Roger’s Rules

Scott Brown Gives David Gergen a Lesson in Government

Our two-year-old daughter has just embarked on the difficult exercise of saying “Massachusetts.” She doesn’t get it quite right, and as far as I know she can’t spell it yet, but then neither can the Martha Coakley campaign, whose latest video ad attacking Scott Brown bore the credit line “Paid for by Massachusettes Democratic Party and Authorized by Martha Coakley for Senate. Approved by Martha Coakley.”

Big deal, right? It’s just a typo. But just imagine, as the folks at Powerline ask, if Sarah Palin had approved an ad that misspelled Alaska. Dan Quayle on steroids, what?

Massachusetts is the state to watch. Can Republican candidate Scott Brown pull it off? Today, less than a week away, it is impossible to say. But were I Martha Coakley, the fact that it is impossible to say would have me very, very worried. Democratic voters in Massachusetts outnumber Republicans 3 to 1. In the normal course of events, Coakley would be solidly, even untouchably ahead. But she isn’t. The polls are all over the place. And Brown has momentum. Into the final stretch, he is raising money hand over fist, and the public performances I’ve seen are very impressive. The guy gets it. On issues from taxes to terrorism to health care reform, he dissents sharply and articulately from the big-government non-solutions proliferating from Washington and state capitals across the country.

He also understands something many of our career politicians have forgotten or perhaps never knew. That in a democracy, public servants serve the public, not themselves and their coterie of special interests. It seems simple, right? You learned it in civics 101, except of course they no longer teach civics 101. That had to go to make room for oppression studies 101 through 896.

Evidence of that lacuna regarding the proper workings of representative democracy is everywhere to be seen. Consider, for example, the debate on Monday between Brown, Coakley, and a third-party candidate. The exchange was moderated by David Gergen — the “insufferable David Gergen” as Powerline correctly observed. When the discussion turned to health care reform, Gergen went on the attack against Brown. The last time Washington set out to socialize health care (I paraphrase) under the Clintons, its defeat meant that it would be fifteen years before the next  serious effort to bring about a government takeover of health care (again, I paraphrase).

Let me pause to observe that fifteen years is a nice respite. We should, perhaps, be grateful to Hillary Clinton for so mucking up the debate that the whole subject of “health care reform” was rendered toxic until the elevation of Barack Obama. If there is something wrong with the way health care is delivered in this country, it is too much, not too little, government involvement. Do you really want to bring down the cost of health insurance? Tear down the artificial barriers that prevent the 1300 insurance companies from competing nationwide for your premiums. Cast a steely eye on the absurd mandates some states force upon insurance companies, requiring them to cover all sorts of new-age garbage. Finally, cap malpractice settlements and force some serious tort reform. Those three policies, vigorously pursued, would do an immense amount to foster real reform without turning over the health care system to a government bureaucrat near you.

That’s in response to the faulty premise of David Gergen’s question. But the denouement gave Scott Brown an opportunity to educate and humiliate Gergen. He did both in a masterly fashion.

Are you, Gergen asked, willing to derail reform for fifteen more years (logic alert! but let it pass) — are you willing to say “I’m going to sit in Ted Kennedy’s seat and I’m going to be the person who is going to block [health reform] for another fifteen years?”

It was supposed to be a “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy moment“, but Brown returned the serve and won the game: “With all due respect,” he said, “it’s not the Kennedy seat, it’s not the Democrat’s seat, it’s the people’s seat, and they have a chance to send somebody down who is going to be an independent voter and an independent thinker.”

Good stuff, what? And it has the additional advantage of being true. The Massachusetts Senatorial election is less than a week away. If Scott Brown keeps this up, Martha Coakley will have a hard time finding reporters to shove around.

Here’s the a clip (via Powerline):