Fire in a Crowded Theater

Lauren Victoria Burke/

The thing to watch tonight are Dems from the left and the right (but I suspect overwhelmingly from the right) putting out statements that the Massachusetts verdict means Dems need to pull the plug on health care reform. Here’s Sen. Bayh kicking things off in the run for the exits. Anthony Weiner was just on MSNBC seemingly sticking to his comment from this morning that a Coakley loss probably meant the end of health care reform.

People don’t like politicians who are weak and don’t know what they believe. If the bill was worth passing yesterday, it’s just as worth passing tomorrow. All the meta-politics about being for something before you were against it, knowing what you believe or not knowing, being able to get something done. It all comes down to stuff like this.

Late Update: Here’s an unnamed “presidential advisor” quoted in Politico who should get a promotion: “The response will not be to do incremental things and try to salvage a few seats in the fall,” a presidential adviser said. “The best political route also happens to be the boldest rhetorical route, which is to go out and fight and let the chips fall where they may. We can say, ‘At least we fought for these things, and the Republicans said no.”

I cannot say this enough. The policy front speaks for itself. But the meta-politics is real. It’s a big. But it’s something Democrats have great difficulty with. For a whole variety of reasons voters clearly have a lot of hesitation about this reform. I think the polls make clear that the public is not against it. But the reticence is real. If Dems decide to run from the whole project in the face of a single reverse, what are voters supposed to draw from that? What conclusion would you draw about an individual in an analogous situation in your own life? Think about it.