Down in parade, people running like a masquerade

Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley and will become the junior Senator from Massachusetts in the next two to three weeks; here's what that means. Jon Chait said a bunch of true things this morning about what Brown's likely victory meant in terms of Obama's popularity and how Democrats in Congress should react. Most importantly he discussed why this does not mean they should give up on health care reform; the short version is that they've already paid whatever unpopularity costs exist, and that not passing it just means they lose the benefits, not get back the costs. Unfortunately, it's not clear that Democrats see things this way, as I'm going to be explaining in just a few sentences. If you care about health care reform, or the future of the Democratic Party (and, while it's not the same thing, the chances for liberal policies to be passed) over the next couple of years, it's a good time to contact your Congressional representative. One unhelpful thing Chait did is title his piece “PANIC!!!” In this situation telling people not to panic, or making jokes about how they're panicking, or pretty much any other use of the actual word panic seems more likely cause panic than alleviate it.

Anyway, after Brown won, Barney Frank and Jim Webb, two people whom I have positive feelings towards, put out statements which strongly imply that health care is dead. Carolyn Maloney also said earlier in the day that a Brown win meant reform was dead.

Which brings me to my final point. I really don't care about, or put much stock in, speeches. But Barack Obama needs to give a major policy address, and he needs to do it as soon as possible. And in that speech he has to take a risk, by publicly recommitting himself, and the Democratic party which he leads, to passing a health care bill as soon as possible. He has to do this because the main thing House Democrats need to understand is that not passing health care legislation will only decrease their chance of holding their seat this coming November, and Obama giving such a speech will actually tie the Democratic party's fortunes more closely to the passage of the health care bill, and should thereby prevent defections from the voting coalition. Josh Marshall makes the same point, but other than drawing a clever analogy between Bush doubling down with the surge in Iraq after the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 and a potential Obama move now, I don't think there's much to take away from his post.