[emphasis added] Now that’s not to deny that they were, in fact, close. In fact we’re still close and the door is still very open, logistically, to moving forward with essentially the deal that folks were working toward pre-Coakley. But I think the speed with which Coakley’s loss was seized upon as a reason not to walk through that door underscores how fundamentally uncomfortable with the framework so many people were. Say Coakley had turned back the tide and beaten Brown 51-49. Couldn’t some members have looked at that and said that Coakley’s very weak showing in the true-blue Bay State showed the unpopularity and infeasibility of Provision X and thrown a wrench in the works? It feels to me that a lot of members were looking for an excuse not to do it, and now they’ve seized upon one. But the underlying impulse to seek excuses and shift blame was long there.
This. Which is why I thought Coakley being a mortally wounded candidate at the finish line made the victory or loss not exactly irrelevant, but in the case of HCR, almost a wash. There were already far too many politicians—particularly in the House—who were ready to jump ship on the legislation. They would have pointed to a Coakley one-point WIN and learned the exact same fear-driven and incorrect lesson—the public doesn't want health care reform, the left is overreaching, and it's time to move to the right.
Had she won, Congress would only be hearing from the teabaggers and firebaggers that want to kill the package. The media would still be pronouncing the same Democrats are doomed, public rejection meme. The weak members would still be running to the hills. Those still centrally involved in the process would continue to weaken and erode the reforms and still end up with an unlikely-to-pass package out of a long, drawn-out and politically damaging conference process.
I look at the landscape now and absolutely believe that Coakley's loss might be the only thing that saves the reform and the Democrats from themselves.