The GOP and the paragons of the right hve been trumpeting the special election victory of Scott Brown in the Democratic state of Massachusetts as a reason why we should give up on the Obama agenda, starting with health care reform.
However, it means almost the opposite of this.
A lot of the voters who voted for Obama last year and stayed home this year (or in some cases, even voted for Brown) did so because really not much is that different from if John McCain had won last year's election. Obama has hired far too many Wall Street bankers and Federal Reserve retreads to set the course for the nation's financial policy. The Bush wars are continuing. Little has been done on the environment. And health care reform has been continually dragged out and watered down to the point where it is almost unrecognizable. And even this looks like it may be taken off the table and replaced by a bill that everyone can agree on which may clip around the edges of the problem, say by getting rid of the pre-existing condition exclusion but probably leave loopholes that in the end will make it just 'feel-good window dressing.'
In fact, Brown himself made the best case for why the public still wants meaningful health care reform. He pointed out that the voters in Massachusetts already have universal coverage, so they would only be essentially paying extra taxes to extend to the rest of the United States a benefit they already enjoy. He specifically did not call for the repeal of the Massachusetts law, which despite its warts seems likely to remain in place. Well, as Tip O'Neill said, "all politics is local" and Brown was able to take avantage of a progressive local law and turn it to his advantage. He also was very careful not to criticize the President directly, as Obama remains popular in Massachusetts.
The answer is to get health care reform finished. According to some reports, house and senate leaders were 'hours away' from an agreement when Brown's election caused some to get cold feet. They should go ahead and finish the agreement and push it through while Democrats still have sixty Senate votes.
The idea that moving to the center will save Democrats is foolishness. To win, Democrts have to give voters a reason to vote for them, and right now, they haven't yet. Throwing in the towel on health care would make the problem worse, not better.