Voters have Washington's undivided attention after the stunning Republican win Tuesday in Massachusetts. The powerful message of Scott Brown's Senate victory is that voters are frustrated, worried and won't be ignored. But what will make them satisfied?
President Barack Obama tapped a weariness with Republicans to get elected. Now that Democrats control the White House and Congress, they bear the political burden of joblessness, a bad economy, deficits, terrorism and a government many see as hapless in the face of withering middle-class dreams.
The Massachusetts thunderclap ramped up pressure on Democrats to make things better, but deprived them of their filibuster-proof Senate majority. It will take at least one Republican vote to move anything through the Senate. So Obama must recalibrate - not just on health care but on jobs, the economy, climate change and bank regulation. And he's getting dizzyingly contradictory advice: Tack left. Tack right. Go slow. Go fast.
Still, all politics are local. Brown ran a smart, energetic race in Massachusetts; Democrat Martha Coakley didn't. That should resonate here. Voters deserve strong candidates for the Senate seat held by appointed Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. But Democrats have arrogantly cleared the field of primary challengers, and the Republican field isn't offering bountiful options. One thing that should be obvious after the Massachusetts election is that voters are in no mood to be trifled with. hN