Massachusetts Politics and Health Care or Mitt, Scott and Rachel

This Luckovich cartoon is a good picture of Massachusetts politics after health care reform.  You could swap Romney for Scott Brown is it would almost be the same.

Joan Vennochi’s column in the Boston Globe last week provides a good summary of the dilemma faced by Romney and Brown.

WHEN YOU dance to the right with the one who brung you, you can end up with two left feet.

Two Massachusetts Republicans — US Senator Scott Brown and former Governor Mitt Romney — are in that awkward state.

Brown won election as an independent who happened to belong to the Republican Party. He’s quickly learning that in Washington, the “R’’ next to your name means your soul belongs to the GOP.

Brown paused for an instant before promising to vote against the Democrats’ historic health care package. That slight hesitation was enough to enrage conservatives who are already suspicious about his core beliefs.

No wonder he has to raise money by raising the specter of Rachel Maddow! (more on that later)

Brown’s campaign rallying cry — that he would be the 41st vote against health care reform — never made much sense. As a Massachusetts lawmaker, Brown voted for the health care reform package that was spearheaded by Romney and became the model for the federal law that President Obama just signed.

Brown never really explained how he could rail against a measure he once supported. Then, again, neither did Romney. He now sounds slightly unhinged as he attacks Obamacare, which is, after all, based on Romneycare. Right after the House vote, Romney condemned Obama as having “betrayed his oath to the nation.’’ Yesterday, his political action committee announced a new program, dubbed “Prescription for Repeal’’ to support conservative candidates who will repeal “the worst aspects of Obamacare.’’

The Republican problem is they wanted President Obama to fail so badly (and were conviced he would never pass any type of health care reform) they dug themselves into a corner. 

Brown and especially Romney should have known better. But they seized the path to the right as the best route to political victory. In the end, it could be the road to political defeat.

Brown will have to decide whether he belongs to the people of Massachusetts or to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and assorted Tea Party activists. He was attacked from the right when he joined the Democratic majority and backed a Senate jobs bill, and the attacks will continue.

To win reelection, he must be the independent he promised to be. Yet, conservatives will become incensed each time he strays from the party line, and even when he doesn’t. Some blame Brown for the passage of health care reform on the grounds that his election forced Democrats to go for it even without 60 Senate votes. That’s unfair, but that’s raw, partisan politics.

As for Romney, when he ran for president in 2008, he twisted and turned into a flip-flopper to a degree that severely undercut his credibility on the national stage. Still, based on past history, he was well-positioned to become his party’s nominee in 2012. The Republican nomination generally goes to a loser from the previous election cycle. Despite myriad weaknesses, that’s what happened with John McCain.

Now, to play in the Republican primary world, Romney has to do the mother of all flip-flops on health care reform. It’s hard to imagine how he does it, but if he succeeds, where does that leave him in a general election? Forget about two left feet. With his clumsy dance, he will have waltzed himself off the cliff.

If memory serves me, we just finished electing Scott Brown to 3 years in the Senate, but he is already trying to raise funds from his friends on the right by raising the specter of that scary Rachel Maddow running against him.  And Rachel is trying to use this to raise her profile and ratings.  It was good theater for a while.  And even though a number of commentors in the Boston Globe seem disposed to a Maddow run (according to a Tweet I glimpsed on Boston.com), I think is was just theater for her.  Brown, however is in a different position.  Even Newsweek is weighing in.  Liz White posted last week.

The fake 2012 Massachusetts senatorial race between newly elected Sen. Scott Brown and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is really heating up—er, sort of.

Earlier this week Brown sent a fundraising letter to supporters all over the country claiming the “political machine” in Massachusetts was vetting “liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow” to oppose him in the state’s election in 2012. Maddow quickly fired back, announcing that she had no plan to run for office while denouncing Brown for making up the story just to raise money. On Friday, Maddow approved a full-page ad in The Boston Globe to make her plans known to Brown’s constituents.

It really says something that two years in advance and a few months after what GOP supporters called his “Massachusetts Miracle” election, Brown is already worried about competition, even if it is just to bring in more money. As the first Republican to be elected for Senate in Massachusetts in 40 years and a with no vote on the health-care-reform bill—not to mention his more moderate tendencies could turn off the far right—he could face a tough reelection campaign. The rumor of Maddow’s run might be false, but it’s clear Brown’s fear of the next election isn’t.

Hey Scott, why don’t you take Rachel up on her offer to come on her show?  I don’t think she will ask you any thing too hard – just why you were for health care reform before you were against it.  And what exactly is the difference between the Massachusetts bill and the National one?  Easy stuff like that.