By Dick Morris - 02/08/11 11:35 PM EST
Last week’s Senate vote to reject the repeal of ObamaCare offered stark evidence that the so-called moderate Democrats in the Senate will be forced to walk the plank and vote for Obama’s liberal positions in the 2011-2012 legislative session, guaranteeing that many won’t return. Every single Democrat stood up and voted against repeal (except for one absentee and Independent, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut).
Harry Reid and Obama might well have let them off the hook. They could easily have let the likes of Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) save their seats and vote for repeal. Then, either the remaining Senate Democrats could block a vote or, more likely, Obama would veto the repeal legislation and no override would be possible. Such a posture would have gone a long way toward saving the Senate Democratic majority.
The “moderate” Democrats in question lacked the guts and integrity to stand up to their leaders and vote to repeal this massively unpopular law. So much for their supposed “moderation.”
Now the Republicans must trumpet these senators’ votes in their home states with ads that will assure their defeat in 2012. Remember, Blanche Lincoln, lately defeated for reelection in Arkansas, did not lose her seat in the fall of 2010. She fell hopelessly behind in the spring of that year when she voted to pass ObamaCare despite the pleading, importuning and outright begging of a majority of her constituents. By the time the fall election had begun in earnest, she opened the race more than 30 points behind.
So it now must be with the Nelsons, Tester, Webb, Manchin and Casey. American Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity and Sixty Plus — the trio whose aggressive attacks led directly to the 2010 victories — must get on the air and inform voters of their senators’ refusal to repeal this law.
When President Obama told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that the public was “about evenly divided” on his healthcare plan, he was applying the same inability to count that characterizes his deficit-reduction programs. Rasmussen Reports shows a 55-40 margin for repeal, hardly a break-even scenario.
And with the courts finding that the law is unconstitutional, the public dissatisfaction with this law will grow.
The ObamaCare repeal vote was only the first of many planks the moderate Democrats will have to walk en route to losing their seats in 2012. They will have to vote against Republican budget cuts, against efforts to block the EPA from imposing a carbon tax, against restrictions on the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet and cripple talk radio. All of these votes are piling up in the House, waiting to make their way to the Senate floor.
Obama told O’Reilly he “did not want to re-fight the battles” of 2009 and 2010. But that is precisely what the House Republicans are going to make him do. And the same votes that led to the defeat or resignation under threat of defeat of Chris Dodd, Arlen Specter, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold will now spell doom for a new generation of senators. All thanks to Obama’s and Reid’s doctrinaire and obstinate refusal to act to protect their senators.
The slogan of the Obama Democrats might as well be the same as that for the old leftists of the British Labour Party: “No compromise with the electorate!”
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Outrage, Fleeced and Catastrophe. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their latest book, 2010: Take Back America — A Battle Plan, go to dickmorris.com.