Any spin doctor worth his salt would say the same but there’s a good reason why he doesn’t want to answer this question. Even if they’re willing to try to force the bill through Congress before Brown can replace Kirk, the force of the blast from Massachusetts will likely send Blue Dogs — including/especially our pal Bribetaking Ben — diving for cover, shattering the Democratic coalition behind the bill and leaving the White House powerless to rebuild it. There’s no plan because no plan will work. If Coakley loses even after The One hits the stump for her, what exactly is Obama supposed to say or do to convince Nelson or Lincoln that voting yes is still in their best interest? Have Rahm call them up and curse at them until they submit? Kaus looks ahead to the post-apocalyptic CYA:
I suppose, if the Congressional id is screaming for a way not to pass health care, the most obvious way that’s left would seem to be this: a Senator bails (Nelson, most obviously) or if Coakley is defeated they just can’t pass the bill before Brown takes her place. (Darn!) So the bill can’t go back to the Senate–any House-Senate compromise is doomed by the lack of a 60th vote. The only hope becomes getting the House to pass the already-approved Senate bill word-for-word (the Sudden Victory strategy). But just enough House liberals declare they can’t stomach the Senate bill–on the grounds that the uncompromised Cadillac tax is unacceptable, perhaps, or the subsidies are too low, or that a public option is essential. Presto, a train wreck. Everyone gets to go home and claim they were fighting the good fight.
So lethally demoralizing to Democrats nationwide would a Brown upset be that Republican candidates from as far afield as New York, Texas, and Florida are directing donors and volunteers to help his campaign. “If Democrats aren’t safe here, they aren’t safe anywhere,” says Alex Castellanos, summing it up. That said, the Suffolk poll plus the nonstop jamboree of idiotic Coakley campaign gaffes seem to have convinced righties that victory, however narrow, is practically a fait accompli. Is it? According to Bill Kristol’s sources, last night’s tracking polls show that the relentless attacks are, as expected, nibbling at Brown’s support, and with The One on his way up there Democratic turnout is likely to be a bit higher than otherwise. Not much, perhaps, but then it won’t take much to decide this. AP pessimism meter check: 2.0, up a point from last night, indicating mounting concern and increased chances of heart-ache. Click the image to watch.