While we were all watching the stream of pictures and videos of devastation coming in from Haiti, another huge seismic event was building up right under our noses, a 9 on the political Richter scale, in Washington D.C.
The Democrat’s loss this week in the Senate race in Massachusetts is a huge setback for the Obama administration, but it’s repercussions will be felt worldwide, as well. That’s right, even the peace process in the Middle East is going to suffer from this.
One can only wonder what the Democrats were thinking when they let this one slip through. This loss shows how Obama’s people not only misunderstand deeply what is bothering the American public today, it also shows they have no political savvy whatsoever when they needed to put all their weight and influence behind one of their own.
The failure is so collossal, it will seriously damage Obama’s image as a leader who can make the right decisions at the right time. At the height of the NFL season, with the Superbowl just weeks away, this is much like the losing team making a sudden comeback and sacking the quarterback deep in his own territory. As the NYT wrote:
“States do not come more Democratic than Massachusetts, the only one that voted for George McGovern over Richard Nixon in 1972, a fact that older residents still recount with fresh pride.”
The timing couldn’t have been worse. One day before his one-year anniversary in office, Obama got such a huge wake-up call, he’ll probably find it hard to fall asleep the next few days. With the mid-term elections coming up this November, Republicans will use this momentum to their advantage easily. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Republicans are far more excited than Democrats to turn out and vote in November: 55% of Republican voters said they were ‘very interested’ in the election, compared with 38% of Democrats.”
The knee-jerk response in the news was how Obama’s health-care plan is now in jeapordy. But there’s more at stake. What are the chances now for a strong climate change bill, or more regulations on Wall Street, or that new tax on bankers’ bonuses, or a new immigration bill?
And it just gets worse:
“It will be lost on few in the House or the Senate that the Democratic defeat in an overwhelmingly Democratic state came despite a last-minute personal appeal from Mr. Obama, who campaigned here for Ms. Coakley on Sunday. This suggests that Mr. Obama may be of limited or no help to candidates in close elections. No less important, he may not have much leverage to stop them from defying him in Washington.”
Great. So now he won’t even be able to control his own team.
And let’s not forget Bibi. He must have hit the roof with joy when he heard the news. Aluf Benn from Haaretz summed it up nicely:
“Over the past nine months, Netanyahu has managed to curb pressure from Obama, who enjoys a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Now, however, Obama will be more dependent on the support of his Republican rivals, the supporters and friends of Netanyahu.
If Obama’s popularity continues to dive and the Republicans recapture at least one of the houses of Congress in November, Netanyahu and his partners will be able to breathe deep and continue expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
Sure, it’s known that incumbents suffer losses in mid-term elections. It’s natural. But the Kennedy seat??? It reminds me of what my teacher at the Tadmor cooking school told us once in class: “You have to be pretty ‘talented’ to screw up an omelette.”
Barack, I gotta tell ya: this is one hell of a screwed up omelette.