Mass. Rebellion

January 20, 2010 2:05:05 PM PST
Those slurping sounds you hear is President Obama and his minions licking their wounds.

The political parties have their own spins about last night's stunning Republican victory in Massachusetts. An otherwise obscure state legislator named Scott Brown will now assume the U.S. Senate seat held for nearly 50 years by Ted Kennedy, and, before him, by his brother, JFK.

The last time that seat was won by a Republican was back in 1946, and the last time a Republican won a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts was 1972.

A body blow to the Democrats in general, and to Pres. Obama in particular.

It would be too simplistic to say that the right-wing commentators can claim credit for the stunning upset last night; although their non-stop verbal assault on Barack Obama for the past year certainly contributed.

It would also be too simplistic to say the Democrats should throw out their political strategy if they don't want further defeats in the fall; although it's certainly time to reassess some of the, perhaps, ill-conceived priorities that have consumed the White House in this Administration's first year.

Is health care reform dead? Hard to imagine that without the 60 votes of their "super majority," Democratic Senators would have enough support to get the reform package through. And the loss? No question, the 30 million or so Americans who aren't insured now for health coverage will remain uninsured. And the people who can't get insurance because of pre-existing conditions will also remain uninsured.

But real reform isn't in this current health care reform package - not without a government option, and not without full choice by patients, especially women.

Will the President reconsider the priority of pushing health care reform? Several prominent politicians, including New York's U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, are implying that tonight - saying the President, and his party, have to push new jobs as the first, second and third items on the political agenda.

We'll see.

Tonight at 11, the fallout and ramifications and the future - after the Republican victory in Massachusetts.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest from Haiti, where, amazingly, rescues continue. Last night before we went on the air, the New York rescue task force - 40 members from the FDNY and 40 from the NYPD - rescued two young kids, ages 8 and 10. A week after the quake!

FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano this morning told me that he expects his unit to pull off similar rescues for another couple of days.

And, at a breakfast kickoff for our annual Operation 7 Save A Life fire safety campaign, the Commish gave us the backstory of last night's rescue. The task force had apparently called it a night, and headed to their makeshift base camp at the Port au Prince airport. Then the call came in: A young brother and sister had been spotted in the rubble, and needed rescuing. So, in the dark, the unit suited up and went out again.

Wow.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports.

I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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