I’ve long thought that Democrats have better ideas, an advantage that the Republicans offset by being more committed. That dynamic is playing out once again in Washington over the health-care reform fight.
In any kind of brawl, the real fight doesn’t begin until you get punched in the nose. What do you do at that point? How do you respond? The Democrats took a good shot to the nose yesterday in Massachusetts, and they’re running home to their mommas. A party with a 59-41 margin in the Senate and a 256-178 margin in the House is apparently throwing in the towel on health-care reform.
It makes no sense. Every Democratic congressman and senator who voted for the bill earlier is permanently tagged with it. Come November, it’s going to be part of the campaign against them regardless of whether the bill passes. They’ve already paid the political price, but they’re walking away empty-handed, without their purchase.
In fact, panic has set in among Democrats. By their reaction, they’re turning a small if significant defeat into something larger. (For the Civil War scholars out there, it’s a political version of First Manassas.) President Obama has made it clear that the Democrats won’t try to rush a Senate vote before Republican Scott Brown is seated, and that’s probably appropriate. But the haste with which House Democrats have simply abandoned the effort doesn’t bode well for the party in the battles to come.