This editorial in the Wall Street Journal is too good to not post in full. Dead on.
The 60th Senate Vote
The special election in Massachusetts and the Democratic agenda.
When Ted Kennedy died last August, Democrats said they’d honor him by finally passing the national health care he had long campaigned for. What an irony it would be if the race for Kennedy’s successor in Massachusetts denied Democrats the 60th vote to ram their federal takeover into law on a partisan basis.
That prospect isn’t as implausible as it once seemed in that most liberal of states, as Republican Scott Brown has closed to within striking distance of Democrat Martha Coakley in the January 19 special election. A Boston Globe survey released this weekend showed Ms. Coakley with a 15-point lead, but a survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found the race a dead heat, with Mr. Brown up 48% to 47%. The scary prospect for Democrats is that the race is even this close on their home ideological turf, and turnout is always difficult to predict in special elections.
That’s especially true in midwinter and with a voting public that is increasingly opposed to the Democratic agenda in Washington. The Public Policy Poll found that likely Bay State voters oppose the Democratic health plans by 47% to 41% and that they give President Obama only 44% job approval. This in a state he carried by 26 points only 14 months ago. It also found Republicans much more motivated to vote than Democrats.
Mr. Brown, a state senator who is little known state-wide, has been running against Washington’s blowout spending and has called for a freeze on the wages of federal employees. “It’s not right that less-paid private sector workers suffering through a recession have to pay for expensive government salaries,” he says, noting Ms. Coakley’s many union endorsements.
He’s also hit on taxes, including Ms. Coakley’s comments in November that “We need to get taxes up.” One of his TV ads shows film of Massachusetts son John F. Kennedy describing his 1962 tax cut bill, saying that “The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy.” It’s been a long time since any national Democrat said anything like that.
Regarding ObamaCare, Mr. Brown notes that 98% of the state is already insured so any national bill will hurt Bay Staters. He’s right, with the sweetheart Medicaid deal that Ben Nelson cut for Nebraska being Exhibit A. But more fundamentally, the Democratic bills would impose federally mandated rules and benefit limits that would strip states of regulatory flexibility.
Ms. Coakley is the state attorney general and ran to the left of other Democrats to win the Senate primary. She would be a reliable liberal vote for Majority Leader Harry Reid on every issue. These columns have a particular interest in Ms. Coakley’s judgment from her days as district attorney for Middlesex County when she inherited the child molestation case against Gerald Amirault long after it had been shown to be fictional.
When the Governor’s Advisory Board on Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to commute Amirault’s sentence in 2001, Ms. Coakley went to great lengths to see that he remain in prison. The same woman who organized protest meetings to ensure that Amirault stay behind bars now argues that would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab and other jihadists should not be held as enemy combatants. She is more zealous for politically correct causes than for national security.
The Democrat remains the favorite in such a liberal state, especially now that the unions and national Democrats have become alarmed by the polls. Bill Clinton will campaign for Ms. Coakley this week, and Mr. Brown can expect an assault linking him to George W. Bush, if not Herbert Hoover. But a sign of their worry is that Democrats are whispering that even if Mr. Brown wins, they’ll delay his swearing in long enough to let appointed Senator Paul Kirk vote for ObamaCare.
The mere fact that Democrats have to fight so hard to save Ted Kennedy’s seat shows how badly they have misjudged America by governing so far to the left.