January 21, 2010

Joan Walsh does a good job on Hardball hitting back at the meme that the problem with the health care bill was that Obama bowed down to liberals when just the opposite is true. Of course Matthews and the corporate media are going to keep repeating the lie that Obama needs to move to the middle.

MATTHEWS:Chris and Joan, it seems to me there`s been a comparison between what we had yesterday in Massachusetts, and the one held in Pennsylvania, when Harris Wofford knocked off Richard Thornburgh, in that incredible race in `91. Is this has much of a leader, an indicator, of just where we`re headed -- Joan -- for this November?

WALSH: You know, I`m not sure it is but I do want to say I`ve spent the last week, Chris, saying, Martha Coakley ran a bad campaign, but we really do have to look at what this means for Democrats. And I think that`s the first and foremost thing that it means is that President Obama has simply not led.

He let the Republicans run this health care agenda. People want to blame Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? He turned it over to the Senate`s Finance Committee, he gave Republicans their marching orders, he gave them rope to hang him and that`s what they did. That`s why we`re still talking about this a year after his inauguration.

MATTHEWS: So he`s been ineffective?


MATTHEWS: He`s been an effective progressive?

WALSH: Oh, please, don`t set me off today, Chris. I know you`re feisty. I`m really feisty. That`s the one thing I will be here to say.

This is garbage that he bowed to his left. This is a corporate bill with corporate giveaways that the left is pissed about. That`s the problem with it. And I`ll finish Howard Dean`s sentence. One more thing. Howard Dean was trying to say -- I don`t agree with him on everything. Martha Coakley lost the progressives because nobody cares that she`s for the public option. That is dead and gone because the President didn`t fight for it.

So the idea that he went too far to this left is simply, factually wrong.

MATTHEWS: No, I`m just asking whether Martha Coakley was the Progressive candidate out there and what she stood for. It sounds like she was addressing the issue the way you might do, had you been a candidate and I just wonder why the defeat of her didn`t signal a lack of favor for the position, is all I`m asking. I`m trying to learn here.

WALSH: I disagree. If you want to keep going with me, I will answer that. First of all, I would have been in a truck. I would not have gone on vacation; I would have worked my but off. I find it problematic that she didn`t. But I also think that she was saddled with the fact that this bill, as written, is a done deal. The other thing that is important in Massachusetts, Chris is that the president did cut a deal with Ben Nelson, which penalized progressive states like Massachusetts.. I heard this from my progressive friends. We have great health care here - it`s got problems. But we`ve made the extra effort and paid the extra money to do something progressive. And then you`re going to sell out to Ben Nelson and Nebraska, one of the least progressive states in the nation? So there`s a progressive narrative here.

Chris, you might hear a different message than that from some of the politicians in Massachusetts that I`ve been talking to in the last 24 hours. But I`m not going to give their message; let them give it.

Chris Cillizza, what`s the difference between what happened yesterday and what`s going to happen in November? Is this an indicator of big trouble for the Democrats if they run candidates like Coakley, if they talk like Coakley, if conditions are like they are now?

CILLIZA: I don`t know if we knew what Wofford presaged what it wound up doing until we look back. It`s kind of like 1993, Ron Lewis in Kentucky wins a special election in a Democratic-held seat, we look back after `94 and say, obviously Ron Lewis was a harbinger of things to come. The one thing that I think is very worrisome if you`re a Democrat, about November, it`s not certain that this is going to happen but independents.-- independents in Virginia moved away from the Democratic candidate. Independents in New Jersey - I`m talking about the governors races in 2009 - moved away from the Democratic candidate.

We don`t have exit polling here in Massachusetts, but I talked to lots of strategists, lots of people who were polling privately for the two candidates and the two parties. Brown won overwhelmingly among independents. That is a problem that the White House has to address. They`ve gotten by by saying, look, the president is still popular with independents. Maybe, but his policies are not that

And I think Joan is right. If it continues, I don`t think we can say, yes, today, this means that Democrats are going to lose the House or lose nine or ten seats in the Senate. We`re not there yet. But it`s not a good sign if you`re a Democratic strategist or an elected member of congress.

MATTHEWS: Joan, would you run Martha Coakley again in two years against Scott Brown?

WALSH: Not unless she really changed her whole approach to politics. I really think she needed to be much more people-centric, she really need to hear -- here`s the thing, Chris, she - Obama - I was listening to David Axelrod and it was really annoying -

MATTHEWS: I`m out of time, Joan. I`m sorry. We`ll have you back again, and again, and again.

Joan Walsh, thank you. Chris Cillizza.

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