaving politics just when he feels as though he's getting better at it?"

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