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Talking Tough

Paging Lord Acton.

8:47 AM, Jan 19, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Happy Massachusetts special election day. As Bay State voters head to the polls, political scientist Charles Franklin concludes: "Republican Scott Brown holds a lead in all 18 alternative models of the Massachusetts Senate race polls, now including all polls released through 6:00 p.m. Monday. Our standard trend estimate puts the race at a 6.2 point Brown lead over Democrat Martha Coakley."

Talking Tough

A partisan snow bank shows its colors under a Massachusetts mailbox.

Of course, a Brown victory is by no means inevitable. The independents who have swung massively behind Brown may not show up to vote--this seems unlikely--and the Democratic machine may turn out union members and pursue a Sixth Sense / Ed Schultz / "I see dead people" electoral strategy once the tallying begins.

Because the election is up in the air with Brown a slight favorite, national Democrats have already begun their spin efforts. They have decided to respond to Brown's extraordinary campaign by ... well, by pretending the election doesn't matter at all. As previously noted, Nancy Pelosi has said health care reform is still on if Brown wins, despite everything. The liberal blogs are atwitter (pardon the pun!) with various schemes by which Congress can pass a health bill that the public opposes. White House officials tell Politico, "“This is not a moment that causes the president or anybody who works for him to express any doubt. It more reinforces the conviction to fight hard.”

Needless to say, this is not the response you'd expect from a voracious pragmatist! It is, instead, reminiscent of the liberal caricature of the Bush presidency--a combination of ideological certainty and combative swagger that gets old after a while.

For what it's worth, I don't really believe it--plenty of Democratic politicians are smart enough to realize that passing a flawed bill even if Brown wins is tantamount to political suicide. The tough talk is just that -- talk -- as well as a useful reminder of Lord Acton's critique of power and its consequences.

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