In a bizarre twist of logic, on Monday’s Morning Joe program on MSNBC, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin argued that if Democrat Martha Coakley lost the race for the Massachusetts Senate, it would improve chances of health care reform passing: “I actually think they may get health care more easily than if they win.”
While Halperin acknowledged that losing the Senate seat that once belonged to the late Ted Kennedy would be a “disaster” for Democrats, he explained the supposed upside: “...if she wins, if they hold the seat, they’re still going to have to come up with a deal and then they’re going to have to have two votes, the House and Senate. They’re going to have to go through, you know, the torture of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson deciding if they can deal with the compromised bill.” Halperin seemed convinced a Coakley loss could avoid all of that torturous democracy.
Later in the 12:00PM ET hour of live coverage on Monday, anchor Monica Novotny referred back to Halperin’s Morning Joe comments and asked guests Richard Wolffe and Larry Sabato about such an analysis of the situation: “In a discussion about this race earlier this morning on our air, the point was made that perhaps it’s better for the Democrats if they lose this seat....What do you think?”
Wolffe, a left-wing political analyst for NBC News, wasn’t convinced: “Well, that’s one way to look at it. But I can tell you at the White House, where I am now, they would much prefer to see this as victory and they still project this as a victory for Coakley....life will be a lot easier with the 60 votes, believe me.”
Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor, was more open to the idea: “Look, the one bright spot for Democrats is that it is a wake-up call for November....the fact that Democrats no longer have 60, yes...it makes it much tougher for Democrats to pass legislation, but it also may...make it easier for Democrats to get through the kind of legislation that will produce bipartisan support, maybe increasing the chances that Democrats can cut Republican gains in November.”
Halperin’s full comments:
I think this will be a disaster for the Democrats, substantively and symbolically, if they lose this seat. But I actually think they may get health care more easily than if they win.
Because the only way to do this, I think, is to get the House to swallow hard and pass this, promising them that they’ll try to fix things in other legislation. If this didn’t happen, if she wins, if they hold the seat, they’re still going to have to come up with a deal and then they’re going to have to have two votes, the House and Senate. They’re going to have to go through, you know, the torture of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson deciding if they can deal with the compromised bill.
In the House bill, they may lose both conservative – they would lose conservative Democrats and liberal Democrats. This way, they go to the House and they say ‘This is it, guys, we have two choices, a binary thing. You can pass the Senate bill, we can get it done quick, move on to jobs, jobs, jobs, or you can let it fail, and we will won’t get healthcare and it’ll be a disaster, we will have wasted a year. So do it.’ And I think they will.