- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The dust is still settling from the fallout of the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The rejection of socialism, high taxes and government restrictions on personal health care choices all became self-evident last week with Scott Brown’s stunning upset. It was the shot heard around the political world.

History reminds us that Massachusetts was the cradle of the American Revolution. It began with high taxes, and restrictions on civil liberties imposed by the British Crown. The people of the Bay State refused to succumb to a new despot imposing higher taxes and restrictions on freedom. Just as Massachusetts paved the way for the American Revolution, it now has set the stage for the national rejection of President Obama’s hidden yet radical agenda.

Today, Democrats remain precariously perched along a political fault line that threatens to swallow more of its members if they fail to heed the call and will of the people. Last Tuesday’s election produced far more winners and losers than the victor, Scott Brown, and the vanquished, Martha Coakley. To understand what both parties can expect in the coming weeks and months, it’s important to take a look at some other heroes and victims who emerged from the outcome.

The winners

Pete Sessions — The chairman of the campaign arm for House Republicans will reap the political spoils of Senator-elect Brown’s victory. With more than a 70-seat disadvantage, Republicans in the House face an uphill challenge; so large that many potential Republican contenders felt their time and effort would be better spent in 2012 or beyond. No more. Last week’s victory put once-believed safe Democratic seats in play all across the land. That will help Mr. Sessions in two critical ways: 1) Expect more retirements from old bull Democrats too tired or bored to remain in office; and 2) Mr. Sessions will cultivate some high-caliber recruits to take on those Democrats brave (or foolish) enough to stay in the fight come November.

Michael S. Steele — The chairman of the Republican National Committee deserves his share of credit for the network of party operatives he spread far and wide across the state. Given the state’s large number of independent voters, Massachusetts party officials needed every last Republican vote, and Mr. Steele helped direct those resources. Whether you like his style or not, Steele & Co. are on a roll with victories in Virginia and the bluest of blue states — New Jersey and Massachusetts. Nothing silences critics more than winning.

Sen. Joe Lieberman — Mr. Lieberman is the new maverick. His go-it-alone approach and very public bucking of Senate Democratic leadership establishes a new style of governing in the Senate pantheon that others would be wise to emulate. Solidarity at all costs is a fiat Harry Reid can no longer impose, and Mr. Lieberman was the first to see the folly of such a mandate.

Tea Party Movement — Former Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, and his merry band of conservatives have lit a prairie fire in America’s heartland, firing up like-minded individuals who are disgusted with the same spend-it-all-while-you-can mentality, irrespective of the party in power. They were heckled and rejected as a gang of misfits, but there’s no question these true believers have fomented a movement that will not soon be forgotten and certainly no longer ignored.

The losers

Sen. Harry Reid — Did anyone notice how conspicuously absent and quiet Mr. Reid was in the days leading up to the special election? The Senate leader must know last Tuesday’s vote was as much a referendum on his leadership style as that of the president. Now, Mr. Reid faces even stiffer competition in Nevada, coupled with the realization he must shift strategy in the upper chamber if he has any hope of rescuing his party and his own seat.

Keith Olbermann — The MSNBC anchor was crying in his vodka martini early Tuesday night. No amount of liberal spin and cheap porno references could explain away the shellacking his side took. If last week was any indicator of the coming months, viewers may find themselves tuning into Sunday Night Football to catch future glimpses of the former sportscaster-turned-Obama cheerleader.

Moderate Democrats — Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, said it best when he indicated if his party didn’t see this as a wake-up call, then it is not waking up. The moderate Democrat knows his like-minded colleagues well — they simply can’t keep rubber-stamping a radical agenda and not pay the consequences. It’s too soon to say whether moderate Democrats will fall victim to the voters come November, but if they weren’t before, they’re definitely paying attention now.

President Obama — Whether White House adviser David Axelrod admits it or not, the president knows in his heart last Tuesday’s election was about him and his agenda. That’s why he traveled to Massachusetts last week — to see if he could personally salvage that race. Yet this new dynamic creates a host of opportunities for Mr. Obama. More than ever, the lack of a 60-vote Senate allows Mr. Obama to return to whom he portrayed himself to be — a mainstream Democrat who governs from the middle. We all know better, but if there’s a scapegoat to be found, he’ll locate it. One thing’s for sure, Barack Obama will not repeat the same mistakes of his predecessor, Bill Clinton. He never wants to utter the phrase, “The era of big government is over.”

Time still favors the president and his agenda. If he faces the bitter truth today, he can avoid electoral heartache in 2012. The re-election campaign for President Obama began Jan. 21. The president can emerge from this teachable moment with a fresh, centrist perspective which returns him to the moderate, common-sense leader he always wanted to be. The State of the Union this week gives him that unobstructed platform to do so in prime time. Don’t bet against this man. He’s too good, and too dangerous.

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